Parenting K-6 Kids/the kid's ages lol


QUESTION: hello Dr. Mabel J. Swaby,
I have two children and my eldest is now in S-K and just starting to get into the social circle for the first time, likely because we moved and there are now children live around the corner from us just her age. All my life I've known that I wanted to be the parent who HOSTED the play-dates after school. I wanted my house to be the go-to house from the beginning so that once my kids are in high school I get a better shot at keeping close to their world. It's strategic planning! (lol)  But...

Now that we're here and the social has begun it's not going how I'd planned.  The two kids that my daughter has befriended (or, rather, less befriended as they're the only game nearby) are horrible children to watch.  They're aggressive and rough and totally run wild at my house. Yet when they're at the other parent's homes they're much more well behaved. The girl who is the roughest has a mother who is literally a helicopter parent - the kids are not allowed to play without her playing as well - and she's told me she thinks her child is a shy, quiet door-mat. She has no idea her kid is the ring leader and I'm not about to point it out to her. So when they're at her home they're the most mellow.  When at the other child's home they're there with absolutely zero supervision except for her dad, who is intimidating as heck, so although they get a little rowdy it seems none of them want to push the boundaries. (I know this because I've visited with him while they played on numerous occasions.) But at my house they go bananas, and I have to admit I'm not a parent who has many tools to deal with other people's kids very well.  I think it's partly because my own two kids are very well behaved and I rarely have to use methods of discipline. My overall parenting has been an approach more since birth. I make the rules and I have clear consequences and since day one they've been enforced. By about two years old both my kids just knew how to act and since then I haven't needed to step up very often - I'm not used to this bad behaviour in my home.  The second reason they run circles around me is that I'm unsure both WHAT I'm allowed to do as far as disciplining other people's kid's bad behaviour in my house, and because I am a bit on the strict side I really don't want to screw up my kid's chances of developing these friendships if I try to put the breaks on behaviour that would otherwise be considered "normal" kid behaviour. I don't know what "normal" is. I only know what I think is appropriate and it may not be the norm.  I have a zero violence policy in my house. I'm willing to relax a bit for the sake of some friendly wrestling or rough-housing as my kid gets in with other kids who do not have this rule, but it seems to me that the behaviour I am seeing is above and beyond what I remember from my own childhood, even.  There's running with sticks that they point in each-others faces, pushing so hard they fall off beds or into doorknobs or walls, grabbing by the collar of the neck so hard they pull the person to the ground - someone always ends up crying.  and it's non-stop! I have to cook dinner so I can only be there about 50% of the time, and my approach is more to fold laundry outside the kids' play area and keep an eye on them. When it gets rough I go in and tell them to stop or take away the sharp sticks, but the two girls who aren't my own don't really stop.  They sort of just stop that immediate game but don't switch gears and start another game very similar and five minutes later I need to go in and tell them to stop again. I try not to be too-involved but when my daughter is crying because I just saw one of the other two grab her by the arm and swing her face first into a wall it's hard not to intervene!  So what I do instead so just let the other parents be the hosts. But this isn't want I wanted!
   If it was my own two girls up to that stuff I'd march in, tell them the play is too rough and dangerous, tell them I want to see no more pushing, pulling, shoving, hitting, kicking or swinging objects in people's face and that if they can't play a nice mellow game like doctor or store they'll be separated until dinner if they can't play nice.  If I had my way with these girls I'd threaten to take them home. But I'm afraid to follow through because the mom of the kid who she thinks is an angel will feel bad if she finds out the truth,  and if I make it too boring for the kids they just won't come back and it'll be all my fault! Like I say with my own kids I know what to do ad it works, but with other people's not only do I not know how far to go or what I'm allowed to do but I am afraid of upsetting the other parent's if I get tough with the rules.  My house is a no-violence zone. Not a no rough-housing zone but a no VIOLENCE zone. I want it to stay that way. But if that's just how kids have to play then I see no choice but to stop hosting. Help give me the tools I need to deal with kids so very unlike my own two kids.  One even pretended to bite me in the face once!  It actually frightened me. I swear I'm not that inept with my own two girls, but if this passes as normal for other people's kids I really have no idea where my boundaries are with them.

Thank you for writing. I need to know what age we are talking about. What is S-K I live in the USA and I do not know what S-k means. I will answer once I get the age of the girls that you are talking about. I read your letter and you sound like a wonderful mom.
Thank you
Dr. Swaby

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi, sorry about the age mix up.  Two of the girls are 5 and one is 6.  My youngest plays, too if they're at my house, and she's 3.  "S-K" around here stands for Senior Kindergarten, because the kids start school at age 4 in "Junior Kindergarten", lol.  The 6 year old is in grade 1, but she isn't who I call the "ring leader". Thanks!

Dear Teg,

Thank you for your quick response. We have pre-k here in the USA which starts at 4 years old and then Kindergarten which starts at 5 years old. I thought you were talking about teenagers:)

You should be able to redirect these young children. You are taller than they are:) you might want to call a "meeting/get-together/team meeting" (which ever one makes you comfortable)

Tell the children "We" will discuss  the word cooperation, see if they know what it means. Then define if for them."Cooperation-when two or more people working together for a common goal" In this case having fun and playing together. Then tell them, now, we must have some rules that we all must agree upon.

Let them tell you several good rules that they know that will help them to have fun. "Hint":)we already have two rules and we need two more. (Four is plenty) You can write them down for you to refer too later.If they break one you can gently remind them of that rule.

You can guide them in discussing "NO HITTING" ever. we do not hit each other no matter what. No rough playing someone might get hurt and your mommy and I would be very upset, because we love you and do not want to see you hurt.

Ask the girls: Who can think of something we can do/play that is not too rough and does not involve hitting? (Let them answer) Note:(If they If they can behave at the other homes you know they can behave at your home) "Set boundaries and they will fall into line. They will always do what you allow them to do. Don't yell or loose control. once you get involved and have something planned for them, you will see the change.
Mom, Good news:) You should have some activities prepared for the girls when they come to your home. Play games, get puzzles, coloring books get play dough and make things.a good movie with popcorn.(you can go on line and find some other fun things for them to do.

You treat company(the girls) the same way you treat your own children. The same rules you have for your girls are the same rules you use for their company.

Teg,think about when you have company they obey your house rules or the will never be invited over again right?:) well, you already knew what to do, because you are great mom. You just needed a little assistance.
I hope this was helpful. Feel free to write again.

Dr. Swaby

Parenting K-6 Kids

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Dr. Mabel J. Swaby


I can answer questions about Pre-K 5th grade. How to listen and talk to your child.Discipline that makes sense and much, how to understand your childs behavior and more. I am able to answer questions about teens,as well I have worked sucessfully with teens in foster care and a teen center, I have a great understanding of teens behavior.


I am retired teacher.(2005)and administrator. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate(CASA) with the Juvenile Court for the past 6 years. Working with children and teens in foster care. I am a S.T.E.P.( Systematic Training For Effective Parenting) Parent Educator, and I am preparing to conduct workshops in my community.

Masters in Early Childhood Education/Certification in instructional Leadership Court Appointed Special Advocate(CASA) (Volunteer) S.T.E.P Parent Educator/Leader-(Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) Parent-Aide Oasis Counseling Center

Awards and Honors
Teacher of the Year Judical Commendation Award from the Juvenile Court

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