Other people's children

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  1. Sigh... at the risk of starting WWIII (which I do not want to do), I was wondering what the etiquette is with "disciplining" (and I mean that in the lightest, loosest possible way) other people's children, both friends' and strangers'?

    Here are two scenarios that have happened to me in the last few months that might help illustrate my question. In each situation, I did nothing, because the children belonged to someone else (I have no children) and I was unsure of what to do!

    1) We recently bought and moved into a new house. The little girl from next door (aged 12) is obviously accustomed to coming around to see the previous owner's children. I am friendly with her - hellos, little chats, a high five here or there LOL. The thing is, she comes into our gated garden whenever she wants. Now, I am uncomfortable with this for many reasons, foremost because I just don't like people being in or around my house when I'm not there. The other reasons are: 1) we have a dog who, while tame and gentle, is not used to children and has never experienced a household with children in it; 2) she often climbs the fence and will stay for 1hour+, climbing things, playing with the dog etc.; and 3) she has a scar under her eye from a dog down the road, who bit her on the face after she snuck into its garden while its owners weren't home. This last one makes me reeeaaaalllly nervous, as I prefer that kids and dogs, no matter how well-behaved, are always supervised by an adult.

    I have asked her twice to not come around when we are not there, but we have busted her twice already in our garden after we've come home from the shops.

    2) the second scenario involves my friends' baby. He's now almost two years old. When they come around, dad likes to sit down with a beer and not move, while mum will walk around with the baby. Just like all curious babies, he touches and plays with everything he sees. Now this doesn't bother me generally, but the last two times they were at my house, he ripped up quite a few pot plants on our front verandah, opened our ashtray (just a glass jar which we keep under the patio) and tipped cigarette butts all over the lawn and also found a big stick, which he banged against the side of the house repeatedly. It has left a rather large, dark and deep mark on the white wall.

    Now, my question is: where in this situation can I intervene? Should I at all? Or is the etiquette that you just cannot tell off somebody else's child? If I can intervene, how do I do so without offending the parents??!! or is this something I should just be dealing with?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated - from mums and non-mums alike!
  2. OMG - sorry this is so long - I tried to give the edited version!
  3. With regard to the first scenario,You don't really want to offend your neighbours (as they live next door) so i would suggest that you talk to them about not letting their daughter come over when your not at home, and tell them that you are worried for the safety of their daughter. (white lie) Tell them that the dog is very nervous and likely to bite her and you are scared for her safety. You could also gently suggest that although you like their daughter coming over it would perhaps be better if she came over at certain times / days etc when you are in. perhaps their not aware of what she is doing.
    Maybeput the dog in the house when you go out, if that's her source of amusement take it away, hopefully she'll get bored!

    With regard to the second problem, tricky one. (i had a friend who didn't supervise her hyperactive children last time they came over and he broke an expensive lamp, she didn't even acknowledge the incident. Needless to say she hasn't had an invite since)
    I persoannlly would hate anyone to tell off my child when i'm there ( but i do watch what there doing) If the parents are failing to watch them, i would think it's ok to ask the child not to do something.

    Stick banging - you could say to the child " please don't do that xxxx as i'm worried that the stick might snap and hurt you. Why don't you do xxx instead.

    - Plant pulling - tell the parents that you have fertilizer on the soil and are scared that if xxx were to get it on their hands and put it in their mouth they may get sick!

    - Cigarette butts, show them the jar and tell the parents that xxx was about to put in in their mouth!

    Parents can be really sensitive about their children so i would suggest a gentle approach.

    Also you don't say if you have children, i find that's it can really difficult to take children to non-children houses as there is often nothing for them to do.

    Perhaps you could get some amusements for visiting children to play with, colouring books, crayons, bubble blowing, football. A money box with coins is a great toy for a child that age, they love to put coins in the slot over and over again. Garage sales are a great place to find cheap toys. As a last resort a dvd might help.
    Hopefully these distractions will stop the child 'playing' with your things!

    As for the beer drinking dad, your poor friend, it must be like this at home!

    Anyway good luck!!!!!
  4. LOL, thanks shopaholicmum - I love that your advice is so gentle and positive - little, non-offensive white lies are definitely something I can handle.

    Like you with your expensive lamp, the stick-banging-cigarette-spreading-pot-plant incidents got no acknowledgement from mum. I don't know if I'm more upset that the child did it, or that mum (the grown up!) didn't say anything to either her child or me!

