Dealing with a friend's poorly behaved child. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

 

Today I had an experience at a playdate that got me upset and unsure of what to do now. Sorry that this is going to be a bit of a long winded post, but I really don't know who to turn to with this question.

 

Here's a little background: I have a 5 yo DS & a 3 yo DD. I have a longtime friend who's got a 4 1/2 DS & a 6 yo DD in kindergarten. We've been having weekly playdates for about 4 years now since our boys were babies. 

 

My friend's kids are very aggressive toward each other and have been since they were babies. My friend seems to deal with it by separating them so they don't play together rather than deal with the problem, but the way she chooses to parent is none of my business. My friend's DS has been aggressive toward my kids, and many times has been violent. My DS has been bitten, hit, kicked, shoved, etc by him. My DD has been a target for this kid at times, even when she was a baby.

 

I haven't really wanted to step in and discipline her DS when he's acting inappropriately toward my kids, because I don't feel it's my place - it's her responsibility. But clearly what she's doing to control the situation isn't working. Her DS ignores her and gets himself out of 'time-outs' etc whenever he feels like it. I have spoken to her DS directly only on very few occasions when he's done something which I think is going to truly harm my child, such as two handed shoving my one-year-old DD so she falls down hard face first. I usually end up explaining to my kids on the way home that the behaviour of their friend isn't acceptable and that they should never act like that to their friends. I can honestly say that both of my kids are very loving, non-violent kids - even toward each other.

 

Jump to today's incident: My friend's DS shoves my DS off of some playground equipment, hits him until my DS runs away screaming and crying. At one point it even looked like my friend's boy was about to bite my DS. Her DS runs back to the equipment and sits on it just as my friend gets there. Her DS proceeds to scream and wail and rock the equipment so hard that his mother can't get hold of him and he can't hear/doesn't listen to her threats of taking him home. I arrive at the equipment about 5 seconds later after checking that my DS is okay. I am so angry, and growing even more so because it looks like her DS is going to AGAIN get away with hurting my child. I reached down (friend is standing right next to me) put my hand on her DS's hand to stop him from rocking the equipment and to get his attention. I leaned in so I was at his eye level and told him in a firm (somewhat loud) voice that his behaviour was unacceptable and that it's not okay for him to hurt my kid. Then her DS stops screaming, stops violently shaking the equipment, face turns expressionless and he then proceeds to start crying. My friend then grabs him by the hand, says NOTHING to me, not one word, grabs her bag and loads her DS into the car and leaves the park.

 

This was 12 hours ago. I haven't heard a thing from her. We've been friends for 20 years or more, and to be quite honest, the only reason I've been going to playdates for all this time is because I like her as a friend so much.

 

I'm wondering if I stepped over the line in this situation. As I said, I'm not one to interfere with other people's kids, but I also don't think I should stand by and watch my kid get hit repeatedly.

 

Help! Thanks. 

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#2 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 01:48 AM
 
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it sounds like the end of the playdates is coming. 

let me tell you, this is not your fault.

you HAVE to stand up for your kids in these types of situations; YOU are arranging the playdates, thusly you are the one putting them into this situation. if it turns into a "bullying" situation, then why would you be leading them to a place where they get beaten up?

it sounds as though your friend AND her kids have gotten used to things being a certain way and you have suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) changed the rules. so be it.

i tell ya, i'm pretty patient with children, but when a child starts hurting another child, an adult HAS to put a stop to it.

if it's not going to be the parent of the child (and this happens frequently, don't kid yourself), then another adult has to step in. otherwise, the bullying child get the idea that this is OK behavior, that somehow or for some reason, it's OK for him/her to get away with it. and they push the limits and the boundaries. meanwhile, your kid is learning that he/she will be bullied, and all that will happen is that on the way home, he/she will receive a lecture about how they better not do the same thing to some other kid.

 

sorry for the (possible) loss of your friendship with the other mom, but maybe it's for the best, i hate to say...

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#3 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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If you lose the friendship, it's not a loss.  She obviously has no idea how to discipline her children.  The kid started crying because for the first time, he was held to task.  We have a rule among my son's friends' parents.  If you see my kid doing something wrong - you darn well better call him on it.  I don't have eyes in the back of my head and I trust these parents to help and they trust me.  The result of years of other parents telling the kids to stop hitting, kicking, throwing, etc. is that all the kids in this group know they won't get away with ANYTHING when the other parents are around.

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#4 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 09:24 AM
 
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Just curious..did your friend expect you to just sit and watch while her kid beat up yours?

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#5 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 10:35 AM
 
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Just curious..did your friend expect you to just sit and watch while her kid beat up yours?


I lost a friend for this very reason. She would say "let's let them work it out themselves". Meanwhile, it was my kid getting all black and blue. Uh, no way... end this now. Your kids deserve better than to be her kids punching bags.
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#6 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 10:38 AM
 
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I think that when the other child's parent is present, your actions are limited to protecting the other children if the other parent isn't doing so. This involves things like stepping between the aggressive child and the one being hurt, removing your own child, gently redirecting the aggressive child in a positive way, etc. But under no circumstances, unless the other parent has given you permission, is it okay to discipline someone else's child.

 

What you need in the playdate situation is for your children to be safe and protected from being hurt. That is a different thing from needing the aggressive child to "not get away with it" or to receive a certain kind of consequence.  Its hard to keep those needs straight sometimes. Its frustrating to see your child get repeatedly hurt.

 

It does sound the end of playdates is in sight.  

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#7 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 01:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

I think that when the other child's parent is present, your actions are limited to protecting the other children if the other parent isn't doing so. This involves things like stepping between the aggressive child and the one being hurt, removing your own child, gently redirecting the aggressive child in a positive way, etc. But under no circumstances, unless the other parent has given you permission, is it okay to discipline someone else's child.

 

What you need in the playdate situation is for your children to be safe and protected from being hurt. That is a different thing from needing the aggressive child to "not get away with it" or to receive a certain kind of consequence.  Its hard to keep those needs straight sometimes. Its frustrating to see your child get repeatedly hurt.

 

It does sound the end of playdates is in sight.  


I agree completely with this.  I'm sure that your friend felt that your reaction was over-the-top, and it probably was because it was (understandably) coming from years of pent-up frustration rather than from a desire to correct the child for this one single event.  Given what you've written about your friend, she most likely won't "understand" where you're coming from, I'm sorry to say!  I would be just as frustrated in your shoes, I'm so sorry that you're in this situation!  For the future, it's probably best to say something at the very start (i.e. gentle redirection), and to shadow your child at all times (to save from being pushed, etc), or when the mom asks for a playdate address your concerns then - "I'm worried about the kids' interactions, I'm worried about someone getting hurt, how can we fix this?" kind of thing.  Good luck!!

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#8 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 02:58 PM
 
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Yes, sorry to say I agree with the previous two posters.  You went over the line.  I can completely understand where you were coming from, and I certainly would have wanted to do the same thing you did, but the kid's mom was right there already.  You needed to let her handle it, even if you knew she wouldn't handle it well. You've already figured out she isn't effective at teaching her children to interact appropriately with each other or other children, so it's really your responsibility to keep your kids away from those kids. YOU should have been the one to pick up your kids without a word and storm off and leave her wondering what to do!   As it is, she is probably so used to squabbles that she thinks her son's behavior is typical and that you're over-reacting. (Again, I think I would have wanted to do exactly what you did!  But I have a lower tolerance for that kind of behavior, and I think I would have ended playdates a long time ago.)

 

 If it's possible to repair the friendship, it should probably be without children.

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#9 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 03:21 PM
 
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Yeah, I think you went too far. Justified...yes. Social no no...yes.

I think you should send her an email apologizing for correcting her child. Explain that you were wrong to let this build up so long that you stepped in. Then, throw the ball back in her court and ask her what the future is going to look like. Ask her how she wants you to respond when her ds hurts yours. Don't be snarky, be genuine.

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#10 of 19 Old 06-21-2012, 03:31 PM
 
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I would have stopped the playdates long ago. I'd be very upset if this happened to my DS, and completely understand what you did, though I would have been the one taking my child and leaving. No, you shouldn't just stand there and watch your children get hurt, part of our job is to protect them, especially when they're so young. Your little ones are being bullied, don't let them get used to it, they deserve better. If you really wanted to continue the playdates, I'd try writing a calm email discussing boundaries, expectations... but I don't think your friend would be very open to suggestions. Maybe a "girls night out (no children)" every once in a while would work better for your friendship?

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#11 of 19 Old 06-22-2012, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all. 

 

I truly appreciate all of your input.

