Wanting advice on a situation with my neighbor... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 12-07-2012, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't know where else to post this, but I would appreciate your thoughts! I have recently started watching the two children next door (a 4 year old girl and a sweet infant boy) for 5 hours every Friday. I take my 2.5 year old daughter with me. The 4 year old (I will refer to her as E), is very bossy and mean to my sweet and incredibly sensitive DD. I try to let my DD stick up for herself, but she usually doesn't so I try to intervene without my crazy mama bear instinct coming out.
Last week, E was worse than ever. She refused to listen to me, threw tantrums, was a total brat to my DD and even smacked her on the head with a plastic golf club. My DD still has a bruise on her head from it. The mom said she would work with E all week on her behavior. This week though, she was just as bad, if not worse. The sad thing is, my DD is starting to copy her. For example, E is very rough with her brother and yells at him. My DD, who is a huge baby lover and has always been sweet and gentle with the babies she knows, started yelling at him too. Then when we got home today, she started kicking our dog and bossing him around. I asked her why and she said, "E does it, Mommy." I don't want my impressionable DD to be influenced by such a naughty kid. This child also pretended to shoot us, cut off our heads, and kept talking about dead babies...! I certainly don't want my DD picking up on that junk.
My DH thinks I should keep watching them because he wants our DD to learn to stick up for herself. I, and my mom and sister, think she should be surrounded by nice people, and learn how to stand up for herself by learning who she is and being around positive, loving people who build her up as much as is reasonable. Obviously if I want to quit watching them, my DH will support my decision, but I am just wondering what you all would do.
The mom brought home cupcakes for my family today and is talking about making a reward chart (which I know already will be a failure knowing this child), and is really trying to keep us happy. it seems fake I know, but she really is a genuine, nice person (so unlike E). So I hate to put her in a bind or cause tension as they live right next door to us.
I work so hard to make my home a peaceful, loving, positive place so I hate that we go to that chaos each Friday. Anyways, I just need some outside opinions. Thanks to any of you that read this long post and answer. I appreciate it!smile.gif
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#2 of 13 Old 12-07-2012, 02:21 PM
 
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I'd preserve my family's peace - maybe you can find a new activity (playgroup/story hour) that could conflict with babysitting on Friday?

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#3 of 13 Old 12-07-2012, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! Yea, I was thinking I would need to make it about our schedule rather than her daughter.smile.gif
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#4 of 13 Old 12-07-2012, 09:52 PM
 
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When a child is acting out a lot in a situation like this it is often because they don't feel connected to you. It is important to build a good bond even if you only see her once a week. Reading, doing art together and just listening, taking a roll in dramatic play games, and playing clay together while responding with comments and questions that encourage more conversation are great ways to build a bond. With kids this young I always assume they don't know how else to get the outcome they want and I give them phrases in.the moment to do that. Four is very young, it may look.like she isn't being nice to your precious child but from her point of view it probably looks like some strange child is invading her home, touching her things, and getting her in trouble for reasons she doesn't understand.

I see nothing wrong with telling her mom you didn't realize how much work caring for so many children would be and that you aren't cut out for it.
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#5 of 13 Old 12-08-2012, 06:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One_girl, I have known this girl since she was one. We do lots of activities, she is very sffectionate when she wants to be and tells us she is happy we watch her, etc. That is usually after she has been naughty though. I sense sarcasm when you say "my precious child." This girl truly is cruel to my daughter. She is cruel to her brother as well. Her grandma watches her a few days a week and says she is bad too. They have another random caregiver during the week as well. The problem is not her not having a bond with me or me "not being cut out" to watch her kids. I have a degree in El Ed and taught preschool. Pretty sure I can handle watching 3 kids, one of them being my own. I would have to guess part of the problem is not having a consistent caregiver. Her parents don't want to pay for daycare so they do what is cheap and find any ine that is available.
My question was whether or not I should continue to watch them, and if not, how I approach it with the mom as I don't want to damage our relationship. My question was not if I can handle babysitting. I hope I am just misinterpreting your tone.
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#6 of 13 Old 12-08-2012, 01:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EllasMommy10 View Post

 For example, E is very rough with her brother and yells at him. My DD, who is a huge baby lover and has always been sweet and gentle with the babies she knows, started yelling at him too. Then when we got home today, she started kicking our dog and bossing him around. I asked her why and she said, "E does it, Mommy." I don't want my impressionable DD to be influenced by such a naughty kid. This child also pretended to shoot us, cut off our heads, and kept talking about dead babies...! 

