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Neighbor kids not allowed to play with my son.

AlltheLegos profile image

Yesterday, a pair of neighbor siblings told my son they “hate him” and “aren’t allowed to play with him anymore.” I’ve reached out to the mother via text to ask if there’s anything she would like to talk about but haven’t heard back yet. One of the kids said to my husband during a different interaction that my son is often hitting kids during play, so perhaps that’s the reason.

My son is definitely rough, but from his point of view it’s done out of play, not anger or frustration. Still, the other kids have a right to not be hit and we’ve talked with him at length about keeping his hands to himself.

So, now what? This could be seen as a natural consequence, and/or a chance to accept that in life not everyone is going to like us. But how can we help him keep his hands to himself? And what happens when all the neighbor kids are playing together; should my son be excluded or the child whose mother doesn’t want him to play with mine?

15 Replies

First, I want to say I’m sorry. I know how much it hurts your heart when another mom stops her children from playing with yours. I’ve been through that with my eight year old. His first grade friend group told him they weren’t allowed to play with him anymore. He came home from school crying. I called all the moms to ask what was wrong. Only one called me back. Apparently, they all talked and said he was a bad influence and they didn’t want him to play with their boys. I was shocked and hurt. My son didn’t understand. We eventually changed schools because we moved but he still asks why he can’t have those boys over for play dates. I wish I had a magical answer. My son does play more ruff and is definitely more hyper (even on medication). He also misses the “social cues”. In school they offer a social skills class that he is enrolled in. I would highly recommend asking your school about this type of class. Also, I’m unsure how old your son is but have you looked into a 504 for school?

Thank you for your response. My son is also 8, and definitely seems to miss certain social cues. I’ve tried talking to him about things to look for that indicate whether another child is having fun or just resisting rough play.

I homeschool him so we don’t have issues or help with school. This problem is happening in our neighborhood. I’m really afraid that it could develop into what you mentioned about multiple moms talking and barring their kids from playing. I’m especially worried because our neighbors are all from India and all knew each other before moving into these townhomes. They’ve all been super friendly and welcoming to us as the “cultural outsider” so to speak, but it still worries me.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to AlltheLegos

Ah. Yes, that can be a downside to homeschooling. There is less opportunity for supervised play with other children. In school, they have to learn to follow rules. Other kids can quickly/easily report bad behavior and have it dealt with on the spot. It's also helpful that the correction not come from a parent, but different adults all following the same basic rules of what is acceptable. That makes it easier for all the kids to learn and respect a common ruleset. At home there is less chances of that happening and baggage/risks about trying to correct behavior. Another adult is likely to be the parent of another child there. They may not be comfortable trying to correct your son and there would also be the likely perception of bias. So your son may feel they are just playing favorites rather than justly enforcing social norms.

I suggest you seek out supervised after school activities for your son to participate in. Ideally ones run by professionals (rather than a parent volunteer run activity, like sports, open to all). I know in my area there were places that catered to working with kids with behavioral challenges. We signed my son up for some of them when he was about the same age (8). It would be even better if some of the neighborhood kids were also in them, so he could learn to play with them in a more respectful manner.

As for the other mother... Yes, I think teaching/showing how this is a natural consequence is beneficial. Not only as a teachable moment now, but also as something to refer back to in the future. "Remember what happened with Johnny? We want to do our best to avoid that happening with this friend." In fact, it might be a good idea to halt any unsupervised play with kids in the neighborhood until you are able to make more progress on getting him to play less rough with other kids. Sometimes once a door is shut, it can't be opened again. So before any more bridges are burned, taking a break and working on these issues might be the best long term strategy.

The question that needs to be asked of course... Are you taking other steps to help him with his ADHD symptoms? Medication, counseling, etc...

