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Modern Manners Monday – Another Child is Asking for My Kid’s Stuff

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Dear DMM: We have several children that come over to our house on a regular basis at varying times. One little boy visits every couple of weeks or so. While the kids play, the mother and I chat. I like the mother and I like the child.Everyone gets along well.

My children have a lot of toys and we have a large playroom that everyone can play in. We are very fortunate that we have several indulgent grandparents so there are not many things in the toy department that my children want for. This makes my house a favorite for my kid's friends which is fine with us.

However lately, this child has been asking my children for their toys. To keep them. My children are really polite and so each time they are asked, they say “Ok.” They have never really been in this situation before.

This child continues to do it and often times, in front of his mother who does nothing. I know that this family does not have a lot of money but these toys belong to my children and if they are going to give something away, it really needs to go through me first.I am just at a loss about what to do.

A couple of days ago at the last playdate, this child actually took two toys that he asked my son for and started heading to the door with them as it was time to leave. I actually took the toys back and said, “Sorry he didn't ask his mom before giving the toys away.” The mother said nothing. AGAIN.

She has already emailed me for the next playdate. I think that both she and the child are being rude. What do I do?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Give Advice on our previous Modern Manners Monday posts:

Thank You Notes – Yes or No?

Being Left Out

Unruly Kid

Kids & Swag or Giveaways – When is it Enough?

Dealing with a Negative Child

Dealing with a Tattletale

Shopping with Children

Table Manners & Restaurant Etiquette

Is it only a Quarter? Beware of Bad Manners

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27 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. LW

    Thanks for sharing it with us.May you have a nice day!

  2. Stephanie Hirsch

    That’s a tough one…I would slowly start not doing anymore play dates, but that is not exactly the way to resolve the issue. Maybe tell your kids that they cannot give away their toys anymore. You could try telling the mom, the next time you go through the toys (to get rid of, etc) that you can keep her in mind, as a person to give them to, but for now, the toys need to stay at your house, since they are your children. Eventually your kids will be looking for a favorite toy, and realize that they don’t have it anymore. I don’t think that is fair. I also don’t think that is fair of the Mom to not say anything. I agree, it is rude. Good luck!!

  3. I think I’d make some type of mention about the toys staying at your house when greeting him at the door as he arrives to play. I can’t figure out why the mom doesn’t say anything.

  4. After knowing she saw the last interaction I MIGHT give them one more chance. And if he did it again and she did nothing, that’d be the end for me. I have no patience for that sort of stuff. I’d also be sure I was talking to my kids about not saying kids could have their stuff.

    • Stacie

      Good point. I think that if she talks to her kids, that might help a lot. And yes, if it kept happening, I would stop the playdates too.

      I love that the kids are generous but the mom should not let the child accept the toys.

  5. I’m not sure how old these kids are, but if she can, she should definitely talk to her kids and let them know that they just can’t give their toys away. She can tell them that the toys were gifts and that the person who gave the toy to them would be upset if they just gave it away. Or, she could always set aside some time every few months for the kids to go through the toys they no longer want and pick one or two to give to the friends who are less fortunate than they are.

    The main problem here is that the other mother is watching these exchanges and not saying anything about it. I would never let my kids take a toy from another kid’s house, unless, of course, the kid’s mother offered it to them. That mother is just being rude and needs to teach her kids that you can’t just take stuff from someone’s house like that.

    Great post, and great question!

  6. Dorthe

    I think I’d give them a last chance and on that playdate, I’d talk to the mom. If it happens again and the mom doesn’t do anything about it, it’s done.

  7. Ahhh things like this give me agita! I personally would probably try to put the playdate off at least for a little while. That way you can figure out how to nicely put that she and her son are rude. *LOL*

    Do you really consider this mom or her child as good friends? I know you said you like them, but some friendships are worth dissolving if there is a greater issue. Just a thought! Sorry you have to deal with this….does she read your blog?? *LOL*

  8. I agree with the commenters and I can’t believe the other mom doesn’t say anything! How awkward! If it happens again, I would just say you are welcome to play with these toys while you are here, but they need to stay at this house or something. Good luck!

  9. I guess I’m just a really assertive person because if I heard another kid ask for my kid’s toys, I would say directly to the other kid: “Don’t you have your own toys at home? These are Kadin’s toys… you need to play with your own toys or you can share Kadin’s toys while you’re here.” I have no idea why so many moms are afraid to speak up…

  10. lace wigs

    Thanks for your great post.