 

It seems as though E is working some things out--likely related to the new baby in the house. While that wouldn't be any big deal if you were alone with them, once your kiddo is in the mix there is certainly another consideration. In this situation, I'd be as honest as possible with the nice mom. She deserves it! But something like "your kiddo seems to be working something out, and she has a need to do that. I can really recommend a couple of people that could focus attention on her, as I fear that having yet another child in her space and situation might be making things worse or harder for her and she's ending up in situations where she's getting practice being mean" 

 

As a play therapist myself, there are plenty of kids I've worked with who have killed or maimed me in play. Would I have wanted my DD anywhere around? Heck no.

 

Trying out friends' naughtiness is pretty common, though...as soon as she figures out what happens at her house (dd, I mean) she'll likely knock it off. Like, "hey! What happens if I punch the dog, like E does?" When the dog runs away or growls and mommy makes the disappointed or concerned face and does all that gentle touch talk, well, that's the answer! "Probably don't need to try that one again...I figured it out!"

 

Hope that helps, momma.

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#7 of 13 Old 12-08-2012, 06:07 PM
 
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I thought you referred to her as mean.to your precious child and I was repeating your words. It should read your sweet incredibly sensitive child but I think precious is the same. I am not being sarcastic I was trying to highlight that if you truly see this as her bossy mean child versus your sweet sensitive child you need to rethink your tone and point if view or make it about you not her child. I also don't see how long you knew her as relevant if the bond isn't strong. I have been a mother to my child foe ten parsons and still our bond sometimes slips. The bond between teacher and child is also very different than the one you need for babysitting. I am great teacher but I truly suck.at babysitting because it is too emotionally demanding, especially when a child clashes with my dd ad my mama bear instincts come out.

I really don't think making it about your schedule is kind to the girl if her parents will see through that and she will be punished for it. Making it all about you is the way I would go.
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#8 of 13 Old 12-08-2012, 11:08 PM
 
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I think you should just be honest with your neighbor.  It's harder at first but better in the long run since she is your neighbor and you will continue to be around her/see her.

 

I recently had a somewhat similar situation (though just with my niece/sil and just playdates not babysitting) and i REALLY wish they just would have told me the truth even though that's hard.  My DD (now 4) went through a really rough period for about a year and a half where she would not share and was mean to other kids.  She and my niece especially butted heads.  It really hurt my nieces feelings and my SILs.  We were doing our best to address the behavior and tried so many things but it was a HARD and LONG period.  For months on end I would dread getting together with other kids because I KNEW DD would be mean no matter what I did beforehand.  Things are better now but DD is just not an easy kid.  I'm not saying any of this to excuse E's behavior and I probably wouldn't choose to have her around my kids either (especially if you see those behaviors showing up in your daughter).  I would encourage you to have a little compassion for her parents as it does sound as though they are TRYING to deal with it.  Each kid/parent combo is different and figuring out what works can be tough.  My brother's family stopped seeing us claiming scheduling conflicts and finding out the real reason 3 weeks ago really sucked.  I realize she is not family but it's still someone you will be around.

Any way, long way of saying that I think you should just be (gently) honest.  If the other mom brought cupcakes and a rewards chart it sounds like maybe you've already talked to her about the problem.  Maybe just explain that you aren't comfortable with the way she is treating your DD right now and as much as you want to help you have to put her first.  Just my two cents.


Becky- Wife to DH, Mama to "Nani" (July '08) "Coco" (July '10) and expecting one very wiggly baby boy in May 2013!