 

I thought about putting an end to the playdates long ago, but since I don't have a lot of mama friends, I still agreed to our 'dates' even if they weren't the most enjoyable - for me or my kids. I guess I've been selfish in wanting to spend time with a friend of my own, and I've been hoping her kid comes to understand proper behaviour toward friends... So far not so good.

 

I sent a nice, long, FRIENDLY email tonight. We shall see how this plays out...

 

Thanks again, everyone. And if anyone else has an idea - I'm all ears!! :)

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#12 of 19 Old 06-22-2012, 07:06 AM
 
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I agree with the other posters that your first responsibility is to keep your children safe.   Just a thought: if it is just the one child that is initiating most of the aggression, it may be a special needs issue and not the mother's fault at all.  Honestly, the only time I've seen a child do the kinds of things you are describing is when the child had autism and a very hard time understanding the needs of others.  If this is the case, the other mother may feel very afraid and isolated already, and you may be able to offer your friendship outside of playdates, until the situation is brought under control.

 

Of course, it may well be a parenting issue, especially if both of your friend's children act this way.  Just something to consider.

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#13 of 19 Old 06-25-2012, 09:16 AM
 
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I agree with the other posters that your first responsibility is to keep your children safe.   Just a thought: if it is just the one child that is initiating most of the aggression, it may be a special needs issue and not the mother's fault at all.  Honestly, the only time I've seen a child do the kinds of things you are describing is when the child had autism and a very hard time understanding the needs of others.  If this is the case, the other mother may feel very afraid and isolated already, and you may be able to offer your friendship outside of playdates, until the situation is brought under control.

 

Of course, it may well be a parenting issue, especially if both of your friend's children act this way.  Just something to consider.

 

 

 

This is coming from the Mom of a special needs child..... that's no excuse for abusive behavior on the part of a child.  Yes, there are some disorders that cause children to become violent.  However, it's the mother's job to keep her son from harming other children.  She was failing miserably time and time again.  Social no no or not, I feel the Lil was completely justified in her actions.   If the child has special needs and is responding in this way to her son because of those needs, as a friend she deserves an explanation so that she can help her son better manage the situation himself.  

 

My son has SPD (sensory processing disorder).  When he was younger and would get overstimulated, he'd hit, kick, bite, etc.  We have worked hard over the years to give him tools to use to appropriately manage his behavior.  His friends growing up are still his friends today because I talked to the parents, explained what was happening and offered suggestions for them to help their children help my son when he gets overstimulated.  The result is my son has long term friendships, these children have learned empathy and compassion and we have lovely playdates :)


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#14 of 19 Old 06-25-2012, 09:54 AM
 
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 The kid started crying because for the first time, he was held to task.  We have a rule among my son's friends' parents.  If you see my kid doing something wrong - you darn well better call him on it.  I don't have eyes in the back of my head and I trust these parents to help and they trust me.  The result of years of other parents telling the kids to stop hitting, kicking, throwing, etc. is that all the kids in this group know they won't get away with ANYTHING when the other parents are around.

'

You did the right thing.  

 

I couldn't agree more with this.

 

Also, I do not think you crossed the line. That little boy did however, and your reaction was a consequence of his inappropriate actions. At his age, he has to understand that he will be held accountable for such poor behaviour, if not by his parents, then by others in society. 

 

And, as the parent of a child that would act up like that (albeit minus the aggression), I was/am always grateful when others remind him that it is not acceptable. It drives the message home that there is a standard of behaviour that's expected, not just from me (because my standards are pretty loose) but from others that are impacted by his actions and choices.

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#15 of 19 Old 06-25-2012, 12:56 PM
 
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No, I don't think you crossed the line at all. I would have done the same in your shoes. 


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#16 of 19 Old 06-25-2012, 01:54 PM
 
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If you lose the friendship, it's not a loss.  She obviously has no idea how to discipline her children.  The kid started crying because for the first time, he was held to task.  We have a rule among my son's friends' parents.  If you see my kid doing something wrong - you darn well better call him on it.  I don't have eyes in the back of my head and I trust these parents to help and they trust me.  The result of years of other parents telling the kids to stop hitting, kicking, throwing, etc. is that all the kids in this group know they won't get away with ANYTHING when the other parents are around.

'

You did the right thing.  

 

I think saying losing the friendship isn't a loss is over the top. Obviously you care about her. So, talk to her. Be as gentle and as kind as you can. And in reality, if my kid was touched by another adult, rather than that adult talking to me about it, I'd be mad too. I'm not saying she 'should be mad' just that I understand it.

