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My son is 9. He goes to a neighborhood park where he runs into an older kid (11) every now and then. Let's call this kid J. J is an extremely outgoing kid, who almost lives in the park. He has been caught using abusive language several times, and comes from a lower middle class family (only mentioning that to provide context for some questions that might arise from reading the next paragraph). He has been carrying a cell phone with him since he was 9.

Of late, he has been looking for excuses to tell my son, that his parents (my husband and I) are spoiling him. For instance, when my son discusses a new toy with his other friends, J butts in and says that my son is being spoilt. My son retaliated, by asking how being given a toy is worse than being given a cell phone, to which the boy said, it was not just the toy, but all the other expensive things my son owns. Upon probing, we figured that J was referring to the play structure and trampoline we have at our home. My son was caught off guard and did not know what to say. Also, when my son retaliated with the point about the phone, J's friend supported J by telling my son, that J's parents can give him whatever he wants. My son is younger than both the boys by 2 years, so he couldn't tell the other kid, that the point about parents buying whatever they wanted applies to everyone, but the other kid conveniently chose to not bring it up when his friend J made that remark. Also, this friend of J butts in all the time, even though my son has never rubbed him the wrong way. Today when it happened again, my son told him to mind his own business, to which J stepped in and said that it was not a private property, so anyone could say anything.

J also has anger management issues and threatens kids that he might just lose it! I am looking for ideas on what my son can say the next time, his parents are unnecessarily brought into a discussion, and also when J threatens him saying things like if he loses it, he will see that my son doesn't come out of it alive.

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  • Have you considered just ignoring this kid's comments? Just do as he didn't exist... – Laurent S. Feb 25 at 12:42
  • Yes, but that provokes J to up his rude remarks. He says things like “I bet you are hearing but just pretending to not”. Also he says this to another kid , so it makes my son feel ganged up. I thought J will get bored of doing this eventually, but with him, there is just no end in sight – MomOfTwo Feb 25 at 16:48
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    I'd try ignoring him and keep ignoring him. Sounds like this kid just wants attention. He's going to try a few escalation tactics to try and get that attention or a reaction from you / your child. Once he realizes he can't get what he wants from you he'll probably go away. (And just to be on the safe side, stay close so you can intervene if this kid gets violent. Call the cops at that point.) – Becuzz Feb 25 at 17:49
  • So, what's the question? – Jack M. Feb 26 at 17:55
  • I am looking for ideas on what my son can say the next time, his parents are unnecessarily brought into a discussion, and also when J threatens him saying things like if he loses it, he will see that my son doesn't come out of it alive. – MomOfTwo Feb 26 at 19:46
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It sounds like J is jealous. Fundamentally, there's nothing you can do about that. Teaching your son how to respond is unlikely to go over well if J responds to it as a personal attack against him. Your son should just ignore him (after politely saying "I don't want to talk about this").

when J threatens him saying things like if he loses it, he will see that my son doesn't come out of it alive.

If he is actually threatening to kill your son, then this is a more serious matter. Do you live in a neighborhood where violence among children is not uncommon, or is it clearly an angry kid trying to say anything to make someone else upset? If there's even a hint that he might be genuinely violent, then you need to keep your son away from him. Going to the police should be a last resort, but if you suspect that J is a credible threat to your son's safety, you should take that seriously.

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I'd say that JJ is jealous, which I can understand. It's very difficult to not be able to get stuff like a trampoline when some 9yr old does! Jealousy is a very complex emotion, I can understand they're not reacting properly too it (not saying JJ's right, just saying I understand, he's a kid why needs to still learn this).

I personally try to go with the "if you have wealth, don't build a bigger fence, but a longer table" where I find reasonable. From that perspective:

Calmy go up to JJ and explain that you do not really like the way he keeps calling your son spoiled, that you (as parent) just 'got lucky'*, Son hasn't got anything to do with it and that JJ's reaction to it isn't very friendly.
I'd directly follow up with a "if you ask Son nicely, maybe you can join us on the trampoline, I'll make sure there is some lemonade".

I said directly because this situation often gets a little defence very quickly, which often gets followed by snarks1 which escalats the situation more. Not letting room for that and showing good intent is a good first step to show you're on the same side.

* I'm using luck here, not because litterly luck per se, but from a 'lucky I got a good set of brains' or 'lucky my parents allowed to to get to this point in live' perspective

1 I dont know a better worng for this, feel free to edit. I mean grumpy, passive agressive, offence as defence

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