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#9 of 13 Old 12-09-2012, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lanamommyphd07 View Post

It seems as though E is working some things out--likely related to the new baby in the house. While that wouldn't be any big deal if you were alone with them, once your kiddo is in the mix there is certainly another consideration. In this situation, I'd be as honest as possible with the nice mom. She deserves it! But something like "your kiddo seems to be working something out, and she has a need to do that. I can really recommend a couple of people that could focus attention on her, as I fear that having yet another child in her space and situation might be making things worse or harder for her and she's ending up in situations where she's getting practice being mean" 

As a play therapist myself, there are plenty of kids I've worked with who have killed or maimed me in play. Would I have wanted my DD anywhere around? Heck no.

Trying out friends' naughtiness is pretty common, though...as soon as she figures out what happens at her house (dd, I mean) she'll likely knock it off. Like, "hey! What happens if I punch the dog, like E does?" When the dog runs away or growls and mommy makes the disappointed or concerned face and does all that gentle touch talk, well, that's the answer! "Probably don't need to try that one again...I figured it out!"

Hope that helps, momma.

I never thought about it that way! That my daughter is yet another child in her space right now. That really makes sense. Thanks for your response! It's very helpful!smile.gif
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#10 of 13 Old 12-09-2012, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you should just be honest with your neighbor.  It's harder at first but better in the long run since she is your neighbor and you will continue to be around her/see her.

I recently had a somewhat similar situation (though just with my niece/sil and just playdates not babysitting) and i REALLY wish they just would have told me the truth even though that's hard.  My DD (now 4) went through a really rough period for about a year and a half where she would not share and was mean to other kids.  She and my niece especially butted heads.  It really hurt my nieces feelings and my SILs.  We were doing our best to address the behavior and tried so many things but it was a HARD and LONG period.  For months on end I would dread getting together with other kids because I KNEW DD would be mean no matter what I did beforehand.  Things are better now but DD is just not an easy kid.  I'm not saying any of this to excuse E's behavior and I probably wouldn't choose to have her around my kids either (especially if you see those behaviors showing up in your daughter).  I would encourage you to have a little compassion for her parents as it does sound as though they are TRYING to deal with it.  Each kid/parent combo is different and figuring out what works can be tough.  My brother's family stopped seeing us claiming scheduling conflicts and finding out the real reason 3 weeks ago really sucked.  I realize she is not family but it's still someone you will be around.
Any way, long way of saying that I think you should just be (gently) honest.  If the other mom brought cupcakes and a rewards chart it sounds like maybe you've already talked to her about the problem.  Maybe just explain that you aren't comfortable with the way she is treating your DD right now and as much as you want to help you have to put her first.  Just my two cents.

Thanks for your perspective! I will definitely be gently honest with her then. I guess it doesn't do anyone any good if I am not honest about the situation. Hope things are getting better with your brother's family!
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#11 of 13 Old 12-09-2012, 08:50 AM
 
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maybe E is being subjected to things from someone else, otherwise where would she learn such things ?
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#12 of 13 Old 12-09-2012, 09:11 AM
 
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I agree with being gently (and non-judgmentally) honest with the mom. Avoid words like "mean" if you can because it will come across as judgmental... kids aren't usually mean, just inexperienced at dealing with intense emotions. What comes out as aggression really is just fear or hurt. That doesn't mean you have to have your kid around her... at least not to such a great extent. Maybe still have playdates or babysit once in a while but limit it to an hour every other week or something. Then you can maintain the relationship with both the kid & her mom, but greatly reduce how much your DD is exposed to. Also consider asking the mom out for coffee just the two of you on a Sat. morning or something, just little things to show you are wanting & willing to stay connected with her (if you indeed are).

I've been on the other side of this, my DS has some issues, and honesty from a friend really did help me see his issues in a new light & get him more therapy etc. At the same time, the way my friend approached it was really damaging to our friendship -- it came across as judgmental, as if I wasn't a good enough mom, wasn't trying hard enough, if only I did XYZ then DS would be OK. It's not that simple and hearing her say the things she said -- especially her word choice & tone -- really highlighted what the problems were, because obviously I had already tried XYZ (and 50 other things) and was doing my best and knew him best and all that. When you realize your best isn't enough, you realize you need professional help, because the issues are more intense than any mom could handle on her own. So in a weird way, even though it hurt our friendship and she was way off-base with her understanding of my DS (and me), it ultimately helped me get DS the proper help. Hopefully we will eventually rebuild the friendship.

