5 Tips to Help Handle the Neighborhood Kids
I recently moved into a neighborhood where the kids roam free. It’s great for my son, he already has kids knocking at our door to play! This is an exciting first for us. However, the parents are never to be found. No rules are being enforced. No boundaries are set. They roam around waiting for someone to entertain them.
Well, since I’m a nice person (and the paranoid mother) the task of monitoring the neighborhood kids has fallen to me. I’ve battled with the balance of disciplining when boundaries need to be set, but also, I’m not their mom, I shouldn’t be disciplining these kids.
To be completely honest, I am a homebody. I don’t have any desire or need to go outside…especially to “play”. Not me. Not now, not ever. Even as a kid, I never played with friends or neighbors. However, my two-year-old son is very different. He is very adventurous like his dad, which creates a very new (and intimidating) situation for me.
I’ve talked to my older sisters and some friends and received these great tips for handling neighborhood kids!
1. Set Boundaries
All kids need boundaries. Doesn’t matter if they are your’s or a neighbor’s. By setting your own boundaries, you can remain in control of what you and your family can handle. There is no need for you to feel uncomfortable with a situation. You are an adult and can tactfully remain in control.
Three of our neighborhood kids are brothers. They come over every day to ask if my son can play. They are very, very touchy – they give lots of hugs, hold my son, etc. My husband and I were not comfortable with that. We were very bold with the kids and just said, “No more hugging”. We don’t want to cross the boundary of personal space.
2. It’s Okay to Say No
One tip I received the most was that it is okay to say no. This goes for play time, snacks, boundaries, etc. You can politely let the neighborhood kids know that “it’s family time”, or “no snacks now, dinner will be soon.”
The first few times we hung out with some of the neighborhood kids, I gave them all snacks. I wanted to be the cool mom. I wanted them to like my son and to feel comfortable around us. However, as you would imagine, now every time they come over, they want snacks. I have implemented this “it’s okay to say no” tactic when I feel it is needed. I still share, but I also set boundaries by saying “not now” or “not this time”.
3. Share… Ya, just like you tell your two-year-old, you have to share, too
This goes for toys, food, time, and attention. Golden Rule… treat these neighborhood kids like you would want their parents to treat your kid. How sad would you feel if you found that your son went to a neighbor’s and stood by and watched while the child of the home sat and ate a snack. Oh, it breaks my heart. It’s okay to share your stuff, including your attention.
4. Set Expectations
This is helpful for the kids (your’s and neighborhood kids) but also, for you. Yes, I am a homebody, but I can spend 20 minutes outside if I know it will only be 20 minutes. When neighborhood kids come knocking, set the expectation upfront.
I have learned to tell the neighborhood kids as soon as we agree to play, how long we are planning on playing. That way they know that dinner is coming in 20 minutes, or that we are going to get ready for nap time in 10 minutes. It has helped smooth the “goodbye” process a little more.
5. Show Compassion
Remember that these kids are, well, kids. Show compassion towards them. If they are outside all the time, have you thought, possibly it’s because they can’t or don’t want to be inside in their environment? Have you heard the saying, ”Don’t judge until you walk a mile in their shoes”?
As I am getting to know our neighborhood kids, I’ve been asking them questions. Each time I am around them I learn another piece of their story. I’ve put together a small (not complete) story so far. Recently I just learned that one had a dad pass away. They were visiting their father’s grave tonight.
Show compassion towards the neighborhood kids. There might be a little extra love you can give them. (I highly recommend reading “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog” by Bruce Perry. It helped me gain empathy for misbehaving children.)
I won’t lie, it annoys me when they ring the doorbell three times before I have 2 seconds to run to the door and answer while trying to keep my two babies napping. However, I try to remember that they are kids and as the saying goes, ” It takes a village to raise a child.” You are an important part of that village.
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This post was written by Britni Ponce exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC