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neighbor yelling at my child for crossing the street

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

We just moved to a new neighborhood this month. It's been wonderful for my DD, for the first time we live somewhere where there are other children her age that are allowed to play outside!


DD has a scooter that she has been enjoying on the side walks up and down the street. When she is alone, she enjoys riding it down the "hills" that the driveways make between the sidewalk and the street. She is almost 8 years old. She has had a few years experience with riding her scooter on sidewalks and crossing streets. Our street is not that busy and is long, flat, and straight, with lots of visibility.


Just to be clear, DD is not mowing down pedestrians with her riding. I don't think I've ever seen anyone but the mailman walking up and down the sidewalks.


There is an elderly woman that lives 2 houses down, across the street that has been yelling out of her window to DD to stay out of the street. Basically every time DD is outside riding she gets yelled at. She peeks out of her blinds, then opens a window and yells out. I've never seen this woman outside.


I was not aware of this until 2 days ago, when DD came running in the house, terrified, because the woman was coming over to talk to us. DD thought she was in a lot of trouble, but after questioning her on what had been going on I assured her she did nothing wrong and to calm down.


DH and I met the woman half way between our houses. We introduced ourselves and the woman immediately began chastising us and lecturing us about the dangers of children and streets, and did we know DD was across the street, did we know she could get hit by a car, we shouldn't let her cross the street, yadda, yadda, yadda. DH thanked her for her concern, assured her we were aware of the situation, and left it at that. I was a little miffed at him for not setting a clear boundary for her that this is our child, she is allowed to cross the street, please stop yelling at her and threatening her. DH did not want to tick her off since we are new to the neighborhood.


I am not OK with this. DH seems to feel like we we should not make waves.


I've asked DD to not use this woman's driveway, not to cross the street in front of her house, but told her it was OK to ride past her house. The yelling has continued.


All the other kids don't cross the street with their bikes and scooters at all because of this woman and her yelling.


How would you handle this if it was your child and your neighborhood?



post #2 of 20
I would telll her to stop in writing and keep a copy, and if the continues I would tell her to stop in writing again with a warning that if she continues at that point that she is harassing your daughter, and if she continues after that I'd call the police. Yelling isn't illegal but continuing after you've been told to stop is harassment.
post #3 of 20

We live in a very "quiet" development with sidewalks and very low traffic.  I don't let my kids go across the street back and forth.  Is your dd crossing at the corner or darting back and forth across the street?  If she is not crossing at the corner or is going back and forth multiple times in the "middle" of the street, I wouldn't find that safe or like it.


If I saw another child doing that, I would not say anything.  I would figure their parents knew and were okay with it.


For me, even minimal cars, high visibility and a few trees still makes it tricky when people are going in and out of their driveways.


I guess you know your situation best.


And it would hurt my feelings if someone yelled at my kid for most reasons. redface.gif

post #4 of 20
Originally Posted by Youngfrankenstein View Post

We live in a very "quiet" development with sidewalks and very low traffic.  I don't let my kids go across the street back and forth.  Is your dd crossing at the corner or darting back and forth across the street?  If she is not crossing at the corner or is going back and forth multiple times in the "middle" of the street, I wouldn't find that safe or like it.

yea is that what she's doing?!

post #5 of 20
This isn't a 4-year-old. It's an 8-year-old. I really think an 8-year-old can handle crossing streets in a quiet subdivision, and subdivisions where I live aren't set up where there are intersections really. There's usually a cul-de-sac going off on just one side here and there. My daughter crosses them at will and all the kids here do, maybe starting at 5 or so. I don't think it's dangerous at all.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

She is riding her scooter back and forth, up and down the driveway inclines. I would not call it darting. I have watched her and I do not find her to be unsafe. If there is a car in the street, even waaaay down the street, she stops. She is very cautious about cars.


Crossing at the corner is not the most practical, it's at least 10 houses down, both directions.


