Handling Conflicts With Neighbor Kids

How can we stop our son, age six, from fighting with the boy next door? The neighbor kid gets mad if our son won't play with him. If he does agree to play, the neighbor and his friends often reject him and drive him away. This boy has been extremely aggressive towards my son, pushing him off the bus, hitting him with a plastic bat, and then lying about it. To make matters worse, when the fighting starts, the kid's father blames my child! We're trying to keep our kids out of their yard, but the troublemaker isn't staying away from ours. Any suggestions?

No question about it – you’re up against a real dilemma. You can choose your friends, but in most cases you can’t choose your neighbors. You want to get along with these folks, but their child’s behavior is negatively impacting your son, and you need to nip it in the bud. Your first step should be to address the situation on the adult level. We’d suggest that you and your spouse call the neighbor boy’s parents and tell them you’d like to sit down over coffee and talk about the conflict between your two boys.

If they are willing to do this, approach the conversation with gentleness and respect. Explain that there have been some recent incidents involving their son and yours that you are concerned about. Don’t make accusations. Simply share your version of the story as you understand it. Then ask them for their perspective.

If they respond defensively and refuse to take any responsibility for their son’s behavior, politely but firmly tell them that you don’t want their son coming over to your house anymore. You can also let them know that if their son behaves aggressively towards your child on the bus or at school, you will report the incident to the school authorities.

If you decide to take this action, you’ll need to talk with your son and make sure he’s on board with the program. Let him know that you don’t want him playing with the neighbor boy anymore. Explain that some kids behave nicely, and some kids don’t. Tell him that you think it would be better for him to spend time with some of his other friends. Help him to understand that God wants us to treat everyone with kindness and respect, and that he should continue to be nice to the neighbor boy whenever he sees him in the neighborhood or at school. But make it clear that if the boy is mean to him in any way, you want him to let you know right away.

If you’d like to talk this over at greater length with a member of our staff, feel free to call our Counseling department for a free consultation. They’d be pleased to assist you in any way they can.


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