    Re: the girl next door, I spoke to SO about it and he reckons that her mum and dad know about it, but are ambivalent either way. I know that before Christmas, she knocked on the door to see what we were doing because "mum is painting the bedrooms and told me to stay outside." On Halloween, she was sent out trick or treating in knee-high boots, a black negligee, green paint on her face and her pet rat on her shoulder ALONE. Alone! To knock on people's doors! Perhaps I am too old fashioned LOL

    Anyway, I take heart from your suggestions. And perhaps you're right - telling a child off is perhaps a bit too strong; maybe the best way to do it is to ask them to stop. I just feel like it's my house and there are certain rules, just like there are rules about behaviour in libraries, restaurants, movie theatres etc... I will try this out the next time it happens (if it happens LOL)

    THANK YOU!!!
  5. I would suggest talking to your neighbor girl's parents and letting them know what is going on. Maybe when you are home and ok with her going into the gated area, open the gate so she'll know it's ok. Or would your dog be able to get out? Maybe put a lock on the gate and unlock it when neighbor girl can come in. She does need to learn to respect other people's private property. Hopefully if you talked to her parents, they would realize that and talk to her about it.

    As far as the 2 year old. I would feel uncomfortable scolding him. The only thing I could suggest for that is to pick up as much stuff as possible when you know they are coming over. Two year olds are very curious and will grab anything they can reach.
  6. Definately talk to the neighbor girls parents. Make sure to mention what you said before about how you know that she is used to being able to come over to your house whenever she wants because that is what she did when the previous owners lived there. I think she just needs to relearn a different habit because she is a little too used to this one.

    The two year old problem. That is a tough one because I know when my DS was two I missed out on a lot of adult interaction because I would follow him around to make sure he didn't do any of that kind of thing. Most two year olds don't want to sit quietly, they want to explore and experiment. Unfortunately, unless watched like a hawk, their "experiments" often times can take the form that he has already done before. With this situation I would recommend that you take the stick away and tell the child "At our house we aren't allowed to hit the house", or "At our house we aren't allowed to pull up plants". But expect to either have to watch the kid constantly, or you won't be able to invite the parents over. Unfortunately, this is just the nature of some two year olds.
  7. I think both issues need to be addressed with the parents. That's where the problem is. I don't think your neighbors would mind you letting them know she's getting out and into your yard. If it were me I would WANT to know. As for your friend I've never understood this. Do parents think it's ok when their child terrorizes someone else's home and doesn't clean it up? When they come over I would keep a better eye on them and just intervene if you see something happening. I think that is totally fine...it is YOUR home.
  8. :tup:
  9. For the neighbor I think the sitaution needs to be addressed with her parents. You dont want to run into any problems if she gets hurt on your property, even if she wasnt supposed to be there.

    For the toddler, if the parents arent going to step in I say it's ok for you to do so. If they don't catch on I wouldnt invite them over anymore.
  10. ^^^ yup yup and yup
  11. Talk to the 12 yr old one more time and tell her she has to abide by your rules of not coming around unless you are home. If she does it again, a nice email/ call to her parents is in order. Tell them it's a safety issue more than anything. I am sure they will actually appreciate it. I am a mom to 3 kids and I know I would want to know if my daughter was doing this.

    As for the baby - touchy subject there. I never know if I should discipline other's kids when the parents are right there. Not sure what I would do.
  12. I agree with the above.

    With the 12-yr-old, telling the parents that you're afraid the dog may bite their daughter and talking to her again, is a great idea. I also think the idea of putting a latch or lock on the gate is a great one. Nothing fancy, but just a sliding latch on the inside could do the trick. We fenced our front yard when our neighbors wouldn't keep their dogs home or pick up when they pooped in our yard, and it's saved our relationship with them.

    With the toddler, I do feel bad for the mom; it sounds like she probably has to do most of the work and is worn out. I think the best thing to do is to intervene when the action is going on if the mom doesn't step in. If the child goes to playgroups or anything like that, believe me, other moms take things away from the kid or tell him not to do things. I love shopaholicmum's suggestion that you frame it in terms of concern for the child, even if it entails little white lies; it's hard to argue with "I don't want your child to get hurt/sick/poisoned."

    If you try to have a general discussion with the mom about keeping her child out of stuff, I think that's more likely to cause hurt feelings, but handling the individual incidents should be OK and may serve to let mom know she needs to intervene a little more.
  13. Where are her parents. I mean thank god you are good people. But what if a crazy man had moved in. I could never allow a kid of mine to walk into people's yard. You should talk to the parents that you do not feel right that she is there with your dog. What I think is weird that after her other accident neither her or her parents have stepped in. She is twelve, they should have a closer eye on her.
  14. Your post is almost exactly what my best friend said to me and after talking to her, I must admit I feel quite slighted by the two-year-old's parents for not doing anything at the time. I guess I actually felt quite shocked and upset at the time, but my issue is that I just can't seem to say something to a two-year-old that belongs to someone else. As my bestie said though - if it's going to bother me for weeks afterward, I should try and say something at the time or get over it. Doesn't have to be rude, just let the child know that what they're doing is not ok at my house.
  15. Great advice, thank you. Reading this kinda made me feel better as well, as it reinforces what I said in my previous post - I suppose to a two-year-old, an adult is an adult who will tell you what to do or what not to do - we're all about the same from their point of view!