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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not sure if this is the best place for this thread or not, but I couldn't think of where else it might go, so here it is.


The other day I took my son (20 months old) to a friend's house to play with her kids, who are 6 and 3 1/2. We haven't spent much time with them, maybe one or two visits since he was an infant.

The kids were super excited to see him, as they love little kids, but were really overwhelming for him, trying to hug him and pick him up. They also cornered him behind the couch and wouldn't let him out, which stressed him out quite a bit. Their mom tried to get them to calm down, but they didn't. They were also hitting, punching, and wrestling with each other a lot, and then they started fighting about who got to play with my son. Though I thought they were pretty rough, I thought that this is somewhat normal kid stuff, at least for some kids, and I wasn't too bothered by it initially. I just tried to make sure my son was comfortable and felt like he had me close enough in case he needed support.

He quickly got used to them and they wanted to take him upstairs to play. I went with them because I didn't think they were old enough, obviously, to supervise my little one. They were climbing on top of their bunk beds then jumping off the top bunk onto a pile of pillows (which I thought was dangerous, but I did this when I was little too) and they wanted my son too also. When I told them he was too young and would get hurt, they told me no, and pushed my hands back when I tried to take my son off the ladder. They then tried to hold me back from getting my ds as he was trying to climb the ladder to get on the bunk bed.

Later, they encouraged him to throw toys, though I gently reminded him that "we don't throw toys," and the kids said things like "Don't listen to your mommy! Throw more!" Then there was more fighting, wrestling, hitting, screaming, and crying as the siblings fought with each other and fought about playing with my son. This went on for the entire visit.

Then the boy (the 6-y-o) came up to me and "cut" my arm several times with a rubber spatula. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was cutting me so I couldn't take my son home and they could keep him. His mom told him that wasn't nice, even if he was joking, and asked him to apologize, but he didn't. (He watches all kinds of violent TV and has Japanese anime comic books with all sorts of blood and gore.)

After all of this wildness, my son finally got into the act and jumped on the 6-y-o on a pile of blankets, screaming and wrestling with him, and trying to kiss his face. It looked a little like he might bite, but he has never bitten before. (He likes to do these open-mouth kisses that we call "skarky kisses" because his teeth usually push against your face during the "kiss," but it's not painful.) He also started flapping his arms around wildly and hitting the 6-y-old. I told him, "Gentle! Don't hit. Be gentle," and the boy said, "That's ok! I like it! Keep hitting me!"

There was a constant refrain of "Don't listen to your mommy! Run from her! Keep doing what you're not supposed to be doing!"

When we left, the younger child (my friend's daughter) had had a complete meltdown because my son wouldn't hug her on demand, so she was lying in bed looking at a video with her mom, and my friend asked her son (the 6-y-o) to walk my son and I out and lock the door when we left. As we went downstairs, the boy hugged me, or so I thought, but what he was really doing was preventing me from leaving, holding onto me first around the waist, then by the legs. I joked around with him, then tried to tickle him, then asked him to please let go, then told him more sternly "This is not funny anymore. You need to let me go now." I tried to remove his hands from me, but I couldn't without hurting him. (Before you laugh about me being restrained by a 6-y-o, I should tell you that I am only 5'2" and he is almost as tall as I am.) My son was climbing up some steep stairs, and I explained to the boy that I needed to get him so he didn't fall and get hurt, and he said no and wouldn't let go of me, and told my son, "Run! I'm not going to let her take you!" I could've gotten out of his grip if I hurt him, but I wasn't willing to do that. After 10-15 minutes of this, I had to call his mom to come down to get him to let go of me!

I know some of this is normal kid stuff, but their disrespectful and contradictory behavior really bothered me, and I was really bothered by the six-year-old physically restraining me and preventing me from getting my son or leaving, no matter what I said. Am I overreacting? I worry about having my son around kids who act like this, but I don't want to damage my relationship with my friend by refusing to get together. I don't want my son to act like this and be so disrespectful and contradictory towards others, especially people he hardly knows!

