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#1 of 11 Old 05-31-2012, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD (age 7) always has friends over to play. Seems like 4-5 of the kids in the neighborhood are always over here - we live in a very low income neighborhood, with high drug use, and I usually make them dinner and give them afterschool snacks and often have to take them home at night because their parents forget to get them.

 

Sometimes DD and her best friend, a 7-year-old boy, decide they don't want to play with a particular child. I don't ever force DD to play with someone she doesn't want to, but its starting to feel like she and her best friend are enjoying the power they have in sending the other kids away. Sometimes they will play together, and sometimes they choose not to. But the worst is when there are 4-5 kids over and they decide they no longer want to play with one of them. I'm not sure what to do then. The child who is left out feels terrible, and it just seems wrong to send him home.

 

But on the other hand, if I encourage them to play nicely together and DD and her friend don't want to play with someone, they will sneakily antagonise the unwanted child until he hits or kicks them, and then I send him home. It seems really unfair.

 

No doubt what they need is constant supervision, but I am unable to provide this. However, if I ask the whole lot of them to leave, they're on the streets getting even less supervision.

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#2 of 11 Old 06-02-2012, 09:24 AM
 
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Oh wow. This is a dilemma.

 

On one hand you don't want to force your child to play with anyone she doesn't want to and on the other hand, any child that is not wanted in play will be out on the street or home alone.

 

What to do? Not an easy answer. The other children aren't your responsibility and yet at the same time, they are your responsibility. I believe in the 'it takes a village' concept. Judging by the way you are towards these kids, I am sure you believe in the same concept.

 

What would I do? I'd be honest and tell my dd that her actions weren't nice. I'd do a lot of discussion on how she would feel if she were in the unwanted child's position. I would reinforce this concept constantly. If that failed, I would probably succumb to looking after the children who weren't included in play (I'd include them in chores, leave some books around for them to read etc).

 

I think it's fantastic that you make them dinner. Well done mama. One day these kids will grow up - There is no doubt that they will have fond memories of you and be thankful for the little bit of normalcy that you've provided them with.
 


 

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#3 of 11 Old 06-02-2012, 09:28 AM
 
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Upon further thought, I would actually offer the child who was antagonized, something really fun to do after they had been removed from the group. Something that the others AREN'T allowed to do. This will give the other children a lot of reason to not behave rudely towards the one child, because after they do, that child is rewarded with something fun.. And which child actually wants their peer to have more fun than they do?

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#4 of 11 Old 06-02-2012, 01:31 PM
 
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Upon further thought, I would actually offer the child who was antagonized, something really fun to do after they had been removed from the group. Something that the others AREN'T allowed to do. This will give the other children a lot of reason to not behave rudely towards the one child, because after they do, that child is rewarded with something fun.. And which child actually wants their peer to have more fun than they do?

 

This is a good idea but watch for it backfiring where one child antagonizes the other so the other will kick them out, then the child gets to do something fun the others don't simply because the other kids didn't want a kid who was being mean around them. 

 

I've never been in a situation where kids were at my house and if I asked them to leave they wouldn't have a safe place to go so take this with a grain of salt:

 

Is it that these kids aren't safe at home? Do their parents just not care at let them play outside alone in a dangerous neighborhood? That concerns me way more than kids not playing with other kids. If these children are truly being neglected (unsupervised, left outside where it's dangerous, not fed snacks/dinner) then all the after school activities and meals your provide won't solve the problem.

 

I do feel that it takes a village but at some point parents need to take care of their own children. Are the parents using you as free childcare and meals? Would they step up to care for their children if you stepped down?

 

You said that you're unable to provide "the supervision they need". If that is so why are all these kids at your house? I don't want that to come across as snarky. If you're truly unable to properly supervise a bunch of kids then maybe your house isn't the best place for them every day? Maybe it is? Maybe it's just better than the alternatives?

 

Tough situation.

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#5 of 11 Old 06-02-2012, 11:02 PM
 
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I think you are very generous with your time and your food. I'm sure your daughter is learning some wonderful lessons from you.

