Seeking advice on how to handle neighbor kids situation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-06-2011, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello--  I am seeking some advice on a neighborhood kid situation and would really appreciate any thoughts or feedback.  It is my goal to be kind and fair but I'm at a loss of how to handle this.

 

We live in a duplex on a corner lot and share our yard with another duplex. DS is best friends with the little girl who lives in the other duplex, I'll call her BF. BF comes over to our house to play very, very frequently.  She's like my "part-time" kid and I just adore her. She is welcome in our home any time and stays over for meals often.

 

Next door to our duplexes is a single-family home with another little girl, quite a few years older than DS and BF.  I'll call her NG for Neighbor Girl. NG comes over to our yard to play with DS and BF and they generally welcome her into the play even though they have both expressed to me that they aren't very fond of her. She means well but her social skills aren't the best, and she frequently tries to boss the other kids or use whining and cajoling to get her way.  DS and BF love to play together and can play for hours without incident. Not only are they age-mates but they share many common interests and personality traits. The problem I'm having is that whenever NG sees that BF is at our house playing, she comes over and asks to come in to play as well.  BF and DS typically do not wish for her to come over but will accept and include her if I say yes to coming inside. Sometimes I redirect the situation and send all of the kids outside instead. 

 

Just a few more bits of information about the situation:

 

--NG has a big fenced-in yard and has made it abundantly known that no one is to come inside the fence without her permission.  However she comes into our yard multiple times per day-- uninvited-- rings the doorbell frequently and other times stalks around our houses trying to peek in if she thinks something is going on. I think maybe she feels that our yard is "public property" since it is not fenced in.

 

-- I really want to stress to DS the importance of being kind and being inclusive. But I also think he has a right to have a friend over and play one-on-one. DS and BF do not have a problem with including NG once in a while, but they do prefer to be just the two of them. It is very hard to say no to a little girl who just wants to play. But it is also hard to hear BF and DS beg for a chance to play alone together.

 

--And it is quite frankly very irritating to hear our doorbell ring 10 times a day, or realize that someone is peeking in our windows!  At this point I have not ignored the doorbell because it seems too rude. She knows we are inside. However if it were the phone and not the door I would stop answering.

 

--NG has a very nice mother and although we are not really friends we are certainly on friendly terms. I would just hate for her to think that we dislike her daughter, or that I allow my child to exclude hers. However DS and BF just want to play together sometimes and her child will NOT stop coming over asking to be invited over to play as well.

 

If you've read this all the way through I really appreciate it!  I want to do the kind thing and the fair thing for all parties involved.  I want to model kindness and hospitality for DS but also model boundaries.  NG was a very challenging part of our summer last year and as the weather is warming up it has already started again.  I care a LOT about kids and I don't want to hurt NG.  I also think DS and BF should have a chance to play on their own at times. Hoping some other moms here will have some input or strategies on how to best handle this.

 

Thank you for reading this long-winded post!  I appreciate any feedback :)


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#2 of 13 Old 04-06-2011, 11:54 PM
 
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Well, since you haven't had any other replies I'll take a stab at it.

 

I think you should help model for your child how to set boundaries firmly but kindly. Could you say 'DS has a friend over right now but I'm sure he will come out to play later'. You'll probably need to be pretty blunt as she sounds like she doesn't pick up on social cues. If she persists in asking to come in then just say no, not right now. You could also say that she is only allowed to ring your doorbell 3 times a day. Then make sure your son and BF play with her sometimes. You could even say to her 'you know DS and BF would love to play in your yard sometime' and if she says they're not allowed you can say 'well, that's not very fair. you play in his yard all the time'. I think you will be doing her a favour by being clear and consistent. I wouldn't worry about the mum. If anything, she should be worried that her child is making a pest of herself. 

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#3 of 13 Old 04-07-2011, 07:16 AM
 
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In addition to Boot's superb ideas:

You could set up a code with your ds for when he's okay playing with NG too and when he isn't.