What would have made a difference for me is if my friend had approached it with more compassion & desire to understand. I guess what I would have liked to hear from her might be something like, "Wow, you really have your hands full with DS, how are you coping? Is there anything I can do to help? I think you're doing an awesome job with your DS and all his struggles. I am having a hard time having my kids around him right now while he's dealing with so much, but DH is home Saturday morning, I can come watch your DS without my kids so you can get a break. Or we can have a mom's night Friday night. I'm here for you." Something on that idea would have felt so much better than what she actually said, which was well-meaning but (unintentionally) very hurtful.

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#13 of 13 Old 12-09-2012, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with being gently (and non-judgmentally) honest with the mom. Avoid words like "mean" if you can because it will come across as judgmental... kids aren't usually mean, just inexperienced at dealing with intense emotions. What comes out as aggression really is just fear or hurt. That doesn't mean you have to have your kid around her... at least not to such a great extent. Maybe still have playdates or babysit once in a while but limit it to an hour every other week or something. Then you can maintain the relationship with both the kid & her mom, but greatly reduce how much your DD is exposed to. Also consider asking the mom out for coffee just the two of you on a Sat. morning or something, just little things to show you are wanting & willing to stay connected with her (if you indeed are).
I've been on the other side of this, my DS has some issues, and honesty from a friend really did help me see his issues in a new light & get him more therapy etc. At the same time, the way my friend approached it was really damaging to our friendship -- it came across as judgmental, as if I wasn't a good enough mom, wasn't trying hard enough, if only I did XYZ then DS would be OK. It's not that simple and hearing her say the things she said -- especially her word choice & tone -- really highlighted what the problems were, because obviously I had already tried XYZ (and 50 other things) and was doing my best and knew him best and all that. When you realize your best isn't enough, you realize you need professional help, because the issues are more intense than any mom could handle on her own. So in a weird way, even though it hurt our friendship and she was way off-base with her understanding of my DS (and me), it ultimately helped me get DS the proper help. Hopefully we will eventually rebuild the friendship.
What would have made a difference for me is if my friend had approached it with more compassion & desire to understand. I guess what I would have liked to hear from her might be something like, "Wow, you really have your hands full with DS, how are you coping? Is there anything I can do to help? I think you're doing an awesome job with your DS and all his struggles. I am having a hard time having my kids around him right now while he's dealing with so much, but DH is home Saturday morning, I can come watch your DS without my kids so you can get a break. Or we can have a mom's night Friday night. I'm here for you." Something on that idea would have felt so much better than what she actually said, which was well-meaning but (unintentionally) very hurtful.

Thanks for your input as well! I appreciate it and hope things work out with your friend!

I ended up following all of your advice. I talked to my neighbor today. She was letting me know about a reward chart she wanted to do and her ideas on didferent solutions. I mentioned how I wondered if the multiple people watching her and her just not knowing what to expect might be causing some issues. I mentioned some simple ideas I remember reading about in Simplicity Parenting that might make her feel more secure and in control of her world. She agreed and said that she would try some of those things in addition to her reward chart. I told her that I know E is a good kid and just going through a rough patch, and that if there was anything I could do to help or if she has suggestions for things she wants me to do when I watch her, for her to let me know. I did say that I was concerned about how it was affecting my DD and that I just want both girls to be happy and thrive in our situation. She said that if at any time I felt it was more harmful than good for either if the girls, she would understand and find alternate care. She thanked me for caring about and for her kids and said she was thankful we are neighbors so I am pretty sure things went well (either that or she is good at masking her feelings). I really wanted to just stop watching them altogether, but if our roles were reversed, I wouldn't want them to give up on me and my DD so quickly. I plan on sticking this out through the end of December (unless things turn drastically worse) and reevaluating things then I guess.
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