How to Handle an Incident Between My 6 Year Old Son and the Neighbor Boy

Updated on May 08, 2010
L.H. asks from Saint Michael, MN
15 answers

My son is pretty close to the neighbor boy who is also six. They play about every other day for about 1-2 hours at a time. I take this relationship to be good for my son because he has a friend that is the same age that he can see on a regular basis and it is outside of school. They like to wrestle and do boy things and I think their rough housing has gotten out of control by what happened yesterday. My son and Carter (neighbor boy) were on the deck looking out at something. There is a bench installed on the deck so they were standing on the bench so the railing was at their waist. I was inside and watched Carter intentionally push my son and he fell off the deck and fell about 10 feet to the ground. Obviously my son was screaming and he had a bloody nose and a split lip from the fall and Carter ran home scared. I have had no words with Carter, my husband talked to his parents and they told Carter he was grounded from my son for a couple of days. I am still mad about this but cant figure out if this was just normal boy behavior where carter didnt think before he pushed or if this boy has some issues and I need to take a closer watch on their play.

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answers from New York on

I can see where you would be upset however the boys are at an age where things pop into their heads as a good idea and they just run with it. They aren't to the point of being able to think things through nor do they have good impulse control at this stage in development. I'd say to let it go for now.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with Mikelle F.

I also second what you said at the end of your post. Go with your instincts and keep a closer watch on the boys. I too would be upset but who wouldn't be is their child fell from a deck?! It could have been a lot worse. How scary for your son!

Hopefully your son feels better and is recovering well!

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answers from Sioux Falls on

You were right to talk to Carter's parents. If that were my son who did it, he would have alot more consequences that that! But, I would in the futer watch them more carefully and if his misbehavior persists, I would put a restriction on their playing together until Carter demonstrates he is a safe friend. Chances are, he didn't think before he did it and is really sorry now. But, your son really could have gotten hurt bad.

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answers from Killeen on

It sounds like just what you said, rough housing getting out of control. It doesn't seem the Carter meant to hurt your son. He was probably ready to move on from looking at something. I really think it was 100 percent an accident and they may have rough housed on the porch before and didn't really take into account the fact the were standing on the bench and your son would fall off.

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answers from Tampa on

I agree that they need to be watched more closely but at the same time I think it was just kids being kids.

When my brother was 6yo his best buddy spent the night and they decided that the "fun" thing to do was jump from the toilet to the tub like "army men" that didn't turn out to well. The friend slipped and cut his forehead on the faucet. Thankfully, our Dad is a Pedi and got to practice his stitching skills LOL. My parents were so upset and kept apologizing for what happened and surprisingly the other kid's parents were doing the same. We learned that those two together had to be watched closely because they "didn't think" beyond the moment for along time.

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answers from Minneapolis on

If Carter's parents grounded him, then you know they're taking care of the situation. Like the other posters, I agree that Carter probably did not truly understand the consequences of his actions when he did it. Now he does.

It's very important that kids have neighbor friends with whom they can play outside consistently. So there is a bigger risk of burning any bridges and cutting off the 2 friends from one another. As they get older, they should be allowed to play outside freely (the alternative- 2 friendless boys who stay inside playing video games all day long).

In the future, don't be afraid to "parent" your son's friend when they're at your house. This probably doesn't apply to you, but I've never been able to understand why grownups are afraid to address misbehavior immediately and directly when they see it in children. (Or compliment good behavior, either!) That's what grownups are for! Kids need to know that we're ALL watching.

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answers from Portland on

Play can get too rough really quickly. I've seen this even with my very gentle husband playing with a nephew or his grandson. Sometimes only a bruise, a cut, a bloody nose, or a broken bone makes the impression that warnings can not.

Now that a real, observable life experience has happened, you're in a good position to have a little heart-to-heart with Carter, or even better, with both boys together next time Carter comes over. Tell them what you observed, and how angry you felt about the push, and how frightened you were when your son fell. Keep it simple and straightforward, considering the boy is only 6. In fairness, make an observation or two about other "out-of-control" behavior, including something your son has done.

Then make space for them to respond. "What do you guys think, now that this has happened? What do you think you boys should do when you play? Any rules to keep in mind?"

Give them plenty of time to think it through and formulate a reply. You may well be surprised at his thoughtful observations and creative solutions.

This is the general approach used in the wonderful book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk. It teaches parents how children can propose their own solutions to all sorts of classic child-rearing problems.