She is playing in a manner consistent with the way I grew up playing in my neighborhood.

post #7 of 20

I understand your mama-bear instinct, but IMO restraint is the better option, here.  


You do need to talk to her again and say more than you did before.   Simply "thanking her for her concern and telling her you're aware of the situation" could've still left her thinking that you guys agree it was a problem and that your daughter didn't have your permission to ride as she does.  If your neighbor sees the same behavior continue, she may think your daughter is disobeying and that you guys are too unobservant to realize it.  Your neighbor needs to hear that you know how/where she's riding; you've taught her to look for cars; and you believe she's safe.


But taking over a plate of cookies and smiling a lot will go much further toward toning down her worry-wart reactions to you, than if you go over there ready to jump down her throat for yelling at your baby.  After all, you don't know what is behind this old lady's behavior.  Maybe she has seen a kid get hit by a car.  Maybe it was her kid.  Maybe she was a crummy mother and her children never visit or call and she tries to make herself feel better by getting outraged over how careless all these young parents in the neighborhood are, and telling herself how much better she was.  Maybe she is simply alone in the world and wants attention - and to feel like people need her wisdom - and this is the only way she manages to satisfy that need.


She may well keep yelling at your daughter.  But if your daughter knows you guys support her, then she can learn to stand up to adversity and not let an unreasonable person intimidate her.  Evidently, the yelling itself did not "terrify" your daughter, only the fear that the old lady would tell you.  Now your daughter knows she will not get in trouble with you.  Over time, her riding will inspire other kids in the neighborhood to come out and ride with her, in spite of the old lady.  That's just how kids work.  You'll see!

post #8 of 20
Originally Posted by AbbieB View Post

She is riding her scooter back and forth, up and down the driveway inclines. I would not call it darting. I have watched her and I do not find her to be unsafe. If there is a car in the street, even waaaay down the street, she stops. She is very cautious about cars.


Crossing at the corner is not the most practical, it's at least 10 houses down, both directions.


She is playing in a manner consistent with the way I grew up playing in my neighborhood.

Well I guess you know your home set up better than I do.  It's just not something I'd let my dd do, even at 8.  I can only speak for the cars in my neighborhood.  I'm just giving the opinion that I wouldn't like to be backing out of my driveway and the child comes across the street at me.  Of course I'm sure your dd looks carefully but I just think it feels like a bad idea to me.


post #9 of 20
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post

I restraint is the better option, !

I wouldnt restrain myself. This woman is controlling all the kids' behavior with her yelling. This kid is 8 years old, she can look and see if anyone is crossing the street before she rides her bike out in it. Geeze, at that age, we used to rollerblade and play hockey in the street all the time. Its a neighborhood, not a highway.
post #10 of 20

I was visiting my sister this summer and she lives on a cul-de-sac. Her kids are in college now, but we were talking about the neighborhood and she was saying that there's one crazy lady who lives on the cul-de-sac, who really seems to not like kids. This is a very kid-centered newish neighborhood. It's the kind of neighborhood that's really built to attract families with lots of cul-de-sacs, neighborhood pool, parks, etc. It's not a 55+ no-kids-allowed neighborhood, yet this crazy lady who doesn't like kids bought a house there and now yells at the kids who want to play roller hockey in the cul-de-sac and calls the police on them! Even though their parents are right there with them! Anyhow, what they learned was to just stay away from her and her house. The police have been called numerous times (by the crazy lady) and they know that the kids aren't doing anything bad or wrong, but they have to come out. So, they play roller hockey down in front of my sister's house instead and my sister is fine with that. Probably still drives the crazy lady crazy, but there's nothing she can do about it.