Their mom didn't hear a lot of it because we were upstairs (I was trying to change my son's diaper) and she was downstairs; never mind that she had told them NOT to go upstairs so I could change my son's diaper without being disturbed.

I guess I am questioning her parenting style, wondering how I can get my son to NOT act like that without being overly harsh, and also wondering if it's going to be bad for him to have these kids as an influence.

Any thoughts?
 

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Uh, I wouldn't call any of that normal kid stuff, I would call that insanity. Those children are obviously not appropriate with a young child (or with an adult either, for that matter), so it is not a situation I would bring my child into again.
 

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I wouldn't go to their house again... none of that was very normal... and next time a child restrains you, don't wait 10 minutes call his mother immediatly and explain to her what her child just did and how you find it unacceptable....
 

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Some degree of wrestling and jumping is normal, but I can honestly say that I could never ever see my son (4 1/2) or my daughter (2 1/2) acting in such a horrible way - even if I wasn't there. I wouldn't presume to know what influence is having such an effect on them (though my first guess from your post would be the types of movies, etc.) but I don't think that level of violence or disrespect is "normal" on any level. These kids are going to have a very tough time in school it sounds like, and I don't think they are going to be much of a good influence for your son as he gets older.

K.
 

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I would avoid having the children together. Your son will learn their behavior, and probably fairly quickly.

I have a 20 month old daughter, and if I have any problems with kids encouraging her to run form me or hitting or anything, I tell the need to set her a good example.

From what you describe, I don't know if that would work though.

Maybe tell your friend the age difference is a problem, or something like that? Can you get together without kids, or while hers are in school or something? It's tough with a little and that age difference anyhow, even with kids that aren't a problem. They are just at such different developemental levels, and playing with toys that aren't safe for the little ones.
 

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Is this a good friend? Through your post I kept wondering where she was...
These kids seem to be running the show in that home. Their behavior was *not* normal, and extremely inappropriate. Yes, your son will pick up on the behaviors and mimick them if you allow him to be exposed. I would not attempt a playdate with this mama again
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It sounds like you were being held captive and the mama was taking the opportunity to escape, herself!
: I am sorry you had to go through that--yikes!
 

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Don't get together with the kids anymore. It is that simple. Clearly doesn't work. Not close enough in age (though that wouldn't be a problem without...); their mom won't correct the problems; your son will pick this behavior up soon; the whole thing sounds awful.

Personlly I'd have no problem telling her that your son is too young to play with kids her kids' ages. Then make plans to go out to lunch with her, or walk the lake, or whatever - when your dhs are both home to stay with kids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
Uh, I wouldn't call any of that normal kid stuff, I would call that insanity. Those children are obviously not appropriate with a young child (or with an adult either, for that matter), so it is not a situation I would bring my child into again.
Ok, I have to admit that I actually didn't think it was all that normal either, but I was trying to be careful in my posting, thinking that maybe I was overreacting. I didn't want to be too judgmental of my friend's children, even though I was thinking "OH MY GOD! I can't believe how they are acting!" the entire time. They were just so disrespectful and ornery!

Now I have to figure out how I will handle it if she asks to get together again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Originally Posted by Kirsten View Post
Then make plans to go out to lunch with her, or walk the lake, or whatever - when your dhs are both home to stay with kids.
Unfortunately, I am a single mom, and she is almost a single mom because she has a husband who is a workaholic, so that's not really an option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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Originally Posted by dillonandmarasmom View Post
Is this a good friend? Through your post I kept wondering where she was...
These kids seem to be running the show in that home. Their behavior was *not* normal, and extremely inappropriate. Yes, your son will pick up on the behaviors and mimick them if you allow him to be exposed. I would not attempt a playdate with this mama again
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It sounds like you were being held captive and the mama was taking the opportunity to escape, herself!
: I am sorry you had to go through that--yikes!
Yes, it was weird. A lot of this happened when my son and I went upstairs to change his diaper. I asked if we could go upstairs to get some privacy because he doesn't really like an audience. (I am not sure if he's shy or just gets distracted or what, but he acts distinctly uncomfortable when having his diaper changed around strangers.) Despite this, and her telling the kids to stay downstairs, they came upstairs every time and she didn't follow. I don't like to discipline other people's kids either, so that left me in a very uncomfortable situation.