 

You would then either tell NG that she can play, or tell her that you can only handle two kids right now.

 

In my family, the code was if we asked in front of the kid our parents would be "mean" and say no.

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#4 of 13 Old 04-07-2011, 07:59 AM
 
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Just brainstorming... "Hey, NG. DS and BF have arranged to play together today. Would you like to set up a day to come over? How about Saturday?"

 

The idea being to limit it to once a week, maybe. DS can also say to her directly "Hi NG. I'm playing with BF today, but can you come over Saturday?" That's very nice and inclusive, yet sets boundaries. If pressed, he can repeat "Today it's me and BF, but we can all play Saturday."


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#5 of 13 Old 04-07-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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Love these ideas. In addition, I'd be very blunt with her about how you feel about her peeking in your windows.

 

Neighborhood issues can be so hard. I see know that in the past I let some of the neighborhood kids kind of walk all over me, because I didn't want to be rude and wanted to be accomodating and nice, and they didn't have the social skills yet to understand when the did something or asked for something that was out of line. Now I see it as my job to help them learn what is acceptable and what is not. I'm kind and polite about it, but I let them know the rules of my house, and let them know when something they do is inconvenient or rude. In my experience, the kids I talk to take it well, are more careful about their behavior at my house, and tend to come by less (once a week instead of a few times a day), which is perfect.

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#6 of 13 Old 04-07-2011, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boot View Post

Well, since you haven't had any other replies I'll take a stab at it.

 

I think you should help model for your child how to set boundaries firmly but kindly. Could you say 'DS has a friend over right now but I'm sure he will come out to play later'. You'll probably need to be pretty blunt as she sounds like she doesn't pick up on social cues. If she persists in asking to come in then just say no, not right now. You could also say that she is only allowed to ring your doorbell 3 times a day. Then make sure your son and BF play with her sometimes. You could even say to her 'you know DS and BF would love to play in your yard sometime' and if she says they're not allowed you can say 'well, that's not very fair. you play in his yard all the time'. I think you will be doing her a favour by being clear and consistent. I wouldn't worry about the mum. If anything, she should be worried that her child is making a pest of herself. 


(bolding mine)

 

This is all very helpful! I wasn't sure if people would reply and say that I really should just let the three kids work it out, or that if I have one neighbor friend over the other should be invited too. 
Also, the bolded part really resonated with me. The kind thing to do in the long run is model good neighbor-to-neigbor relations and not let her steamroll her way in through sheer persistance.  BF and DS are younger than she is but I think behavior like that could lead friends her own age to avoid her altogether.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

In addition to Boot's superb ideas:

You could set up a code with your ds for when he's okay playing with NG too and when he isn't.

 

You would then either tell NG that she can play, or tell her that you can only handle two kids right now.

 

In my family, the code was if we asked in front of the kid our parents would be "mean" and say no.


What a creative idea! I think DS would really go for this. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

Just brainstorming... "Hey, NG. DS and BF have arranged to play together today. Would you like to set up a day to come over? How about Saturday?"

 

The idea being to limit it to once a week, maybe. DS can also say to her directly "Hi NG. I'm playing with BF today, but can you come over Saturday?" That's very nice and inclusive, yet sets boundaries. If pressed, he can repeat "Today it's me and BF, but we can all play Saturday."



Reading those scripts, you are right, there is nothing the least bit mean or exclusive about any of that.  We all value one-on-one time with a friend. Having a concrete invitation for a future date might even relieve NG of some anxiety about whether or not she's going to get to play over.  I think on some level she knows the other kids would rather be a twosome and so the stalking and pestering is coming from a place of insecurity.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post

Love these ideas. In addition, I'd be very blunt with her about how you feel about her peeking in your windows.

