7 uncomfortable questions about how to deal with clingy kids who are your child's friends and more

When you're a kid, it's simple: get to know each other, make friends, and run off to play together. Adults are always choosing the best way to spend time with their child so that it was fun, interesting and useful, and all participants in the event. Children need constant care, and parents must not only give extra homework help, feeding and putting them to bed, but also pay attention, develop them and walk with them. And here every parent faces a difficult choice. But sometimes children become attached not only to other children, but also to adults - parents, grandparents, nannies and new friends. How do you explain to a little person that you are not determined to communicate with them as intimately as you do with your own child?

"You don't have to entertain other people's children."

Situation: Children can be very clingy. And their naivety and sincerity are sometimes really annoying. What to do if you and your child are followed by a stranger four years old (for example, at the playground or in a hotel at the resort), commenting on everything and constantly asking questions?

Kids are kids. Preschoolers are just learning the norms of interpersonal communication, and do not know all the rules of politeness. Patience and firmness in protecting your personal boundaries will help you. That is, you can be loyal to the noise and children's questions, but do not have to answer them if you don't want to. Be polite and calm. If the child doesn't understand your "no/no" the first time, don't be afraid to say it over and over again. And mind your own business. You don't have to entertain other people's children.

Children at this age are most often oriented toward talking to each other, but they don't quite know how to communicate yet. You can include your child in the conversation and thus encourage the beginning of communication between the children. It is important that the adult does not force himself or herself (and his or her child) to politely answer all questions if he or she does not really want to.

A "big kid" will not teach a little person how to properly set boundaries

Situation: There are some adults that children, even strangers, love very much. Children rush to share secrets with them, call them to play together, and consider them "their own." What to do if you are such an adult, but you don't feel like playing right now?


I have met such adults. But usually they themselves do not mind to play, chat, talk and be secretive. Such people have a gift - always remain children. They are excellent animators and babysitters.

However, the circumstances or the mood can be different. And the "adult-child" needs to be able to switch into "adult-adult" mode, taking a leadership position in the dialogue with the child. This is how adults teach children to build personal boundaries. And the "big kid" doesn't teach that, unfortunately.

"It's not your job to raise someone else's child."

Situation: You and your child are walking on the playground. And someone else's five-year-old first asks your child for toys. Then he raises a shout that you did not give them all. Then he demands to play hide and seek, offended that you did not take him to the game. His mom does not react in any way, she is busy with other things and clearly in no mood to enter into a dialogue.

Most likely, this child now needs so much adult attention that he is trying to compete with your child. It may be helpful for him, as it is for every child, to see that you have a clear position that you calmly express. This will help him make sense of the situation and begin to behave more appropriately. If not - at least try not to support him in destructive ways of behavior.

Raising someone else's child is not your job. And it's not a bad opportunity to show your children an example of how to protect your boundaries. Don't hurt someone else's child, don't be aggressive, but firmly tell him or her "no."

If your child is still having trouble asserting his boundaries, speak up for him ("We don't want to," "Pasha needs this car"). If your child can stand up to the little tyrant on his own, support him and be there for him, so he won't be so scared. In general, conflict and competition between children is normal, but proper conflict behavior must be taught.

"We've played and now we're saying goodbye."

Situation: You have an extrovert growing up who is like a magnet attracting children to you. Great. But what do you do with the kids he takes home all the time?

If you and your child want to invite a guest, you need to have him ask his parents first. If you don't, just say, "We've played and now we're saying goodbye."

Let's go back to the fact that you need to educate your own children, not other people's. Talk and explain to your children when and how you are ready to have guests at home. You have the right to set obligatory conditions: a convenient time for you, a place to play, meals, acquaintance and exchange contacts with parents and so on. Inviting friends home and visiting is a great practice. But it's also a pretty adult, responsible activity that your children need to be taught.

"If he wants to be in your space, he has to abide by your rules."

Situation: On vacation, especially if it is a small hotel, children quickly make friends for the whole vacation. Together to the sea, together to the pool. And in the room to play together, too. To you.

If your new friend is young, you should not take him anywhere without parental permission. So you take responsibility for the consequences, and probably cause panic in the family that lost him. There are two options: either look for the parents (ask where they are, contact the administration), or, if the conditions seem safe to you (for example, the child is left in a baby club), just refuse him and leave him in the same place.

I know from experience: in this situation, it can be frustrating to have a little guest behave as if they were at home. At this age, children often do not yet know how to behave as guests. On the other hand, it is at this age that children are naughty to their parents and sensitive to the comments of strangers. Therefore, it will most likely not be difficult to explain to your guest that if he wants to be in your space, he must obey your rules. Even if he gets offended, the feedback is not unreasonable for him.

"Kids can't always tell that a friend's presence deprives them of their personal space."

Situation: In first grade, making friends is very important. So you're happy to have one or two new buddies over for a visit. For an hour or two, that's enough. But one (apparently, the best new friend) settles with you on a permanent basis. It's nearing midnight, and he still won't leave. And so every day. What is he, bad at home?

Maybe your child's friend really has something in the home atmosphere that bothers him. You are unlikely to be able to help him with this. In such a situation, it is important to pay attention to your child's emotional attitude toward it. Children are not always able to realize and say that the constant presence of a friend deprives them of their personal space to some extent. You can define for yourself up to what point the presence of a guest does not disturb you, and establish certain rules in connection with this. For example, you can play silent games until 8 pm, and then we have a family dinner. Or we have dinner together, and then we have bedtime.


When parents don't hesitate to talk about their needs, particularly regarding maintaining their personal space or their family's space, they show their children the value of that. And they show how to tell their values to another.

Maybe it's bad. Or maybe it's boring. You'll have to do homework at home and have no one to play with - either way, you should be more concerned about your family's comfort and daily routine. Call your guest's parents and ask them to pick him up at a time that is convenient for you.

"Don't try to do the interrogation, you're certainly not going to get anywhere that way."

Situation: What if it was the other way around, like in that fairy tale, and every day your child asks to go to a friend's or a girlfriend's house? And he is ready to live there. Why all of a sudden? And how do you respond to that?

Perhaps there is something in the atmosphere of the friend's home or in his "object" environment that your child now feels a need for. This is something children can sometimes tell you about if you ask them what they like about visiting. In that case it is a reason to think about how you can support that need at home.

It is possible that in this way the child is escaping from your pressure in some matters of life or is avoiding control from your side. It is not unreasonable to find out if the parents of the friends do not interfere with the frequent presence of your child in their home.

Such friendships can be the best part of childhood. And if you see that your child always comes back from there in a great mood and is generally okay, I would recommend not interfering. But you as parents have the right to dictate your terms: the time to come home, the homework done. And it will be good to get acquainted with the parents of this friend(s), know the exact address and phone numbers.

If the question "why?" is bothering you, just talk to your child. Don't try to interrogate them, you won't get anywhere. Show keen interest in the relationship, ask about a friend, about their common hobbies. Children are happy to share their secrets, if parents are friendly.