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Sorry, T. I'm going to tell you to talk to his parents. BUT, here's a thing - can you not email them? That way you can list out your concerns and do it in a non-attacking way, clearly. That may mean they get less defensive. Thoughts?

Oh, and you can totally tell A&K&M that they're not to play with him.

Good luck X

Invite John for ice-cream. Smack the fear into him. Send him home, deny everything. Who are they gonna believe? There's a rebellious 8yr old and a suburban mother living on an estate with a mommy wagon.

Ugh . . . yeah. Big red flags. I would talk to the parents. Agreed that email might be easier. But these parents need a wake-up call.

And trust your gut on keeping your kids away from him.

Sorry, but yes talk to the parents face to face and I agree with trust your gut. Keep K&A&M away from him. Red Flags and alarms.

The parents won't believe you but I would write them a letter and let them know what has happened and what has been said and how you as a parent feel about it all. Do you have a community policeman (not sure how it works in SA these days) If so I would let him know, so that its documented. Not trying to be funny but all the weirdo's in the world started off as children.

Oh T, that makes me so sad... I have always been the parent to "that" child. Granted, my child was not quite as scary as John, but my child was the one other kids were told they shouldn't play with.
Usually, with a child like that, where there's smoke there's fire. You risk the wrath of Hades if you do talk to his parents- and in all likelihood they know there are issues- but they need to know that other people see it too and they need to do something. And you've already seen that talking to the child has no effect.
I had to ask my family and my son's teachers - on more than one occasion - please to tell me if my son did something so that I could deal with it. So often they wouldn't tell me because they didn't want to play "policeman", but not telling me meant I only found things out when it reached disaster level!
I feel so sad for John and I feel sad for you for feeling like you have to do something.

In my limited parenting experience, kids aren't born that way, they're created through something lacking from their own upbringing - whether that be structure, routine, or just plain old discipline. Children who have no eq and who are bad judges in when to do right instead of wrong are products of parents who don't know how to parent or who don't want to parent. Without knowing the parents, you can't judge what type of parents they are and therefore how they will view the problem you find yourself with. You might be met with hostility and/or denial or you might be met with people who will take you seriously. I don't know. I would suggest you talk to all the parties, together, in one room. That way the kid can't tell a pack of lies about you and the parents are also forced into addressing it immediately with their child. You could also then have a little control over the direction of the conversation. I would also suggest you have the meeting in your own home, so that you are in your own environment, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage. Bear in mind aswell, that what you've heard is hearsay, so you can't go in there guns blazing. You definitely need to be diplomatic about it. Good luck!

Wow Tertia! I would talk the parents of the other little boy first - get some back-up, so to speak, and if possible raise their concerns and your own TOGETHER with John's parents.
Although, in my biased opinion, any child with an attitude like that comes from a home that clearly doesn't pay enough attention to their children to start with, so I don't know how far you're going to get.
It may make them uncomfortable enough to move, though, if there are two of you approaching them.
I feel sorry for John - I can't see him coming from a well-balanced, loving home. You don't have a bad attitude and bad language if you haven't been taught it - these things aren't natural to children.

And by my previous comment I do not mean ignore your gut and allow your kidlets to play with John or welcome him into your home. Mom-gut is never wrong.

"John" sounds like a little sociopath / psychopath in the making... scary.. (Or it might just be a v bad phase that he's going through).
Yes, you should have a "meeting" with his parents (some people react very negatively to letters/emails) to discuss the matter, but know that they will probably not react in the way you would want them to... Maybe invite the parents over for drinks & snacks on a Friday evening & then combine the socialising with an informal discussion re kids' behaviour, etc. But tread v carefully.. you don't want to make enemies of them right away.. Also maybe, you'll get some background info into WHY J is such a "funny" child at the moment.. The danger of going this route, is of course that if you're too nice, they would think that you want to start a friendship with them, in which case J will be at your house more often, than now... But if you're too direct/matter-of-fact, they might be offended, not like you very much & then influence J even more negatively towards your family.. Eish.. It's a very difficult situation.. Maybe you should rather just have a casual chat with J's mother first, see what she's like & only then decide on how to handle it further. And yes, discourage any possible friendship between J & your kids. Best of Luck! This is a tough one...