 

Neighborhood issues can be so hard. I see know that in the past I let some of the neighborhood kids kind of walk all over me, because I didn't want to be rude and wanted to be accomodating and nice, and they didn't have the social skills yet to understand when the did something or asked for something that was out of line. Now I see it as my job to help them learn what is acceptable and what is not. I'm kind and polite about it, but I let them know the rules of my house, and let them know when something they do is inconvenient or rude. In my experience, the kids I talk to take it well, are more careful about their behavior at my house, and tend to come by less (once a week instead of a few times a day), which is perfect.


This is very encouraging. So there is hope for me yet!  I love having a neighborhood where there are plenty of kids to play with, especially since DS is an only child.  And the children really could not be nicer or more fun, some are kind of quirky like NG but they are KIND to each other and they are creative, bright, active kids.  Giving myself and DS permission to set boundaries is all we need at this point.

 

Thanks for all of the great replies!  I thought there might be some responses that if BF was over, NG should be invited in as well.  Or that saying "no, it's just BF and DS right now" would be allowing them to exclude her from play and unacceptable.  I think we can work this out after all.  I appreciate the feedback :)

 


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#7 of 13 Old 04-07-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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We have a similar situation, living in a duplex where DS is close friends with our next-door neighbor and the older girl from across the street comes over frequently, peeks in windows, rings the doorbell all the time, etc. -- so similar! Our yard is fenced, but the fence is in terrible shape and you can see right through parts of it, so she comes and peeks in our fence and asks to play when she sees DS out there with a friend.

 

I've just been polite but firm with her, saying, "DS has a friend over but we can play on Saturday morning -- how about 10:00?" and sticking to it (and limiting our playtime with her to about once a week). I've also addressed the peeking, saying, "Please don't peek in our windows or through our fence. It's polite to give people privacy when they're in their homes or yards." She also used to linger on our porch after I told her we couldn't play, so I had to address that too: "Remember, we can't play today but we'll see you Saturday. Head on home now, please." She got it eventually -- she doesn't do the peeking or lingering anymore, and she only rings our doorbell once every couple of days. And we've been good about sticking to our plans to play with her so that she doesn't feel like we're just brushing her off, and sometimes we'll swing by her house and invite her along when we're walking to the park. 


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#8 of 13 Old 04-08-2011, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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limabean-- your situation sounds just like the one we are going through! How funny. Thanks for the tips on how to handle it. It sounds like it worked for you so maybe they will work for us too.


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#9 of 13 Old 04-08-2011, 09:31 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

Just brainstorming... "Hey, NG. DS and BF have arranged to play together today. Would you like to set up a day to come over? How about Saturday?"


This is what I'd suggest as well.  My DC and I do this all the time - so far it works just fine.  

 

I want my DC to learn to say "no" but still be nice about it.  So, it's just like the above - no, not now, what about ... bla .. instead?   Not only is this nice, but I also find it as the most practical - unless we set up the next available time for playdate asap, I tend to forget, things come up etc.


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#10 of 13 Old 04-13-2011, 02:20 PM
 
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Send the NG home.After a few times she will get the idea and not come over. You should not force the kids to play with her.If the parent of NG asks what is up tell her what you did here. HG needs to learn appropriate social skills,and if she can not play nice she should not be allowed to play with your child and BF.

 

I would direct the concern of behavior to the mother.It is up to you if you want to seek the mother out,but not all parents are open to critical talk about their kids.If you tell NG  she might not *get it*, or will twist words when she repeats it to mom. If you do nothing and allow her to play NG will never learn how to behave well with others,and your child and BF will suffer. It is not your job to teach NG good social skills,and it is obvious that NG will continue to do as she has unless someone steps in and says NO.

 

 

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#11 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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Send the NG home.After a few times she will get the idea and not come over. You should not force the kids to play with her.If the parent of NG asks what is up tell her what you did here. HG needs to learn appropriate social skills,and if she can not play nice she should not be allowed to play with your child and BF.



