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11 year old neighbour

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
We are new to the neighbourhood. The house next door has been a kid magnet for some time (they have 6 kids) so now our front lawn is a typical hang out place (we are not as strict as the neighbour's dad )

This 11 year old boy (J.) has been coming to our yard. He is usually quiet, and when I observe through the window, it seems like they are having a good time.

Turns out he says "shut up" quiet a lot, and my kids don't like it. There might be other things too--as they say that he is "mean" but I can't figure out what is happening. I know he has hit them, but it seems after they hit him. It is not that they hit a lot, but sometimes there would be an argument, and my 5 year old would get mad if J. has taken something of his, and his sister would jump up in her brother's defense and try to punch him, and then J. would punch her back. It is never violent or too aggressive--just little altercations that die out right away.

Yesterday my kids ran screaming that J. was mean, and as I walked out, he was walking away. I ran after him and asked him to just talk to me and tell me what happened.

He told me about the incident (above), and I talked to him about being the oldest--as my kids are 8 and 5. I told him that I tell my kids not to hit, and that they all need to step back and say "no hitting" if it happens, and that because he is the oldest there, he needs to be even more mindful of that.
It is hard for him, I'm sure, to hang out with younger kids at times--I validated that to him.

J. started crying. Big tears rolling down his cheeks. He said his older sister is 14, and she is always mean to him. (I didn't probe further, but maybe I should have, to just see what kind of situation he is in.) I do get a feeling he is not from a very involved family, as he often spends hours and hours at our yard.

At the end of our conversation I told him he could come back when he felt better, to make peace with the kids. I thought about giving him a hug, but wasn't sure how an 11 yo would react, so I just patted him on his back. He hasn't come since, but he is not here every day, so not sure whether he is avoiding us or just busy.

I have no experience with 11 year old boys! I'd like to support him, and also make sure he is respectful with my kids--they really don't like this "shut up" thing. And my 8 yo has told him many times to stop it, and he just won't.

I need advice on how to draw clear boundaries, and also to support him. I realise now that I should've hinted at boundaries right as we were talking, but I was not prepared for the conversation and was just taken aback by his crying.

P.S. There are usually other kids around, and all kinds of games going on. It is rare that he is alone with my kids. My kids tell me that the neighbours think he is "mean" too. From what I've witnessed, he's been nice with my 2 year old (playing ball with her) and is usually kind of withdrawn (looks down a lot). So I don't know for sure whether he is mean, or younger kids pull at his strings, or what else could be going on.
post #2 of 10
It wouldn't make sense for him to hit the little kids, but it's not unreasonable for a kid his age to hit the 8yo back when she's hitting him. Is this something you're working on with her?
post #3 of 10
it's not unreasonable for a kid his age to hit the 8yo back when she's hitting him.
I agree. If the other kids hit him did you give him permission to let you know so you could deal with your kids or what should he do if they hit him again.
post #4 of 10
Yeah, I don't think it's his responsibility to police the hitting situation simply because he's older. An 8 year old that hits has just as much of a responsibility, I think. If your 8 yr old is working on this issue than I think you need to be keeping a closer watch on her. That's not the neighborhood kids' job.

As far as him saying 'shut up', if your kids don't like it then I would tell them to say to him, 'I don't like when you say that to me' and walk away. IMO getting into a screaming match about it is almost as unacceptable as hitting.

Honestly I think your talk with him was a little inappropriate especially in light of the fact that your child hit him first. If you think about it, if your child had just been struck by another kid, and then that kid's parent talked to your child about 'respecting' THEIR kid (the one that just hit yours) wouldn't you be a little peeved? It would be different if this was a bully situation, but it sounds like your daughter is not at all being bullied.
post #5 of 10
I don't think talking to him was too bad an idea - but instead of putting the responsibility on his shoulders it should have been placed on yours. Not that you are responsible for your dd's actions, not in that way, but to tell him something like, "I'm sorry that happened, I wish I had been outside to help deal with the situation. Next time dd does that, please come knock on the door and tell me - I'll help settle everyone down so that you can go back to playing."

It would be OK to tell him that hitting back doesn't solve the problem, and that you have talked to your dd about hitting, but thats probably as far as I would have gone.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the perspective! It is just he seems so much older and bigger. It helps to see that he is pretty much little himself.

For the record, my 8 year old does not have a hitting "issue", but would punch if someone is mean to her brother. We do talk about it, of course, and this happens very, very rarely. But if J. is taking away her brother's toys, and won't respond after being asked several times (she is VERY good at communicating, with no screaming, but she is being ignored by J.), I see nothing wrong with her punching him. It is not like it was a fist fight or anything like that, no one was close to being physically hurt. I reinforce the ideas of walking away from confrontation, but it is not always possible. If he was taking away her things, she would have walked away, but when it is about her little brother, she is more of a sister-bear.

But I agree that he is too little himself to be responsible for not hitting. I do tell my kids the same things, it is not that I singled him out. But I got a bit lost talking to him, as I wasn't sure what would be appropriate for an 11 year old. Thanks again.
post #7 of 10
11 can be an emotional age for boys and it seems like this kid is having to take it from all angles, he's got the kids too big for him to fight against and the littler kids he's not supposed to defend himself against. FWIW I have gone through all these ages and it doesn't seem your children are innocent in this situation. I would only talk to them altogether, not single him out, as far as the hitting goes...if your dd is going to dish it out she better be ready to take it. I'm not a pacifist and I don't freak if kids fight it out but I wouldn't get mad at another kid for hitting back when my kid hit them first. That's just how it goes so if she wants to fight older boys she going to need to learn to fight well.
post #8 of 10
I see nothing wrong with her punching him. It is not like it was a fist fight or anything like that, no one was close to being physically hurt. I reinforce the ideas of walking away from confrontation, but it is not always possible.
I disagree with you.

This is just an excuse for your dd to hit him. If she can walk away if he did something to her, she can walk away & get you when he won't give her brothers toys back.

What makes you think it doesn't hurt him physically when she hits him? What about emotionally hurting, having an 8yo hit you in front of the other kids but he isn't supposed to protect himself becuase he's older. It is setting him up to bullied by the rest of the neighborhood.

Why is it not possible for your dd to just walk away in these circumstances? It is the BEST time to walk away.

He needs to be mindful becuase he's older but it's okay for your dd to hit him because there's "nothing else she can do". How would you feel if a 5yo hit your dd & the mother said oh well sometimes there's nothing else that can be done in these situations.
post #9 of 10
If your yard is the hangout why not make some simple rules that apply to everyone and tell them all they have permission to come and get you if they need help with playing together peacefully.

Some of our neighbourhood rules:
No hitting.
If someone says please stop you stop - no questions asked.
No excluding anyone.
All toys are shared toys.
If you need help get an adult.

I'd curb the 8 year old's hitting now. It's not appropriate. She needs to know to get help before she gets to the point that she thinks violence is the only solution. It's a life skill and she is more than old enough to learn it now.

good luck
post #10 of 10
I know this is an older thread but DS has one rule that has followed him basically from 'birth' and that rule is 'keep your hands to yourself'.
That means, no hitting, no touching etc. This rule has work extremly well for the past 10 years.
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