I would just tell your dd to stay away from the crazy lady's house and if you're okay with what she's doing (I can't quite visualize it) to take it elsewhere on the street or maybe stay on your side of the street. If you see the crazy lady, tell her that you've asked your dd to not play near her driveway, but that you are okay with her crossing the street by herself as she's almost 8 and very cautious. If she tells you that it's not safe, tell her that you appreciate her concern, but that you have great trust and confidence in your daughter and have taught her safety rules and are pleased with how cautious and careful she is. I would try to make my position clear and firm, but in a super polite manner. You can bite your tongue and thank her for watching out for the kids in the neighborhood. Catch more flies with sugar than vinegar and all that. I do agree with your DH that I would try not to make an enemy of this woman, but I also agree with you that he didn't make it clear that you don't have a problem with your child's behavior. Your DH's response left that open -- maybe you are aware of it and going to tell her to stop or maybe you're aware of it and okay with it. It was an ambiguous message, so I imagine that the crazy lady will continue to be crazy w/o a clear message that you think it's okay. She'll probably still be crazy then, too, but at least you will have done your best.  If you really wanna get all "catching more flies with sugar" on her, you could make some cookies or brownies and take them over to her and thank her for her concern, and let her know that you've asked dd to not play near her house because it bothers her, but make it clear that it does not bother you and you're okay with her behavior elsewhere on the street. The cookies and brownies might be a bit over the top, but you might be able to pull it off. Personally, I'd just wait and dread having to confront her again.


Good luck!


ETA: Confession, I skimmed the responses the first time, but apparently I should have just given Jeannine at "yeah that" and I wouldn't have had to type so much! What she said!!

post #11 of 20

You mentioned that she was an older woman, maybe she has a medical problem, like Altzhiemer's or Dementia, maybe she's in the early stages of this? That might explain the repeated yelling, she may not conciously realize that she's doing it so much. As in, each time she notices your DD her mind may think, Oh no, I must warn that child, she shouldn't be on the busy street! Even though the street is clearly not busy, in her mind it may well be (as she could be mixing it up with a steet she lived on long ago, or simply another street)

So to you, and your DD, the repaeted yelling would be offensive, scary and annoying, but to her, it may not be repeated.


I'd drop by to visit her with your DD, and try to ignore the 'warnings.


Just my 2 cents : )


And BTW, your situation hardly seems dangerous, it sounds like your DD is having fun and your so lucky to live on a flat street! ( I'm in the land of steep, stomach dropping hills!)


post #12 of 20

I suggest you go over to her house, like a PP said, bring some cookies as a nice gesture, and tell her you'd appreciate it if she left disciplining your child to you. That you understand her concerns, but you have given her permission to do what she is doing and feel she is being safe and don't want her reprimanding your child anymore. Since she is an older woman, I assume some of this is generational - kind of nice on one hand that she is looking out the window, keeping watch over the neighborhood, but also really annoying when she is ruling the street by yelling at kids. In my opinion, it is nobody's business what she is doing if you have given permission, as long as she is not hurting someone else or obviously doing something harmful to herself (because I'm sure there are instances where kids are playing with matches or some insane thing like that and parents have given 'permission' ... but of course this falls no where near that kind of situation). Just let kids be kids for pete's sake.


That said, I'm a total chicken when it comes to this kind of stuff (we had a similar incident with a neighbor and I still haven't spoken up, although my kids don't play near her house anymore), so I understand it's easier said than done. Ugh, neighbors. 



post #13 of 20

Ug. I had a similar situation with an old man in a neighborhood I lived in around that age. For me it was crossing the road to play in the creek across the neighborhood. I started crawling through the drain pipes to get there instead of walking across where he'd see me. He was always trying to "catch" me. He made going out to play really miserable. My caregivers didn't want to make waves either. Wish they would have.


I'd talk to her. I'd try to be polite about it, but firm. She needs to know that though it's great that she's trying to look out for the children, it's the parents' job, and they get the final say on what their children may do.

post #14 of 20

Ok we have one of these.  He yells at our kids for not wearing their shoes outside.   However, once my girls got to know him, they found out he really was just worried and you can't turn that off sometimes.  Come on can we?  We've actually all become good friends.  If something is going wrong outside, like kids being too rough or doing something dangerous, he's the first to come out and break it up.  Though he can be a cranky old man the kids do like him and look up to him.  He's the kind of guy that would decorate your house for Christmas then plug it into his electric box so that the kids could have lights and you don't have to pay the bill... yes he's done this. 