  11. Eileen

    I also agree about having a conversation about this. I mean, it should not be too hard if both moms are meeting together with kids they SHOULD be able to talk about it. Kids and friends do connect parents too, so we have to be willing able and ready to communicate.
    I’d say playdates have some rules established right away. I also had a problem with others taking special toys out to play with, and we decided to put certain things away so another child would not possibly break it and put a strain on friendship. That may sound selfish but to explain that the doll is very special to a child and very breakable is hard to do in front of someone, so we put it away BEFORE this happens. Maybe you might put away some of the toys during playdates so a little one who is not so lucky to have a lot of things does not get overwhelmed, sad, or even jealous? I do think the mom is rude not to speak up…I would be SO embarrassed if my child did this. The very thought that she didnt react sends a red flag here…the child is learning from her cues perhaps?
    Good luck with this one…it’s a stick situation but have to lay down the line I’d say!

  12. I would just let the mom know before the next playdate that the children are not allowed to give away their toys without permission. Period. If she’s aware of the problem and not sure what to do, a dialogue has been opened. If she has a problem with it being brought up or with the restriction… then more problems would surely follow. Best to nip it in the bud now.

  13. I d ask the Mom to come but remember to bring the toys back that they “borrowed”

  14. I would personally set a rule in the house for all for all of my child’s guest that come over and play. I would say in front of both the parent and the child that none of the toys may leave your home. Simply as that.

    If the child keeps asking for toys to take home. I would talk to the parent with out the child and saying that you don’t like that their child comes over and ask for toys when they leave.

  15. Kathryn

    It is possible that the mom does not know how to handle the situation either. Maybe she feels guilty that her son keeps asking, but she doesn’t know what to say or do in the situation. It’s easy to say, “She should say something” but much harder if you are in the situation.

    That said, I would take a two prong approach to the situation. First, have a conversation with your kids. Tell them that they do not have permission to give away anything in the house. Then practice with them. Pretend to be a friend and ask for a toy. Let them practice saying “No”. They need this skill, because I am fairly certain that they will run into more kids who ask.

    Second, I would speak with the little boy’s mom, privately, before the next play date. Tell her, gently, that there is a situation you wish to address. Tell her how her son’s question makes your kids feel awkward, and ask her to speak to her son about it. She may or may not want to have a discussion with you about it – that’s okay. You need to let her save face a bit. But don’t necessarily write off a good friendship in the name of being right.

    Good luck,
    Kathryn

  16. We also have an excessive amount of toys and educational items, so I set up a “lending library”.
    Everything is set up by theme so that people can borrow our items by theme and then, can return them by theme. I have a checklist, a disclaimer regarding potential choking hazards to younger brothers, sisters, or pets, the whole nine yards.
    In order to check things out from the lending library, people have to be willing to share what they have to the lending library, regardless of how meager their personal collection of items is, because this way, it is a two way street.
    We have only been burned once since starting this lending library nearly two years ago. A family borrowed a bin, took crappy care of it, I had to ask for it back on many occasions, and then, when we finally got it back, items were broken, in disarray, and missing. That was that so I asked that they replace the broken items and made it clear that they are no longer welcome to be a part of the lending library, nor do our families have play dates together. I am still cordial when I see them, but the line was drawn and that is that.
    Would strongly encourage you to consider setting up a lending library. It teaches your children lifelong lessons about philanthropy, makes it more of a formal borrowing process, and makes it so that even someone who has less can feel that they are contributors rather than just takers.
    It will make the anger / annoyance of having this family think that it is okay to just take and keep things go away too…
    This family that has been in the role of taking might be quite used to this role if they have very little and are used to hand outs. That is why both the child and the mother have no qualms about asking for toys…the child asks your child directly, and the mom of this kid is actually asking by not speaking up and saying a thing…
    Setting up a lending library teaches every child and adult in the scenario to be both respectful and responsible.
    If you go to my blog, you can do a search and lending library should pop up…
    sorting and storing by theme works fabulously too, as it keeps things a little less cluttery in the playroom. We keep our lending library items in the garage. They are in huge storage bins, labeled, with plastic lids. The disclaimer is written in permanent pen inside each lid.
    The checklist / inventory sheet is in there as well.
    My boys basically rotate their toys in and out from the lending library into our playroom.
    I do not allow collectibles that cannot be easily replaced or very sentimental items to go out as part of the lending library.
    Well, hope that this is helpful!
    This problem can end up being a lifelong lesson to your children, if you turn it around and make it into a lending library versus a begging for toys annoyance.
    Have a great week and hope that you will pop by my blog to say hello!
    I am also on Twitter. I follow you as F5th (Fab Fresh Fun with Friends & Family)
    Colleen:)

  17. Irene

    I don’t see the problem in telling the guest child and mother that the toys are not for giving away. Why all the pussyfooting? I mean, seriously, who goes to someone else’s house and expects to leave with their property? A simple, “No you cannot take that home with you, but you are welcome to play with it anytime you are here, ” in a voice that also includes the other parent should suffice.

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