AlltheLegos profile image
AlltheLegos in reply to BTV65

Please don't take this personally, but I'm going to have to disagree with the homeschool statement. I get hit by a lot of homeschool myths, so it's a topic I like to address when I can. Just by reading the rest of the thread, you can see that many children have had the exact same social problems at school. Sometimes, the teacher is even part of the problem (as in my own brother's case). Plus, kids are lucky if they get 20-30 minutes of true social time at school, and the poor ADHD kids are often losing recess so they don't even always get that. As a homeschooled child, I see to it that my son gets way more socialization time than any public school child could.

I do however appreciate the good intentions behind your comment, and appreciate the time and effort you put into your advice.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to AlltheLegos

Not offended here. I have nothing but respect for parents who can succeed at homeschooling. My daughter wanted to be homeschooled one year, which I agreed to do and I think of it as an unmitigated failure (in my mind). I honestly don't know how people do it.

ADHD kids in school? Their are a *LOT* of them. Most are not pulled out of class, nor do the lose recess over it. My son certainly didn't. Some are in that situation though. Like any other advice, take what you can use and discard the rest. I'm glad you took the time to post here as well as the time to read the responses. I hope things can work out for you and your son.

Thanks for sharing your situation. For me when this type of things happened it was a wake up call that I listened to by starting therapy. I am not sure if you have provided him with any tools, but this is the type of thing I would bring up in a session and discuss and the psychologist would find out details and then provide strategies to help my son. In addition, I would role play the situation and get him to chime in about it. Like stand there and show him what it is like to be playing with friends and then start hitting and act rough and see what his reaction is. I really don't think our children truly understand how their behavior impacts others. They need to be shown. Good luck

We are going true the same thing, when we go to the park some kids do not want to play with him because his very touchy. He is a big 6 yr old so it really hurts and some times could be dangerous

My 6yo son doesn't have any friends because his kindergarten class made him the outcast. Now that hes in first grade we are asking him to take time to himself at recess (his problem area) because he just got in trouble for yelling at another student. I got him a 504 plan at school and his teacher is great this year.. but it's a sad reality that other parents and children don't understand these kids and it seems like they all become an outcast. It's heartbreaking. It's lonely and sad. I wish I had answers but I keep thinking "maybe when hes older he will be a better friend".. but I feel for him dearly. This is hard stuff.. but you're not alone

The social challenges for kids with ADHD are probably some of the most heartbreaking things to witness as a parent. Our kids can not take the perspective of others and you can talk until you are blue in the face about why other kids would not want to be hit, but often our kids know what to do, but don’t do what they know.

My son is 15 now, but when he was that age, I would monitor play outside with the neighbor kids by just going outside and finding things to do like clean my car or garden. This way, I didn’t look like I was supervising, but could step in if need be or cut the time short so it didn’t get out of hand. I also sometimes made up games and participated or joined them in a game they were playing to supervise and because it was novel to them to have an adult participate, all the kids enjoyed it. I also took my kid to a lot of playgrounds so he could play with others who didn’t have a preconceived notion of him. He often did very well there. I read a lot of books about social skills and did a lot of the techniques with my son.

Others have mentioned it, but help with social skills from a professional like a psychologist or a speech therapist could be very helpful. He needs tools to help him and sometimes an outside voice to learn from beside the family is helpful.

Thank you for your support and ideas. I think being outside more often when the kids are outside is a good idea.

We haven't gone down the route of any kind of therapist because our son has become VERY anti doctors. In addition to his ADHD, he has some kind of undiagnosed seizure condition. Because it's yet undiagnosed, he's had every test under the sun done (many more than once), and he's just had it with doctors. Even a trip for the yearly check up is met with all kinds of attitude. I know that talking to a therapist could possibly be helpful for the health stuff, as well as the social skills, but I'm nervous to tack on another doctor...

Aloysia profile image
Aloysia in reply to AlltheLegos

I don't know if this will help or not, but we call counselors/therapists/etc. "talking doctors". People who will only talk to you and never do any poking/proding/medical tests. Maybe explaining that will make a difference.

