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Edit - May 30, 2014

Details on this question can be found below, but here is a summary of my questions:

  1. How do I approach the parents of these children?
    1. What should I say to the parents?
    2. Do I work with the parents to set rules for their kids? (I've never had to do that with other parents.)
  2. Should I let kids play with my daughter who seem less interested in her and more in her toys?
  3. How can I make it clear to these children that they are not to play at our house (ex: in the back yard) while we aren't home?
  4. How can I keep the number of children within a manageable level? I know I don't feel comfortable about having 7 kids over.

Original Post

We have recently started having some strange neighbor kids come over to our house and start playing in the back yard and I'm not sure how to deal with it.

One day we found 2 of these kids that we don't know or recognize playing in the back yard with our daughter and her friend. We didn't say anything, but just thought it was weird. Then there were five, then there were 7. This all happened in two days (literally overnight). We've tried to discourage so many coming over and it has helped, but now these neighbor kids are starting to play with our kids outside toys when we aren't even home. I also found out that these kids have taken toys from other homes. They are all pretty young (probably 9 years old and younger) so I'm sure it isn't malicious, but I'm definitely not comfortable with it. We don't have a garage, so we cant lock things up.

We don't know the parents, but I think I know where they live. They are of Hispanic origin, but I don't know if this is a cultural thing.

Does anyone have experience with this? Insights from Hispanics are especially welcome.

Thank you in advance.

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How does your daughter feel about the situation? Are you uncomfortable with them coming at all, or just when you're not there? –  Thomas Taylor May 29 at 6:32
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Also, I think that the question probably neess some editing to be Parents.SE-appropriate. Right now it's sort of discission, rather than fact oriented. –  Thomas Taylor May 29 at 6:41
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@James, to make your question more specific (to get better and more useful answers!), could you add what your main concern or main objective is? Your kids' safety? Your property being stolen? Establishing contact with the parents, and agreeing on some rules? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 29 at 21:23
    
@ThomasTaylor, they seem like good kids, but I feel like they are less there for my daughter then they are the toys. My daughter loves having them around. I worry that they might get hurt on our property or that they will damage something on our property. –  James May 30 at 14:42
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How about some fences and locks? –  Dariusz Jun 4 at 16:31

1 Answer 1

There is always the hazard that these kids are coming over for the toys rather than friends, but this shouldn't be a concern in itself. If your kids enjoy the company and these kids behave then it can be very positive to have a bunch of children all playing together.

I would agree that you need to set ground rules though- any guests should have to get permission from you first, you should get to know their parents and agree how you handle issues, accidents or discipline requirements.

As we have a very big garden we often find over twenty kids in it during the summer. My rules include simple safety ones such as no more than two people on the trampoline at once, agreed return times with parents, everyone either leaves at dinner time or eats with my kids etc. to try and make it more about the social aspect and less about random strangers abusing hospitality.

Although on SE we want a single question per post (otherwise you can end up with multiple questions all answering a single part correctly) I'll have a stab at your full list:

  • How do I approach the parents of these children?

Tell the kids they can't come over unless you meet their parents first. Ideally accompany them to their house, or get the parent to come over to drop their child off.

  • What should I say to the parents?

Let them know your house rules, and ask them if the kids have any special requirements you should know about.

  • Do I work with the parents to set rules for their kids?

Nope - your house, your rules. If they don't like it they can keep their kids away.

  • Should I let kids play with my daughter who seem less interested in her and more in her toys?

If they cheer your daughter up and don't abuse the privilege, yes.

  • How can I make it clear to these children that they are not to play at our house (ex: in the back yard) while we aren't home?

Just tell them. Ban them from coming if they misbehave. This is actually pretty simple.

  • How can I keep the number of children within a manageable level? I know I don't feel comfortable about having 7 kids over.

Again - just tell them. Your rules, so you can say, "Enough" and send them home whenever you want.

And my final rule is that I always get the biggest water cannon... very important, this one!

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This is a good answer, but it doesn't answer all of the questions. If you answer each question then I'll mark it as accepted. –  James Jun 6 at 15:58

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