I think she is pretty exhausted because she doesn't get much help from her husband, and her kids are a handful. I also wonder if it's because she grew up in a household with 7-8 siblings and her mother was mentally ill. Maybe this is normal to her?

What I saw was a lot of not following through. She'd tell them "Be careful with him. He's just a baby." and that sort of thing, but then not make sure they did what she asked.

I also had another uncomfortable experience with them when my son was only 3 months old. Her daughter wanted to hold him, but she was only 2, and I didn't feel totally comfortable with it because she's such a wild kid. Her mom kept telling her no, but she kept asking and crying and whining, so then her mom said, "Well, sit on the couch and maybe you can hold him," so I agreed, but then she tried to get up while holding him and was flopping him all over the place, and I was pretty upset about the whole thing. I took my son back from her, but she kept demanding that I let her hold him over and over. I didn't.

One more story about these little "darlings": At my son's first birthday party, I had made him a homemade cake covered with a variety of fresh berries. When it was cake time, the kids gathered around the cake to sing "Happy Birthday." As soon as we blew out the candle, my friend's daughter grabbed a handful of berries off the top of his cake before my son even got to touch it, and then her brother immediately grabbed a bunch, and then the rest of the kids followed suit because they thought it was the thing to do. I was pretty upset since this was his first birthday, and I wanted all the pictures of him eating his first birthday cake, and had wondered how he'd react to it and all that. They destroyed his cake in two seconds flat!
:

How would you all handle it if your kids were acting like this? I wonder, as a relatively new parent, how I would react to my son if he acted this way, without being one of those overly harsh parents that screams at their kids all the time. I want my son to be well-behaved, but not out of fear. I don't want to be negative with him all the time. My parents got my brother and I to behave out of fear of being spanked (seriously, to the point of severe bruising--it was child abuse). Due to my childhood, I want to use a very different approach with my son, a gentle and loving approach, but sometimes I worry about him turning out like my friend's kids! I already have a hard time getting him to respond to no, which I only use in serious situations, but I am not sure if this is typical of kids at his age or not. I guess this experience has made me think about all of these issues.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bisou View Post
One more story about these little "darlings": At my son's first birthday party, I had made him a homemade cake covered with a variety of fresh berries. When it was cake time, the kids gathered around the cake to sing "Happy Birthday." As soon as we blew out the candle, my friend's daughter grabbed a handful of berries off the top of his cake before my son even got to touch it, and then her brother immediately grabbed a bunch, and then the rest of the kids followed suit because they thought it was the thing to do. I was pretty upset since this was his first birthday, and I wanted all the pictures of him eating his first birthday cake, and had wondered how he'd react to it and all that. They destroyed his cake in two seconds flat!
:

How would you all handle it if your kids were acting like this? I wonder, as a relatively new parent, how I would react to my son if he acted this way, without being one of those overly harsh parents that screams at their kids all the time. I want my son to be well-behaved, but not out of fear. I don't want to be negative with him all the time. My parents got my brother and I to behave out of fear of being spanked (seriously, to the point of severe bruising--it was child abuse). Due to my childhood, I want to use a very different approach with my son, a gentle and loving approach, but sometimes I worry about him turning out like my friend's kids! I already have a hard time getting him to respond to no, which I only use in serious situations, but I am not sure if this is typical of kids at his age or not. I guess this experience has made me think about all of these issues.
:

The cake thing would have made me lose my mind. I cannot believe the mom didn't step in.
:
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I have a daughter who doesn't respond to "no" and I think you're right in only using it in serious situations. I don't think it's necessarily an age thing (mine is 3) but more a personality thing. Is he a very focused and un-distractable child (like mine)? I feel like screaming sometimes, because my daughter always seems to be into something, usually borderline dangerous, but I remember this phrase "get curious, not furious" and try and see the world a bit from his point of view. I don't think your son will turn out like your friend's kids. You are actively parenting and disciplining (not in the harsh sense, in the teaching sense), which doesn't seem to be your friend's approach. It sounds like you are a playful parent, and model the correct behavior.

Like the pps said, I would stay away from your friend's kids for now, and depending on how your relationship is tell her why. Otherwise if you get roped into going there again, you might want to "accidently" leave a copy of "Raising Your Spirited Child" at her house!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bisou View Post
How would you all handle it if your kids were acting like this? I wonder, as a relatively new parent, how I would react to my son if he acted this way, without being one of those overly harsh parents that screams at their kids all the time. I want my son to be well-behaved, but not out of fear. I don't want to be negative with him all the time. My parents got my brother and I to behave out of fear of being spanked (seriously, to the point of severe bruising--it was child abuse). Due to my childhood, I want to use a very different approach with my son, a gentle and loving approach, but sometimes I worry about him turning out like my friend's kids!
This is a pretty normal concern when your child is still a baby (as I pretty much consider a 20-month-old to be), but there is a HUGE range of discipline tactics in between doing nothing, as your friend seems to do, and spanking. My son is 3.5, he has never been spanked, and he would NEVER behave this way. We simply don't permit him to carry on with any behavior that is rude to others. For example he went through a period of some major screaming fits, when he was well old enough to use his words. It was very disturbing to others. Every time he did this, I firmly told him, "It's not okay to scream. You need to use your words." And I would carry him into this room, or if we were in public or at someone's house, I would carry him away to a more private place. It took a lot of times but he learned that 1--screaming is not going to get him what he wants, and 2--screaming bothers other people and means you have to leave the activity/gathering until you calm down.

I bet the mom is pretty overwhelmed, but still -- 6 and 2.5 isn't THAT close together. The behavior you describe really makes it sound like she is incredibly permissive and always has been. I certainly wouldn't be getting together for any more playdates.
 

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I don't think you have to worry about your ds being like that. Temperament plays a big part. I do know one boy that gets physical kind of like that (also doesn't respond to being told no and is very persistant). He has mild autism and the physical stuff is sensory seeking behavior in his case.

I know kids who will tell others to run away because mommy is trying to take them home. Mine does this right now. I could see him doing the pretend cutting thing, too. None of the individual behaviors on their own strike me as unusual, but a whole visit of them back to back does.

My ds could have behaved similarly when he was 4 if he was underrested and hungry, but at 5 1/2 he has mellowed out considerably. So if your friend's ds was 4, I wouldn't be too surprised, but for a 6 yo the behavior really stands out as unusual.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bisou View Post
How would you all handle it if your kids were acting like this? I wonder, as a relatively new parent, how I would react to my son if he acted this way, without being one of those overly harsh parents that screams at their kids all the time. I want my son to be well-behaved, but not out of fear.
My son's too young to really know but from what I've observed in families of pretty much ALL parenting styles is that except in cases where something else is going on (huge stress at school, imminent divorce, illness, or challenges like ADHD, etc., kids know what their parents' bottom lines are.

I don't mean that they won't test, or disobey, or have days where they are just constantly challenging. If this had been only one day I would have said maybe try once more, but since their behaviour was like that at the birthday party too I think that's enough evidence.