Also providing a reward that is agreed upon beforehand can be helpful when you get a total refusal. Say that this is important and you get that he doesn't want to do it. Ask why he doesn't want to go, validate his concerns (or explain why xyz won't happen with a talking doctor), explain why it's important (how it will help him), then ask if a reward would help him get through this since it's clearly difficult for him. Then ask what reward he thinks would help - offer something small like ice cream, screen time, or time with you to play a game if he doesn't have ideas at first.

Best of luck!!

Thank you everyone for your help and advice. I wanted to give an update, in case anyone was wondering.

The mom did respond and said her issue was the hitting. I validated her concern and let her know that it's definitely something he needs to work on. However, I suggested that we work on the behaviors rather than outlawing friendships, since it would only lead to divisions in the neighborhood. Her children had already experienced that, since two children refused to play with hers that day because they wanted to play with mine. I gave her permission to send my son home as a consequence any time he got physical. I think for now, we're at an agreement, so fingers crossed this works. (I may have also pointed out how her own son had physically hurt mine on a number of occasions, because she claimed her son would never do such a thing, lol. The momma bear came out a bit, but I kept it very polite!)

I just read through your question and thread and glad to hear you came to some sort of understanding with the other mom. I find that I am constantly on edge about my kids social behavior and worry if they will offend or be impulsive and rude. I know many parents have already put my kids in that box of thinking they are "that kid" that makes their kid behave badly. Meanwhile, all kids behave badly once in a while and it's about the kids learning to communicate better with each other, regulate high emotions, and conflict resolve which I think takes a lot longer for kids with ADHD. Sometimes I wonder if I just disclosed off the bat that my kids have ADHD if I would have more empathy from other parents.

I don’t have suggestions beyond what you got here already, but I wanted you to know you’re not alone. Our son is 11 and does not have any friends. In preschool for a while he would have friends but since then parents or kids just avoid him. He is slightly rough, hyper and more and more just off from what the mood and activities of the other kids will be. It’s frustrating as a mom because to me boys social life is pretty simple. He isn’t a kid who gets into really bad, violent or rebellious behavior yet he always finds a way to get in trouble in front of parents in a way that makes them lose our number (an example is we let him go to the school bus stop two blocks from home by himself and he would purposely kick off his shoe into the road and dash in front of cars and buses to get it, laughing the whole time. The other parents sent someone to talk to us after a couple of days of this) . No kid his age in our neighborhood will give him the time of day now. I am getting really nervous as middle school and high school is here that as this total loner kids may start to pick on him. This is a tough part of raising kids with ADHD and my heart reaches out to you all.

This post and the many thoughtful replies have brought up all sorts of memories for me. My son is 15 now, but boy some of these situations are familiar. Nothing was the magic bullet for me, but here are a few things that we did that seemed to make small improvements over time: 1) Lots of rough house playing with me and my husband. Pillow fights, who can remove each others' socks while crab walking, sword battle with a pool noodle, nerf gun fights, dodgeball, wrestling, monster games. All WAY out of my comfort zone but giving him an outlet where he could play with that, and have immediate boundaries set by us when it got too wild. I think it helped him be calmer with friends, and to know the game will end if he can't listen to someone else asking for limits. There is a book about this, including some of the psychology behind it, called The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It

Book by Anthony T. DeBenedet

2) All play was supervised by me, even if at another's house or outdoors for a lot longer than other kids needed supervision. Especially if it was a new playmate, or a parent I thought wouldn't be comfortable setting the boundaries for my child when required.

3) My child was also a sensory seeker so had lots of craving for physical interaction. We did lots of play to meet that need like swinging, squishing him with an exercise ball, piling pillows on him, even lying on the pillows (moderating the weight of course). There are lots of sensory ideas out on the web to help keep that need satisfied so it doesn't come by grabbing friends too roughly.

Anyway -- you've gotten tons of ideas, and have worked out much of it already. Hang in there. 😀

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