Sorry, but I would definitely suggest talking to the parents (but your 'please say no' suggests you know that, haha). I would also talk to the friend's parents and try and find out if there are other parents /residents that have had run-ins with John or feel uneasy about him (basically get 'back-up' from other adults so that if John's parents don't believe you, which they probably won't, you have allies that can corroborate what you've said). I agree with sending an email, also copy the home owner's association/body corporate. To be honest, he sounds a little like a child I know, and that one also has the red flags coming up! Yes, kids 'talk big', but this is more than just normal kid's talk. Trust your instincts!!!

I would take the option you didn't want us to suggest, namely, talk to his parents. I do not think it would be appropriate for you to talk to him directly, at least without one of his parents present. This sort of behavior is something that they need to know about, and if they already do, they can hopefully tell you whether it means something or if it's just blowing off steam.

Go straight to his parents. Don't wait. If he is running around swearing and acting passively defiant, THEY need to know (and probably adjust their parenting a bit).

Wow, Tertia, I would not take this lightly. This kid's behaviour is not normal. Firstly, the kid obviously comes from a home where there is not much care or (good) discipline so a gentle talk with the parents will probably not be effective. Secondly, there is a jealousy of those that have it good combined with a malicious attention seeking intent in his person that should be addressed without delay, while he is young. If I was in this situation, I would have a talk with the parents only as a tick in the box (as it must be done, don't think you will get much help there though), then follow it up with a letter and mention that if the behaviour continues, it will be brought to the attention of the body corporate and, more importantly, child services. A child threatening to hurt other children (and adults?!) in such a calculating and intentional manner should be helped and the behaviour corrected and I don't think the parents are the best ones to do this. There are enough stories out there of a child hurting and far too often killing another without really understanding what they are doing. That is not a chance I will ever take. Your "safe" environment is not safe and nobody has the right to take that away from you, doesn't matter how common or accepted we have become to it. Maybe I'm too extreme or overreacting but this, to me, is just another form of terrorism. And kids can do even more harm than adults because they don't really realise what they are doing if they are not getting the appropriate guidance and care at home.

Unfortunately it sounds like this child is a sociopath. At the very least I'd make sure my kids are never around him. I would probably e-mail (message, whatever) his parents and let them know what you heard he said. I know I'd want to know if my child said something like that.

I disagree that kids can't be born that way. There are serial killers that grew up in "normal" families. His brain wiring might just be screwed up. His parents may be sympathetic or they may tell you to go ___ off, but at least you let them know.

PLEASE DON'T PLAY ARMCHAIR PSYCHIATRIST. You cannot call a child that young a sociopath or a psychopath. It is just wrong. With that said, I have a son that is a very difficult kid. He's an adult now, but he is still very difficult. As far as I know, he hasn't ever threatened to kill a family, but he has tried to kill himself more than once. We have been close with our local police dept since my kid was 10.

As for John, he has issues, and I'm betting his parents are quite cognizant of his issues. When you live with a kid like that, it is hard to ignore that kind of behavior. I'm also guessing that your local police dept has a youth officer that deals with kids like this. And his school is aware as well. Probably his primary care doctor too. What I would do is to call the local youth officer (you can get his contact info from the schools and the juvinile probation dept.) and ask him to accompany you to speak to the parents. Don't drop by. Make a firm appointment. Go and talk to the parents, tell them what their child has threatened, and that the threat will be logged into a complaint at the police station. Tell them that he is not allowed within 50 meters of your house and if he comes on your property you will get a formal restraining order. Make it very firm, make sure you encourage them to seek help for their son, and that if he in any way bothers you, your family, Rose or your animals you will get the police and the juvenile courts involved.

If they are decent parents they will not allow that kid out of their sight, they will get him help, find a lot of activities after school, anything to keep him on the straight and narrow. I can almost predict that this kid is going to end up in a residential setting at least once before he graduates school. Kids like this only get more troublesome as they hit puberty. I feel for him. He sounds like he's a miserable kid crying out for attention. Maybe this will wake up his parents. Maybe it won't. But at least you have started a legal record for him which you can use if things get more serious. Just be glad that you don't live here where a kid his age could easilt get his hands on a gun.