OVERALL I think kids generally do what they get away with. For example in my SIL's house the kids "backtalk" a lot. That doesn't especially bother her (I agree). But she cannot handle her things being broken and generally the kids don't even handle her "favourite" things (with some exceptions... her son carved his initials in a dresser and of course true accidents happen.) Of course she also has developed the habit of taking the kids outside early every day and getting their energy out, and again in the afternoon... it's not a simple "no" but the whole flow of the day. :)

A family is an organic thing and I think parents and their kids, for the most part, work these things out - as long as they are not overwhelmed and stressed out all the time. At developmentally appropriate ages, of course - my son knows it's important to be gentle with the cats, already, and he knows I will intervene right away, but being 18 mos old he still does reach for the tails sometimes. :)

In your friend's house it sounds like she is tired out and the kids know that when she says "don't do that" they have no reason to stop.

Your son will have grown up in your house with your guidance and by the time he reaches those years he will both know how to press your buttons /and/ know which tone of voice means a consequence is really about to happen. Plus you will have learned how to intervene when it's really necessary in a way that makes sense to both you and your child.
 

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I don't think it' an overreaction on your part to decide to keep your son away from those kids, especially at his young age. That is all very weird and upsetting.

I have an acquaintance whose 4yo dd loves babies, and she seems to let her dd believe that babies are her personal plaything. She would try to half pick up ds, end up kinda dragging him around, it was awful. I never knew how to handle it, so I ended up avoiding them altogether.

I would try to find ways to carve out some time to spend with your friend when her kids are in school or something. Until then, become very "busy".
 

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Wowzahs. Those children sound over the top. Geez.

ITA that some degree of wrestling, roughness with a younger child is normal - they are excited and they just don't get it. And also the physically preventing you from leaving or getting your son could have been a very misdirected way to communicate to you that they like you both and want your son to stay with them.

I would personally lean toward not having any more playdates with those children becoz they do sound like they are waaaay out of control, and the mother is super passive.

The other thing you could do, since you mention that you can't see your friend without the children, is just be way more assertive next time. "Oh no, please don't corner him," and physically remove your son. "No, no! You need to let go of my arms! It's not okay to try to keep me from dc."

You could let them know that you would like to visit them and have your son play with them, since this seems to be something they very obviously want badly, but that there are certain rules that must be followed. I would explain why, explain that your son is young, he will be scared if you can't reach him. Tell them he is young and you want him to learn to mind you, so you need their help. It's not helpful for big boys to teach a baby not to mind their mama. Enlist their help, remind them of their responsibility as older boys.

If they don't behave acceptably, you and ds leave. They may need to test that one out and have you leave to learn that lesson. And then you can try again another time and see if their behaviour is improved.

On being physically restrained: I have a hard time believing that you couldn't get free of the boy unless you hurt him. Is that true? Or is it more that you didn't want to be rude, didn't want to offend the mama, or that you were shocked at the behaviour and not quite sure what to do?

If the kids are so over the top that you really can't redirect their behaviour enough to make them acceptable playmates for your ds, I would end these playdates asap. But if you feel like being more assertive would help, I would try that first.
 

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One thing with spirited kids is that they get "reved-up". If you can avoid them getting reved-up, great, but if you miss the early signs and they get like that (not that it can always be stopped anyway), no amount of discipline or talking is going to help. People sometimes think I'm permissive when I know it is useless (actually makes things worse) to try to discipline. Of course I stay close, make sure kids are being safe and am ready to haul ds away to calm down but I let a lot of the smaller stuff go (like I might not try to keep ds from throwing at all just keep him from throwing at people).

Not being their parent, you have to be prepared to leave if things are getting crazy. Don't expect reved up kids to stop when told because they really can't turn it off. My ds generally needed to leave a situation to calm down.

So the next question is are you friend's kids always like this (at home without company)? Maybe getting together at a different environment, like a playground, would work better. Maybe if your ds wasn't the only kid around some of their focus would be on the others. It might make departures easier, too, if you can all manage to leave at the same time.