What you have is an older lady who has nothing else to do.  In her mind it's her duty to watch out in the area.  Your kid could be giving her a heart attack every time she sees her do something that probably scares her.  No that doesn't mean she should stop being a kid but just maybe the older lady knows the neighborhood better than you and has seen the ebb and flow of traffic.  She may know the guy down the street drives too fast around a corner every afternoon or so and so's kid just got his license and is a terrible driver.  She just wants to help and that's just how she does it.  It's better to make friends than to break what could end up being a good thing.

post #15 of 20

I don't have one of the lonely old yellers, but I have one of the nosey nellys, that knows everyone's business, right down to when you are in the basement doing laundry, when you are not at work, when you are on the john.... Ugh, but easier to ignore than a yeller. This would be my game plan. First, I'd rediscuss with your DD that you are totally OK with her on the street with her scooter. That YOU know she watches for traffic, etc. Then I would say that the neighbor shouting is her problem, not your DDs, because what she does is ok. Give her some suggestions - say if she does not like it, then just walk by the yelling neighbor instead, or walk on the other side.... Then I'd bring over cookies and be friendly. You, your DH, and your DD. And then be polite but very firm. Ne super clear that you KNOW what your child is doing and APPROVE of what your child is doing. So your DD is there and hears the conversation you have with the other woman. Knows you will stand up for her, in a polite and respectful way. Then when you are home you can discuss again with your DD. Or after a few days, if the yelling persists. 

Let us know what you decide to do, and how it turns out. 

post #16 of 20

we have had a similar situation.


i just helped dd realise that some people are just too scared and they want to impose their ways. 


i helped dd 'ignore' her but understand where the woman was coming from. 


no i would not piss her off but neither would i make my child do at her bidding. 


help your child to understand that she is not in trouble with you for crossing.


i would imagine if the whole neighbourhood did it the woman would have to change her tune coz you can only yell so much. 

post #17 of 20
So if I'm imagining this right, your dd rides her scooter down a driveway, across the street and up someone else's driveway, sidewalk to sidewalk? If that's right, I can see why she's yelling. Most kids are taught to stop at the edge of the road and look before crossing.

However, that doesn't excuse the yelling, especially if, as you say, your dd won't do it if there are cars anywhere near. I agree with the PPs, you need to talk to the woman again.
post #18 of 20
No, it sounds like her DD is riding down the sidewalk, staying on the same side of the street, and crossing over the ends of the people's driveways where they intersect with the sidewalk. Yes, she also is crossing the street, but not going up and down others' driveways.

If it's 10 houses down to the intersection, it sounds like a big enough street that DD can avoid this lady's driveway, no? Would that solve most of the problem?
post #19 of 20
Ok, here's how I picture the street. The driveways go down at a slight angle and the part that is between the street and the road is a big enough angle to make it fun to ride down, across the street to the other side, and maybe even go up the corresponding slope on the other side of the street. We don't have driveways but our neighbor's walkway is kind of like that and the kids love to ride their bikes, scooters, and skateboards down it.
post #20 of 20

Your post just made me so happy that I live where I do.  There are people who get a little too close for comfort sometimes (everyones kids come to my house and hang out even when my kids aren't here- I'm a kid magnet for some reason- more for a later post) but everyone watches out for each other and respects each others rules.  


My daughter is four and runs across the street (we've taught her to look both ways) and back all the time.  So do all the other kids.  So does the neighbors two and a half year old.  No one yells unless one of them doesn't look first and a car is coming.


If I were you, I would tell her your daughter is way past the age of learning how to cross the street, she knows how to cross the street safely, and you allow her to.  And then get police involvement if the harassment continues.

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