Author Topic: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge  (Read 1582 times)

Freedom2016

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Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« on: June 16, 2017, 09:34:11 AM »
We have a 5 year old son and 2.5 yo daughter. Our next door neighbor has two girls, 5 and 2. Since we moved in, a year ago, we have lots of impromptu play dates, we host each other for dinner, in general we're both grateful to have 'built-in' playmates so close by. There are not a lot of other young kids on our street.

We've realized, however, that their older daughter is a bit of a handful. Constantly testing boundaries around language; hits/pushes her sister a lot; screams for no particular reason. I think her parents have taken her to a counselor at least a few times.

Yesterday the kids were playing together and I heard the older DD say "I'm stupid" and "I hate myself!" (she's 5!) I later saw her grab her little sister's dolly, making the younger cry. I watched their mom intervene; she said, "well, is it okay for [younger] to have a doll?" to which the older obviously screamed NO. It's not how I would have handled the situation, for sure. But who knows, I could be missing something - maybe the counselor has suggested they try this approach. I've certainly seen the parents put her in time out for bad language, so maybe they're trying to back off from an authoritarian approach?

So I'm not one to butt in on their parenting choices, but I *am* left wondering what I can and should do with respect to my own interactions with the older DD, and with how I handle whatever influence she has on my own kids. For example, it's entirely possible this child says I hate myself/I'm stupid just for attention. In which case, perhaps I ignore it. But I worry that my own kids may pick up on this language or behavior at some point. Are there conversations I might have with my own kids (now, or when they're older) that will help put her behavior in perspective?

I would welcome any suggestions or experience. These kids are likely to be in our lives for years to come so I'd like to find some constructive ways of handling the impact the older one might have on my own kids. Thanks!

Poundwise

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2017, 10:48:41 AM »
Neighbor kids are a toughie!

Some things to establish...
(1) Is neighbor girl unusually disturbed?
My opinion is no.
- Saying dramatic things like "I hate myself" are not IME unusual for kids in that age group.
- Ditto tantrums
- Ditto pointless sibling hostility

 It sounds to me that the little girl may simply have a high-intensity, high-drama personality.

(2) Will it get worse?
- Don't know, of course. But my intense oldest son (now 13) who used to have a tantrum every day after kindergarten has improved yearly. I've been impressed at his growing ability to handle conflict and strong emotions. It took a lot of struggle to get where we are today, and I am a little scared of what will happen when puberty hits... but most people would look at him and see a calm, well-adjusted teen.

(3) Will it be a bad example for your daughter? How to prevent this?
- Possibly.  Kids will  pick up bad behaviors annoyingly quickly, but I think you can point out that "Mary said that, but it isn't a good thing to say. If you're angry with yourself, you can say this instead..."
- If the child is at your house, your rules apply.  If she is out of line, she goes home. Also you can try to give her alternative expressions for her feelings as well.
- Also point out to your children that your rules apply to them at other people's homes, too. Let the neighbors know what your rules are and ask for help enforcing.
- My kids have a number of friends whose behavior isn't great. I've discussed what I don't like with my kids; though they don't always agree (for instance, I've told my son that I don't like how a certain friend frequently puts him down, but my son thinks he's a good friend) at least they get it.

(4) Will the girl bully your daughter?
- Hopefully not. You'll have to keep an eye on her at home, and ask your older son to do so at the neighbor's house. Nip any nasty behavior in the bud.

(5) What if you decide you don't want to keep up the relationship with the kids, without getting your neighbors upset?
- Unfortunately, this probably involves putting your kids in camp, after school activities, or similar that take your kids out of the home at the time that they usually play with the neighbors.  Once everyone is out of the habit of running back and forth from house to house, it will be okay to drop the activities.
- Expose your children to better behaved friends. They will make their own choices on whom they want to spend time with... even a young child will learn to avoid friends with constant drama. Your son especially may gravitate to other boys soon (though it's generally good to have friends of the opposite sex)


Freedom2016

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 11:24:50 AM »
Thank you! I appreciate hearing your experience and ideas. My own kids can be pills too, of course, so I'm trying to be careful in not overreacting - some of it is just kids' different temperaments mixing with different parenting styles. But I guess we'll see how things unfold over time. :)