With respect to this particular situation, I'd set up certain days or times when your child can play with just one friend so that she's able to have some control over her situation. And I'd be really clear with her that on other days, when there are guests in your home regardless of who invited them, that you treat them graciously and kindly.

We have a no exclusion rule at our house. Anyone who wants to play needs to be accommodated. If one of my kids doesn't feel like they can be inclusive, they are welcome to have time alone, but they can't choose to exclude on guest in favour of another.

I'd also maybe set up a separate quiet play area with maybe some colouring books or playdough or something where these kids can go for a bit of downtime if they need/want to be away from the group.

hth


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#6 of 11 Old 06-07-2012, 02:43 PM
 
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I don't allow our children to leave anyone out when they're playing in a group. If my dd were picking a child to exclude, I would tell her that if she can't be kind to everyone, then she's done playing with friends for the day.

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#7 of 11 Old 06-07-2012, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You said that you're unable to provide "the supervision they need". If that is so why are all these kids at your house? I don't want that to come across as snarky. If you're truly unable to properly supervise a bunch of kids then maybe your house isn't the best place for them every day? Maybe it is? Maybe it's just better than the alternatives?

 

 

Kid #1 - 7 years old. He generally comes over at 9am and stays until 8:30pm. He can go home - the door is unlocked there - but often there is no one at home. I considered calling 911 when there was no one at home but I guess I feel really badly for the family; mom's in the hospital and dad is at work.  guess what I fear most is that CPS won't really do anything, just do a plan of correction if that, and that the boy's father will then forbid him from coming to our house.

 

Kid #2 - 4 years old. He comes over for a few hours each day, usually. His dad is a single parent who lives across the street. His dad is generally responsive when I call and say there is a problem, and he will come get his child, but unless someone calls him, the child could be anywhere; sometimes the 7 year old will take him to his house, then there are 2 children unsupervised in a house that is not child-friendly (e.g. has guns).

 

Kid#3 - 5 years old. He is left in the care  of his brothers who are about 10 and 11. The older brothers have been doing crazy stuff lately like taking the riding lawnmower out onto the streets and chasing the little kids; shooting at the little kids with an air-pellet gun, taking the younger kids toys and breaking them. Both myself and the neighbor across the street have called the police, but the police's response so far has been to tell the kids to take the lawnmower home, don't shoot the air rifles at people, and go apologize to the parents of the kids' toys you broke (which they do).

 

Kid#4 - 7 years old; she's the sister of the one above.

 

Kid#5 - gone to foster care (removed from the house across the street after being seriously injured while being molested by a person yet unknown at that address).

 

Kid#6 and #7 - situation at home was particularly bad and I did end up calling CPS. CPS gave them a plan of correction and said they would be back in 30 days. The family packed up and left to another state before the end of the week.

 

When I say I am unable (more likely unwilling, being a single mom in total burnout mode) to provide the supervision they really need, what I mean is that I am not out there with them coaching them through their interactions, but I am in earshot and respond to screaming or worrisome noises or the lack of noise.

 

The neighborhood is a mixture of people who are not very responsive to their children and aren't aware of their children's needs and are using drugs, etc, and neighbors who are very responsive to their children, always know where they are, etc. Its an odd mixture of low-income and middle class homeowners. Things got worse when the recession started; the neighborhood used to be pretty safe. But now it has quite a few houses in which people rent for 6 months then leave or are evicted. Turnover among these families is pretty frequent and I know that the kids that are visiting today will probably not be here a year from now.

 

I'd like to move but can't really afford to. I own this house but the value of it is less than the mortgage currently. I've thought about just ditching it and getting a rental in a better neighborhood, and let my credit take a hit, but I hate the thought of not being able to buy another house for 7 years (until my credit recovers from the hit). I love the house and yard because its got a big yard with lots of room to play. Our county just got elevated to the county with the most heroin use in the country, and the task force and police are currently overwhelmed. Any place I could afford around here is likely to have similar problems, and my job is really great; I hate the idea of trying to find another job so that we could move to another county. My current job is so flexible I can homeschool and work, and I can also bring my child to work with me.