You can read part of it here:



answers from Minneapolis on

I think your son will know. Does he still want to play with Carter? When you see Carter, be friendly and nonjudgmental with him. You can ask him what he learned from the experience, and his answer will help you to know what to do next. Even if it was "normal boy behavior" he can be helped to grow and learn. The older he gets the less this behavior will be appreciated.



answers from Omaha on

Hard to say. Do you really watch them at all? If so have you seen any aggressive or overtly unwarranted from Carter? Then maybe you should be concerned.

If you dont watch them then I would. See what you observe. I'm guessing it's just they have gotten into this pattern of playing rough and he took it too far.

My son and husband play rough. Sometimes my son does impulsive things that are stupid. Like he ripped my husbands hat off his head while driving yesterday. Not smart eh. He didn't think about it. He was just stealing dad's hat off his head. It was a game. Except it could have been a deadly one. My son didn't think about it... He wasn't trying to crash our car or even think about how that could happen. He was just playing with dad! In a very stupid time...

So I'm sure it was just they have gotten into this pattern. I would tell them that the rough housing is over. Give them activities to do.. get on their butts if they start. Send Carter home if they start even if he didn't start it. They will both learn.



answers from Phoenix on

This does seem a little extreme and dangerous. My opinion is that a boy that age should know better. My son is 6 and I can't ever see him doing anything like that. I know that when we were at a family function my son was playing with his cousins who are 6 and 5 and I found out later that they were jumping on my son's head and playing way too rough... I was shocked... There are some kids who have no discipline, I suppose and need to be watched carefully or else they aren't allowed to play together. I wouldn't allow them to play together without your supervision and I wouldn't allow them to wrestle or horseplay...running and playing together doesn't have to be dangerous. Good luck to you.


answers from Savannah on

Wow how scary to watch that!! I would have had a stroke!!

I have 4 boys, and will have a 5th in June... and while on the one hand, my first instinct was to say "Yes... that sounds like typical boisterous, boy behavior"... I also had to stop myself, because at some point you have to draw the line between being a "rough little boy" and being sincerely dangerous, whether it was intentional or not.

I would sit down with Carter when he does come back (with his parents maybe?) and tell him gently how much it scared you, and how much you love your son and that you want him to be safe and not get hurt.... and that you are so glad they can play together again, but he has to play nicely and carefully, and not push *anyone* off of *anything* again.

In our house I have a large white board on the wall with "House Rules" written in permanent marker on it. There are a list of easy-to-read rules for my boys and their friends... maybe you could put something like that up to remind them both how to play carefully but still have fun?

Its also a good reference and detours you from having to be "the evil mom that sent my friends home"... you can just go to the rule board and say, "Okay guys, if you break a house rule you can't come into the house. Remember that." and then if anything happens again, you have a visual aid to explain why you're sending them home.

Remember, the male species is extremely visual! Having face-to-face talks, and using things like the rule board have *drastically* helped me in maintaining a good household!



answers from Columbus on

I haven't read all the responses yet. It sounds like, since Carter ran home scared, that he just wasn't aware of what could happen. It seemed like a somewhat fun thing at the time & his brain just isn't equipped to think that far in advance of his actions. It would certainly still be something that I watched more closely-at least for awhile.



answers from Omaha on

At 6 years of age I doubt that the child knew the consequences of his actions however I would keep an eye on their play activities and redirect if necessary. I remember when I was about that age and did something in appropriate and I remember being talked too and punished. I never did it again and I have no idea why I did it in the first place. Don't jump to conclusions that this child has behavioral issue, it could be a once in a lifetime issue. Keep an eye on their play but don't hoover too much.



answers from Sacramento on

Do you know if Carter has any medical conditions related to impulsive behavior? Our son has ADHD and when he's not on medication (or it's too low), he will unintentionally hurt his friends. He might think, I wonder what would happen if I pushed my friend but then just do it. Doesn't think it through to the consequence. He also tends to think of things in a superhero world as kids often do and doesn't realize quite what will happen. Thankfully, his friends are aware of his condition and the parents of his friends so far have been very understanding.

It also could just be normal. Six years old is still a young child. My husband apparently threw a cat or dog off of a short staircase as a kid, injuring the pet. He's grown up to be a normal guy, but just made a bad, impulsive decision as a kid.

Given the history now with this child, though, I do think you should keep an eye on their play for your child's sake. Hope your son is feeling better soon!



answers from Boston on

Keep an eye on them while playing. The boy probably didn't think it would turn out like it did. In his mind he was just rough housing, but to be sure I would watch a little closer. 10 feet is a long way down, I hope your son heals quickly!!

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