Laura33

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 06:58:28 PM »
Honestly, I wouldn't take it too seriously, at least yet.  Address it in the moment like you would any other child misbehavior -- calmly, with good humor and perspective and redirection and all those great parenting skills.  And when it doesn't work, well, remember the phrase "if you can't be a good example, at least be a horrible warning"?  You might have found a good one for your kids.  ;-)

In all seriousness, though, your kids will have to deal with a wide variety of people, and this is good, if uncomfortable, practice.  So the more you can help them learn to navigate this, the better off they will be in the long run.  But do protect your kids from being bullied, if it comes to that.  And for the girl's sake, try to get to know her better to get a sense of whether she is just dramatic or actually troubled.
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TabbyCat

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 09:28:48 PM »
I think in many ways kids (and people of any age really) are who they are going to be, and parents and others in their lives just help support and provide a positive example and teach good coping skills and behaviors. She's working though some things, which is normal, and you can keep it positive and be a good example for her as I'm sure her parent's work to do as well. You are that for your own kids too.

There will always be others in your kids social circle who are working through something, are self destructive in ways, or negative or violent - you can't isolate them from that. You can help teach them about how to deal with that and stay positive. I think just the fact that you're thinking about it and how to help both the neighbor and your kids shows that you're doing ok with providing mindful support to everyone involved.

SwordGuy

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 10:47:10 PM »
I've found that giving kids another roadmap for getting what they want can help.   If they realize there's another way to reach their goal that's more likely to work, the brighter ones (or at least the less stubborn ones) may give it a try. 

Freedom2016

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2017, 06:30:46 AM »
Thanks for the wisdom and perspective, everybody.

Her parents are concerned about her behavior... her dad last night half-joked that maybe she's bipolar; I guess the mood swings are terribly extreme. She was very sweet to our DS when one of his toys broke last night, and then moments later was calling her little sister stupid , naughty, and a "dumb-a". I do get that a lot of this is normal kid stuff - and that I can't/shouldn't protect my kids from it - but I appreciate having new ways to approach the situation and keep it in perspective.

On a different, but related note, there is a kindergartner who is getting bullied on one of the school buses - his mom pleaded on the local parents' FB group last week for help from parents with older kids on that bus (apparently it wasn't getting handled fast/well enough by the school). It struck a note of fear in me, as I can imagine that my rainbows/hearts/dress-loving son could easily be a target next year when he starts kindergarten.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2017, 09:14:52 AM »
At age 5 does the child have any real understanding of what they are saying? or have they figured out what they are saying gets them attention/an entertaining reaction?   Kids repeat stuff, and the parents may never figure out where they heard this from.

Heck, when they are 18 and tell you they hate you, do they know what it means?


Laura33

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2017, 11:02:41 AM »
Thanks for the wisdom and perspective, everybody.

Her parents are concerned about her behavior... her dad last night half-joked that maybe she's bipolar; I guess the mood swings are terribly extreme. She was very sweet to our DS when one of his toys broke last night, and then moments later was calling her little sister stupid , naughty, and a "dumb-a". I do get that a lot of this is normal kid stuff - and that I can't/shouldn't protect my kids from it - but I appreciate having new ways to approach the situation and keep it in perspective.

Read "Your Spirited Child" and see if that rings any bells.  It saved me with my DD, who it sounds like had some very similar behaviors.  If that sounds familiar, the most important thing is to keep your cool, and not overreact -- when kids are flying out of control, they need their grown-ups to be a solid tether, because it scares them more than anything else.  I found "1-2-3 Magic" worked best with my DD.
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gaja

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Re: Neighbor's DD is...a challenge
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2017, 11:27:28 AM »
When my kids were that age, we lived in a neighbourhood with loads of kids the same age. The kids ran freely between all the houses, any given day we would make dinner for 0-8 kids. We had good dialogue with all the parents, but we still had to very early get all the kids to understand "my house, my rules", and "my kids, my rules". As long as we were consequent within our own house, it was not a big issue to get the kids to adapt. To make it easier for ourselves, we limited the number of laws, and spelled them out very clearly. We were known as some of the stricter parents in the neighbourhood, but based on how many visitors we had at any given time, it was not a problem.

Can you ask the parents directly about what their rules are, and how this kid should be "handled"?
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