How To Handle Conflict Between Children in Your Neighborhood

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We’re dealing with neighborhood drama today.  If you have kids and you live in a neighborhood, I’m sure you’ve had your own stressful dramas play out from time to time as well.

The kids usually get into some little kid spat about some insignificant thing and the next thing you know, the adults are arguing too.  It amazes me, but it does happen. How should you handle conflicts about children? 

It’s All about Relationships

I’ve found that it’s best to actually cultivate a friendly relationship with the neighborhood parents. This will go a long way towards minimizing conflict.  I also let parents know that should they have a problem with my children or should their children have a problem, that they can come to me and that we’ll work to solve the issues.

Remain Neutral and Insist On Accountability

Your first instinct as a parent is to protect your child at all costs.  It’s best to remain neutral, at least in front of the other parent who accuses your child of some misdeed.  Perhaps it actually might be true!  Once a parent came to me and told me that my daughter had said mean things to her child. 

Since my child has brain damage and her words slur, her speech can be hard to understand. Because of this, I wasn’t too convinced that the accusations were true.  Nevertheless, I told the mother that I wanted to talk with both kids.

We sat the two children down and it turned out that my child had used an insult in the conversation. No, it wasn’t the insult the other child claimed, but it was an insult.  I made my child apologize.  During the discussion, we also discovered that her child had thrown rocks at my child which started the incident.  She in turn made her child apologize. 

 We talked to them both about how name calling and rock throwing is wrong and set some punishment for their bad behavior.  They were both going to be held accountable for their actions, which meant no TV time for a day. 

After the other child and her parent left, I discussed some things with my child.  When others treat you badly, it’s best to tell them to stop and remove yourself from that situation.  Hurling insults back only escalates things.

Sometimes, it is best to not even approach the subject with the other set of parents if it’s a minor issue.  You will have your own opinion of what constitutes minor and you’ll know when to take a stand.  If you have doubts, it’s best to run the idea past a neutral party. 

Choose Your Friends Wisely

This is such an important concept for all children to learn! Most children want to be nice to everyone.  Most adults are the same way too!  We all want people to like us, don’t we?

Sadly, some people are just not friendly and they love to create drama and conflict.  They are aggressive and bully people.  I have found that with many children like this, their parents are not interested in addressing their negative behavior at all.  It is best I’ve found, to advise your children to avoid other children and teens like this.

In the beginning of this post, I mentioned our neighborhood drama. I came home to find a note left on my door from my neighbor. The note accused my children of stealing their cat which apparently was lost. I had seen the cat because it had been wandering the neighborhood for weeks and we had fed the cat several times because we thought it was a stray.  Feeding a cat you believe is a stray and stealing someone’s cat are two very different things though. I also knew that there certainly was no strange cat in my house! No one in this house had stolen their cat.

I looked for the cat just to make sure, and then called my neighbor, who insisted that my children had indeed stolen their cat.  Furthermore, he insisted  that my children had told his son that they had his cat. The situation escalated to the point where the police were called.  Incredible, isn’t it?

I let the police search my house for the cat which my children had not stolen.  It turns out that our cat looks like the cat in question, and that they made an incorrect assumption.  I tried to diplomatically point this out to them before they called the police, but they were not willing to listen to logic or reason.

This is not the first time that our children have had issues with their children.  Sadly, none of the issues have been resolved and the conflicts continue to escalate.  

Set Boundaries

Part of parenting is helping your children to deal with all kinds of situations and people–especially the difficult ones.  This means telling them that it is not always possible to solve conflicts with everyone.

When someone continuously abuses you or creates conflict with you, sometimes you have no choice but to walk away from the relationship. In our case, I’ve told my children that it would be best if they no longer play with their “friend” because the friendship certainly isn’t worth the drama and conflict. They continue to insist that their friend really didn’t mean to accuse them and that it really wasn’t his fault.  I will continue to gently but firmly insist that they respect the boundary I have set.

Today was painful, but I believe that we’ve all learned an important lesson in our house.  We may not be able to solve conflict, but we certainly don’t have to be a willing participant in that conflict.  We can’t choose our neighbors, but we can deal diplomatically with them when conflicts arise.  When diplomatic talks fail to make any progress, we can stay on our side of the fence and limit our contact.  Sometimes, that is the best that you can do.


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Mom2b says:

I commend all parents that have to deal with difficult children in their neighborhood and their even more disturbed parents. Since I have had a child, I have had to inform my daughter she avoid certain children in the neighborhood at all costs. Many of these children play in the streets at all hours of the day & night with no parental supervision, use foul language, have no manners or respect for adults and are bully’s but their parents think it’s funny!!! I say exactly what you say – avoid, avoid, avoid. Eventually these kids will get into serious trouble and their parents are the one to appear before a judge in a courtroom. The parents who teach their kids to avoid the bad children will not wind up in the same bad situation… The good parents must stay calm and just wait it out – spmething will eventually happen…

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