"What should I do when my friend wants to bring her wild kids over for a playdate? I am constantly telling them, “NO…” or “Stop…” My 2 year old hides behind my leg or sits on my lap when they come flying into my house. I really like my friend and feel sorry for her. She seems to always be overwhelmed and tells me that I am the only one she can turn to. Even my friend’s mother recently asked her not to come by until she teachers her kids to behave; as they ruined her bedding set by taking permanent markers and coloring all over it."
- BFF in West Hempstead
You are in a tough situation! I understand that you want to be there for your friend, but it sounds like she is bringing the chaos with her. Your friend needs to set-up some boundaries with her children. And you need to set-up some boundaries with your friend and her children.
Your friend’s mother has set up her own boundaries by establishing that she has certain expectations when they are over for a visit (such as not destroying their grandmother’s things.)
It is completely rational to expect that you, your home and most importantly your own child be held in high regard by people you choose to have around. Gently explain to your friend that you have house rules that need to be followed. Make these the same rules you have for yourself and your child; then list them. Explain to the other mom and all the children (your child included) that there will be three warnings (reminders) of these rules and if they are still unable to follow the rules then the playdate will have to end abruptly. If your friend is really your friend she will understand that you need to put you and your child’s comfort (happiness) first. As they are leaving, welcome them back another day and explain that at the next playdate they will have another chance to practice your house rules.
Try not to get angry (or worst; to back down) and if you see your friend getting upset, reassure her that you wish for them to come back soon when everyone can better manage themselves.
Really, in all of this, I feel that your friend and her children are secondary to you and your child. By stating these boundaries, you will be establishing a stronger bond with your child. By helping to make your child feel safe and secure, you are sending her the message, “I care about your feelings, I will help protect you from others and you too should feel comfortable setting expectations for people in your life.” You are setting an example, being a model for how your child can handle and protect herself now and in the future.
(Editor's Note: The opinions in this article are those of Parents "R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)