One more thought, don't expect to be able to talk with your friend much if you get together. Save catching up for phone conversations so you can focus on the kids if you get together again.
 

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Holy comoly ... I would have freaked out, too! That is not normal behaviour - none of it was - from the talking back to the cake. I wouldn't let the kids play together anymore because your son will automatically model his behaviour after theirs. I know this is a good friend, but you can keep your get-togethers as moms night out or when ds spends time with daddy.

OK, so I feel compelled to tell you about what's happening here. My ds is 3.5 yrs and is very energetic and gets wound up when he's around other energetic kids. My friend has 2 introverted kids, 3.5 and 6.5, an 11 yr old diagnosed with ADHD, who sounds a lot like your friend's children. She yells constantly at her kids. Well, mostly the ADHD one. As soon as he comes over, he opens the gate and runs upstairs, he jumps over the Superyard XT surrounding the elliptical and starts pedaling away, he throws balls and toys in the house, and is generally rude, rough, and talks back (even to me, in my own house). Last time they came over (unexpectedly), we kept the boys outside in the cul-de-sac, and the 11yr old was running onto people's yards, climbing their trees, stepping on their flowers, and screaming at the top of his lungs. The mom just stood in one place and yelled constantly at him - it was hard to have a conversation with her. She'd yell: STOP that! He'd reply (while still doing it): WHYYYYYYYYYYY? Then she'd say: Because I'm your mother and I said so! Then he'd do whatever ONE MORE TIME and then stop. She never approached him, she never spoke to him with respect, she just stood and screamed at him. And I know that she's overwhelmed as well - she can't handle him. He needs some major disciplining and she has no tools.

All this is to say that I know exactly how you feel. You feel torn between your friend, her kids and your child. My ds gets so wound up when the 11yr old is around, and I feel like we take strides BACKWARDS in ds's growth when they're around. I just don't want him to play with the 11yr old at all - EVER - and I've tried to limit it as much as possible.
 

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I am NOT any kind of expert here, but I'm concerned about your friend. Given her family history and extreme passivity, I wonder if she's depressed or something?

Given my concerns, I would look for ways to spend time with your friend while still keeping your baby safe. Do her kids go to school? Maybe you could meet her during the school day?

If it were me up in their bedroom while they were trying to make my baby climb a ladder over my protests, I would have said something like "this play is too rough for us, we're going to go back downstairs". And I would have taken my kid back downstairs where my friend was. For the most part, if I'm the only adult present and there's something dangerous going on, I feel authorized to act. But my kids are older and I've probably dealt with older kids more than you have-- I can totally understand being essentially speechless.

ZM
 

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Wow.

No, that's not "normal" behaviour. Yes, kids are going to be excited and kids are going to have less control over themselves when they are excited. But by that age they should have some idea of proper social behaviour.

My son has ADHD and he can get really excited. BUT we've worked really really hard to get him to understand that he can control himself and we help him be successful at it. We see the signs and we take a very hands-on approach with him to help him calm down.

As for the incident of the boy restraining you, and you not being able to break free without fear that you would hurt him...maybe you should have done what was necessary to get free as well as contact his mother. You said your ds was climbing a flight of stairs and this child was preventing you from getting to him? For me, my mother-bear instinct would have taken over and I would have made him let go. Odds are, if you had really fought back he would have let you go, but as long as you "allowed" him to restrain you, he was not going to let you go.

I think you need to keep your child away from these children and I think you need to be honest with their mom as to why. And offer her some referrals for help. Tell her you were uncomfortable with the way the children acted and you are concerned for her. You say her husband is not a lot of support? Then she needs to seek support for her and her kids somewhere else (by that I mean counselling).

Not to cast too scary a prediction on this...but these kids and their mom sound just like a neighbour of mine growing up. This is exactly how her son acted in a lot of situations. He's 15 now...and I don't think you want to know how many times he has been brought home by the cops in the past year.
 
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