How to Handle It if You Do Not Want Your Kid Playing With a Neighbor
When your child seems content to hang around with a neighborhood child that you don't like, just hearing the doorbell can set your teeth on edge. Before you shoo away a potential playmate, remember that your child probably enjoys spending time with his neighborhood friend. If you think the friend is a bad influence on your child or you don't like his personality, address the problem delicately to avoid hurt feelings.
Set limits for play time that allow the kids to play together -- within reason, child psychologist Matthew Goldfine suggests to Oprah.com. For instance, you could create a rule in which a neighbor child isn't allowed to come over uninvited or set specific hours for play so your child can get homework done or spend time with the family without his playmate dropping by. Setting rules puts you in the driver's seat -- you might have an annoying neighbor kid around, but you get to choose when he comes over and when he leaves.
Keep your child busy so you have a reason to decline a potential play date. When you're headed to soccer practice, craft club or some other activity, you can tell the neighbor kid "no" without feeling as though you're telling a lie. What's more, it gives your child time to associate with other friends outside of your neighborhood to form new relationships 1.
Ask that your child and the neighbor play at your home if you believe the neighbor is a poor influence on your child. The U.S. Department of Education notes that it's important to get to know your child's friends. Invite him over and watch while they play to see why your child gravitates toward him. Having play time in your home also means less boredom and less getting into trouble while you get to know your child's neighborhood friend.
Say no. It's OK to politely decline when the neighborhood child drops by to play. You don't even need to give an excuse -- "I'm sorry, Andrew can't play today" is polite, firm and decisive to avoid hurt feelings. If it's truly a bad time or you lack the energy to deal with another child around the house, just say no.
Choose your battles wisely. While you might not like a neighborhood kid, your child probably doesn't mind hanging out. In fact, he might love spending time with someone who lives so close. If you cut off the friendship altogether, you could hurt your child's feelings, so only seek to end the friendship if you feel as though it's dangerous or detrimental to your child in some way. Otherwise, limiting their play dates should be enough to keep your annoyance at bay while allowing your child to select his own friends.
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