But if she's socially not very sophisticated, she won't get it. That's why being very clear about when she can play is a better idea. "I'm sorry, we can only have 2 kids today. How about Saturday?" is much kinder than hoping she'll get it. If a child is having trouble learning socially appropriate behavior (even if it's pretty minor), teaching them directly what the rules are is both effective and kind.


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#12 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 12:22 PM
 
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I think you should also think about what you want to model for your son.  There is a difference between being "kind and inclusive" and "doing so to the point of unhappiness or discomfort".  If BF and DS are "begging" you for time alone, why wouldn't you grant them that?  It sounds like you've been more than kind and inclusive and inviting to NG, to the point of doing it over your DS and BF's wishes, and it's understandable and admirable to teach tolerance and inclusiveness but that seems to go way beyond where it healthily needs to go.  You can both encourage inclusiveness and let your DS's wishes be honored, you don't have to choose being "nice" over all else every time.

 

It's interesting to read your post, because we're dealing with something similar except the mom is really the one I've got to figure out how inclusive to be - she's the one who keeps inviting herself and her DD over.  Her DD sounds a lot like your NG, very whiny and wants her way all the time.  But I know she's a child and I don't blame her for that, but I'm really trying to figure out the line between being welcoming (we have done WAY more with this family than I'd like to, exactly because they seem to need some social interaction and not to have a lot of options), but I also have been clear with my DH (we really like the other family's DH, he's very nice, and my DH likes hanging out with him and does with the kids a lot).  But I've been clear with my DH - and with the other mom - that we also have times we like to do things on our own or with other friends, that it's nothing personal (it really isn't, we don't do EVERYTHING with any of our friends), and that we still invite them to things here and there.

 

But I also thought about what I want my DD to learn, and I want her to try to engage the other little girl, but if after awhile she really doesn't want to play with her or dreads it, I absolutely will NOT force her to hang out with her (well, maybe once in awhile, but not often).  I want my DD to grow up with the belief that she has the right to shape her world and choose the people she associates with.  I want her to always be kind, but she doesn't have to commit her time to people who bring her angst.

 

What do you want your little boy to learn about his choices and the value of his happy playtime vs. the value of engaging this little girl?  I really admire you (very much!) for what you want to teach him, but it doesn't have to be to that extent.  Maybe the bulk of his time should be with his friend alone, and the exception should be with NG.

 

And how to say that to the Neighbor Mom (NM) and NG?  If it were me, I'd be nice but honest and just say "I think it's great that NG feels comfy coming over and we still want her to do that.  But I also want DS to have alone time with his friend his age, so I'll be limiting how much other kids come over."  And to NG maybe have a clear parameter, like be proactive and set up a couple of specific play dates for the next week, but outside of those tell her you're letting DS and BF spend some same-age time together and you hope she understands and welcome her for the playdates.  (Not sure how old NG is - you said significantly older, but if these words would't make sense then I guess that wouldn't be a conversation with her.)

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#13 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post

Love these ideas. In addition, I'd be very blunt with her about how you feel about her peeking in your windows.

 

Neighborhood issues can be so hard. I see know that in the past I let some of the neighborhood kids kind of walk all over me, because I didn't want to be rude and wanted to be accomodating and nice, and they didn't have the social skills yet to understand when the did something or asked for something that was out of line. Now I see it as my job to help them learn what is acceptable and what is not. I'm kind and polite about it, but I let them know the rules of my house, and let them know when something they do is inconvenient or rude. In my experience, the kids I talk to take it well, are more careful about their behavior at my house, and tend to come by less (once a week instead of a few times a day), which is perfect.



That's my experience with kids and adults.  People mostly appreciate you being clear and kind with them about what your boundaries are.  And those who can't respect your boundaries, after you've tried to be patient about helping them understand them... well do you really want to keep dealing with them anyway?  There are consequences to not honoring other people's boundaries... and if their rules don't work for me, I have the choice of walking away or adjusting my behavior.  But I can't just keep showing up and disregarding someone else's boundaries, that's not fair to them or good for me.

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