I have a similar situation with an even younger kid. Unfortunately I am very good friends with his mom (why I am responding here and not on FB), so see a lot of him. The only thing I can attribute his bad behavior, defiance, and lack of respect to is his lack of parental discipline (sometimes just laziness on the parents part, its hard to be a drill sergeant all the time).

Like many of us, she tried for years and spent a fortune trying to have a child, eventually using a surrogate. Maybe this is the reason she is so lax with discipline when he clearly needs it... My twins are 1 year younger than him (2 in school, due to birthdays) and my son idolizes him (very worrying for me). Eventually, by keeping my mouth shot, I reached breaking point and when yet another incident happened that I was sure her son was the ringleader once again, I treated him the way I would my own kids had they been at fault, ie. I sternly questioned him and threatened him (uncomfortably, in front of his mom, who as usual sat there doing nothing). her son started screaming at me and eventually, she left with him. We didn't speak for a week, in the end we met for coffee and hashed it out. I told her I was sorry for overstepping the "parental boundaries" but that her son is often disrespectful and if I don't respond with discipline, to my kids it looks like I am showing him favoritism as they would never get away with speaking to me in that way. She agreed her son was often "sassy"... More than "sassy' in my opinion, but that was a breakthrough.

The take away for you... Be very stern with this boy, show him who is boss, he is just a bully getting away with bad behavior. Every time you witness him doing something dangerous or wrong in the community stick your head out of the car and tell him to stop and that he is endangering himself as well as others or whatever is appropriate. You are much taller than he is, use your size to intimidate him when you talk to him. Make sure he knows you are boss when he is in your presence. If he tells his parents, just let them know he was disrespectful and you can't show him favoritism in front of your kids, you discipline your kids exactly the same way. But I am sure they wouldn't approach you, chances are they are to lazy, and will be grateful someone else is towing the line with their out of control kid.

By the way, it was the best thing that ever happened, standing up the my friend's kid. I feel totally comfortable to (verbally) discipline him in front of my friend when he is at my house and with my kids. And he is much better behaved with me, not perfect by any means, but at least I don't have to put up with it.

I am on the wagon of 'can the armed guards' or whatever 'authority' makes the rules in the estate have a chat with the family?' They can say it was brought to their attention about the threats, and that that kind of thing will not be allowed, the estate is for everyone to feel safe, etc. This hits a little close to home for me....there was just a situation at my daughter's daycare (in podunk, OH!) where a 9 year old boy was completely out of control and hittting, kicking, threatening the teachers and the other kids. The teachers had to restrain him until a parent showed up, and he was not allowed back, but very scary for all involved. The worst part was he went right to another daycare, and probably there will be a major 'incident' before anyone gets that kid some help. I'm hoping you get some resolution to this thorny issue.

Abnormal and unacceptable. It is terrifying that he apparently has a plan. And if he is saying these things, it is also probable that he is bullying people smaller than he is. Talk to his parents over the phone, and file a restraining order if you have to. And talk to the other kids parents so they can decide how they want to handle contact with john as well. Good luck.

Totally unacceptable. Does he go to the same school as your children? In my neighborhood, I would talk to the school psychiatrist (kids at the neighborhood school together) but not sure how that works in SA.

There are certain things you just can't ever ignore, IMO. One is direct threats like this one. (The other is talk about suicide.) You just can't. Talking to his parents might be uncomfortable (ha! *might* be) but you have to do it. Maybe the neighbor (the one who actually heard it) would join you. If they won't listen at all, yeah, I'd let the authorities know.

That is darned scary. I'm sorry you're having to experience it. :(

Talk to the parents first. Getting the authorities involved when it isn't crystal clear that they are necessary could be putting this kid on the road to institutionalization, which will not help him, you, or the community. Maybe there is something going on at home, maybe they never discipline him, maybe he has a disorder. Try to find out if there is a reason for this, and a method to deal with it, as advocated by a health professional. How the parents respond will cue you right quick on how to proceed. If they are being active in a behavioral management plan, they will help you with tools to manage his behavior in the community (it takes a village, and all). If they are blind to the problem, of insist that there is no problem (or worse, that you are the problem) then, you should escalate. Start with the schools, they will know best who to contact to make sure that the kid gets help.