 

Really you should have talked to her about it a long time ago. I get so upset when I see people willing to ditch friendships or advise others to do so when they haven't addresses the problems first!!!

 

If they are both aggressive kids, it could be that they have a really poor diet or something. When my kids are given foods the don't normally eat, such as corn sugar, they act very poorly, but most of the time they're great :)


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#17 of 19 Old 06-25-2012, 02:01 PM
 
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Also, I do not think you crossed the line. That little boy did however, and your reaction was a consequence of his inappropriate actions. At his age, he has to understand that he will be held accountable for such poor behaviour, if not by his parents, then by others in society. 

 

 

Totally!  I have been in the same place recently with a dear friend of over 5 years and her son.  Her son is appathetically agressive towards mine.  Ocasionally she says "No!" and takes her son's hand off mine.  I tried to teach my DS how to tell his "friend" that he didn't like being touched like that, that it hurts, but to no avail.  Her son would just stare blankly at him and continue pinching, or pulling or whatever.  My friend (the mama) was always talking about how she wanted to live in a strong community where children respected their elders as family...  Finally, I did almost the exact same thing as the OP (but I got there before his mama).  I said, "Stop!  That hurts!  It is NOT okay for you to touch B like that!" as I pried his little fingers off my DS's cheek.  His mama didn't say anything, and we had kind of subdued rest of the afternoon together kind of talking around the issue of parenting styles.  At the end of the day she told me that my ideas didn't really resonate with her (i.e. telling her DS that he was hurting someone, that we don't treat other living creatures that way, that Mama and Papa don't touch their friends that way, or pretty much explain anything to him because he was too young to completely comprehend).  When I bathed my DS that night he had scratches all over his little body and he told my DP "R hurt me today on my face and body".  That was the end of a friendship for me.

 

I appreciate when others step in and say something to my DS.  If what they say goes against our parenting style we talk about that later with our DS, but then he know that to other parents or some members of our community his behavior in unacceptable.  If what others say is totally 'wrong' in our view, we keep a distance or pack up and leave.

 

Oh, and the other thing I realized... just because I enjoyed the mama's company (until the end), that doesn't mean the other LO was ever a Friend to my son.  I was totally selfish in that way! 

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#18 of 19 Old 06-29-2012, 05:30 AM
 
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I think you had to overstep because you didn't speak up sooner.  From the other moms point of view, she sees her friend coming at her child and probably being "more" than she would expect.  I can understand how years of this building up can come out like that because I am one to not confront either.  I let it build up and BAM!  I would apologize to my friend and explain what happened.  If you are good friends hopefully she will accept your apology.  Then I wouldn't be setting up any more play dates for the kids.  Maybe just get together with her instead.  

The ideal situation would have been you talking to her long before now about her son and his behavior toward your son.  She is obviously oblivious (well that is a tongue twister!) to appropriate behaviors in children.

I hope you guys can work this out.  20 yrs is a long time to be friends with someone and have it end in this way.  Hugs.

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#19 of 19 Old 06-29-2012, 01:49 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lilhoney View Post

 I reached down (friend is standing right next to me) put my hand on her DS's hand to stop him from rocking the equipment and to get his attention. I leaned in so I was at his eye level and told him in a firm (somewhat loud) voice that his behaviour was unacceptable and that it's not okay for him to hurt my kid.

 

When my ds bit her kid, my friend told ds something like "hey, you hurt her. Look she's sad." And might have told him not to hurt her. She said it in a nice but slightly firm voice (the "nice" part was key). It didn't bother me any. I was right there holding and talking to him at the time. (holding him to keep him away from her dd, as he hadn't settled down yet).

It probably would have bothered me if she'd sounded harsh or mean. But I think I'm pretty darn hard to offend, so I probably let stuff roll off my back that others would be really bothered by.

 

 

I addressed another child a while back because he was hurting my ds (he was standing on his hand, and this child was aware of it). I was harsher than I ought to have been, but simply said "Hey, you're hurting him. Get off his hand." The mom hadn't seen it, and wasn't right there. She didn't say anything to me, but I apologized to her the next time I saw her for speaking harshly to her son. She didn't seem too bothered by it, but maybe my apology was the reason she wasn't too bothered.

 

I don't see anything wrong with telling a child, in a nice way, how their actions are affecting your child, or to address a child to stop them if they are in the process of hurting your child. But it's most definitely an area to tread carefully, especially if the mom is in the process of dealing with her child.


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