 

The downfall of the neighborhood happened so quickly that I keep thinking its bound to return to normal pretty quickly as well. I'm thinking this is just a particularly bad time but it won't be like this forever, or for very long. I might be fooling myself.

 

I also wonder what will happen to the other kids if we leave. #1, in particular. He seems to be an unattached child. Even when he's hurt he won't ask for comfort or seek out comfort, doesn't want his mom or dad, hides away, likes people or dislikes people based on what they have or what kind of car they drive and not on who they are. After two years of having him here for most of the entire day, every day except for the time he is in school, and him making decisions based solely on "what will she do to me if don't comply" or "what will she give me if I comply," last weekend he, amazingly, saw that I was upset because of some goofy thing the other children did, and cleaned up after the other children solely because he was responding to my distress and not because of what consequence he would receive. He is starting to attach but its really fragile right now.

 

I like the idea of me playing with the child who is left out, not as a lesson to the other children but just in response to his distress. I will sometimes do 30 minutes of floortime with that child. Sometimes he is welcomed back into the group after that; if not, I'll usually let him play on the computer or something. But I only do that if I feel like it (I'm trying to manage burnout).

 

I like the idea of setting aside a few days of the week for DD and #1 to play alone together. They sometimes want to invite another child over and that's when it starts to get hairy, because they will play for a few hours then want the child to go away. My response is to remind them that they invited the child therefore they are committed to playing with the child. But they are masters at escalating the other child until the other child has to go home for hitting. It might work to set a time limit upon invitation ("okay, you can invite #3 over from 4pm until 6pm") then it doesn't get to the point where the child is being rejected. But he will wonder why #1 gets to stay and he doesn't. But I guess I can figure that out.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-27-2012, 05:03 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that your compassion and patience are admirable! I wish I had suggestions, but sadly I do not know of any way to make things easier for you. Just giving you kudos :)


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#9 of 11 Old 07-01-2012, 01:41 AM
 
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Wow. You have such a good heart. Thank you for welcoming your neighbors in your home. Your community is lucky to have you.

 

I guess that at the ages you are mentioning, these kids should be capable of playing by themselves too. Is there a way for the child getting eased out to move into other activities like reading, coloring, or just playing with the other toys? That way no one is forced to play with one another but they dont have to go home to a less than ideal situation either.

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#10 of 11 Old 07-01-2012, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to say that your compassion and patience are admirable! I wish I had suggestions, but sadly I do not know of any way to make things easier for you. Just giving you kudos :)

 

Thanks. I really appreciate it :). I am developing those terrible things therapists like to call "boundaries..." it feels all wrong to me to place my needs ahead of these children's, because this time in their life is so short yet it can have a big impact on them, while from my perspective in five years things will be so different I'm sure I'll wonder why it seemed so hard and couldn't I have given just a little bit more.

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#11 of 11 Old 07-01-2012, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow. You have such a good heart. Thank you for welcoming your neighbors in your home. Your community is lucky to have you.

 

I guess that at the ages you are mentioning, these kids should be capable of playing by themselves too. Is there a way for the child getting eased out to move into other activities like reading, coloring, or just playing with the other toys? That way no one is forced to play with one another but they dont have to go home to a less than ideal situation either.

 

The dynamic arises that once they decide they don't want to play with someone in particular, usually because that someone has done something that is a little bit unacceptable (like carrying a physical game just a bit too far, such as throwing the ball too hard when they are playing catch), then it is, from their point of view, enormously offensive that that child gets to come inside and play with fun stuff. That fun stuff which was uninteresting moments before suddenly becomes priceless. Plus these children are all craving connection with other people. That is all that matters to them. They are not good at playing independently. I wish Big Brothers Big Sisters would just send their applicants here every day, so each child could get the one-on-one connection that they so need and want. 

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