Everyone has good suggestions. Sounds like a good way to help everyone stay more focused on the things that really matter. I think parents appreciate all the help that is available. However I would be careful how I broach the topic to them.

Their family life may lack balance, in which case, your words will fall on deaf ears. For me balance is not so much about not having as many things to do. I like it when I just have the right amount of each thing. Do you know what I mean?

It could be just five minutes a day that I spend reading the newspaper, or ten minutes that I spend exercising but getting that in the day helps to make it balanced. John may lack that balance because his parents never spend time with him or set a bad example for him. Who knows?

Don't ignore your instincts. If you feel worried or afraid, there is a reason. Do the kids attend the same school? If so, it may be a good route to go through to see if that would be a good way of getting this little boy help. If not, I would definitely voice concerns to his parents. Those awkward conversations are just miserable, but it is better than letting it go and have him end of hurting somebody.

Very well said, Margalit.

We are all a little on edge at the moment due to the Boston bombings, but in the cold light of day I cant help thinking that the younger of the two alleged bombers, presently

only 19 years of age, 10 short years ago, was a little chap playing in the back garden. What happened in those 10 years to suddenly turn him into a cold hearted killer? Im guessing if somebody spotted strange behaviour and dealt with it 10 years ago, we may not have had the Boston bombing scenario. I really believe gut feel should be followed.

VERY well said, Margalit!

I would say talk to his parent first. Face to face. Sometimes things come across harsher when written as the body language is not there. They are probably already aware of most of his behaviours and might be able to put your fears to rest, as in they are already addressing them with professional help.

I would still do the same as you are doing with your kids though and not let them play with him.

Discipline him verbally (and sternly) when you witness him acting out, this way your kids learn that his behavior is unacceptable to you. Your kids are watching the way you react and behave to inform their tolerance, reactions and behavior.

Two steps: Talk to the parents of the boy who shared this information with you, and suggest that together you all talk to the parents of the accused child. This is NOT something to let go.

Tertia you MUST speak to "John's" parents and let them know. They probably already know what he's like but not that he is threatening people's safety. You should give them the option to do something about it. If you don't he really might continue this train of thought and do something. This type of behaviour and verbalising it indicates a disturbed child.

He is emotionally disturbed. He is likely sociopathic. It will escalate as he ages. IF his focus continues to be on your family you should move, as he is likely to sexually assault your daughter in adolescence (I'm a psychologist).

If you are reluctant to speak to the parents, then go STRAIGHT to the school. the kid who just shot and killed 26 people in the elementary school in America had fantasies from a very young age about hurting people in this way. I do NOT think you are overreacting, and I am sure that people in that kids life also worried about him and now wish to hell they did something back then. You may be totally wrong, and that's ok - better to be wrong than to be right and do nothing. More strength to your arm.

Speak to the parent. as much as u want that as the last option, my humble 2 cents feels like u should.

AT least find out why John is like that, or whether the parent is aware of John's behavior... Good luck! and do keep us posted!

If it were my kid I would want to know. Early intervention and all that stuff. Maybe they will be a-holes about it but maybe they wont. Talk to them.

Hi Tertia, I watched the movie "Buttercream Gang" the other day and it touched my heart. There was a bad boy that was doing really bad things and the grown ups tried to instill love and forgiveness into the boy he was picking on, this boy even faked a robbery thing to get money out of his grandpa, the robber took the kid hostage and threatened to hurt him in front of the grandpa but all his friends "saved him". They just kept being loving and kind to him. It finally sunk in. I don't agree with ostersizing him, but teach the children he comes in contact with to always be kind and honest with him about what makes them uncomfortable and let him know what behavious they must tell an adult. I don't know. Tough situation especially if th family plans on being there forever too. Look up the movie on wiki, most movies on wiki give you an almost verbatim of the plot.

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