When a Neighbor Yells at Your Child for Being on Their Lawn
How to Handle A Neighbor Yelling at Your Child for Being on Their Lawn
Although seeing your children happily playing on a lawn might make you feel good as a parent, it is likely causing anger and resentment if it is being done on another person's property. If one of your neighbors recently yelled at your child for being on their property, here is why and here is how to handle it.
Recognize you are teaching your children to ignore boundaries.
- Always be aware of your effect on other people's rights. Many mothers and fathers have a permissive style of parenting. They do not want to tell their child a stern "no" for fear the kid will be upset or cry. Even if this dynamic works in your own home, being permissive with other people's property will eventually lead to trouble for your child. While you might have taught your child right from wrong in most cases, this is one you missed.
Realize the property owner is within their rights for doing so.
- Property lines are important to people. It denotes where their area of responsibility is and where their feelings of security lie. Violating a property line to some people is akin to violating their personhood. When you step over that line the neighbor is likely to respond in a way you feel is emotionally charged. Having someone's unwelcome child or dog in the yard can feel very disrespectful.
Resist the temptation to start a fight or tell the neighbor off.
- Although it is normal to be upset that someone yelled at your child, you are in the wrong for allowing them to be on the neighbor's lawn in the first place. If you do not have previous express permission by the property owner for your son or daughter to be there, then it is considered trespassing.
- Often many parents in a neighborhood have an unwritten agreement with each other that each other's kids can play on their grass. But don't assume that you can extend that rule to everyone, and especially to neighbors that don't have young kids.
Understand the neighbor probably yelled because speaking in a normal volume didn't work.
- Many children do not listen to adults telling them "no" repeatedly because the tone is not aggressive enough. After being nice long enough, people's frustrations will boil over into yelling. In addition, some people will use the "scared straight" method to prevent repeat offenses because they've found it is the only method that works. So if you think your neighbor is a jerk for yelling, imagine what he thinks of the behavior that caused him to do so. Don't be surprised if some cursing gets thrown in as well.
- If you are upset that your neighbor did not come to you to tell you he didn't want your child on his lawn rather than having a yelling incident, there are a few reasons he probably handled it this way. First, he might not have known it was your child. Many people are not close with their neighbors, and do not know whose children are whose. Most people do not follow kids home to know where their parents live either.
Be aware that having your kids trounce on their lawn can ruin their property.
- A lot of homeowners spend hundreds of dollars in grass seed each year, or even twice per year to make sure they have lively green grass. Imagine the frustration that the neighbor would feel when oblivious children trounce all over their grass seed and their plans, just to leave ugly brown patches. And parents just stand by allowing it to happen as if it is normal. If your neighbor hires a professional lawn care or landscaping company, it might make them even more livid. Remember, just as you don't design your front yard for other people's convenience, they do not either.
- Even if your neighbor has an unkempt front yard, it doesn't give other people the right to walk all over it. Property lines are property lines.
- Walking your dog in their yard or allowing your kids to run with your dog in their yard is probably going to make anger escalate pretty quickly, even if you do clean up after them.
Understand that disturbances by children can cause a lot of privacy issues to neighbors.
- A number of people have elderly or disabled residents or run businesses from their home. What you think is joyful playing by kids is actually thought of as an unnecessary and unwelcome invasion of privacy and noise. People are not obligated to tolerate this on their own property.
- You probably noticed that these same neighbors have never brought their dogs or kids onto your lawn because they believe in being considerate. You should do the same.
What to Do Next
- Stay off of your neighbor's lawn and their backyard if it is an open one.
- Show the same respect to your other neighbors as well, unless you have an agreement that your kids can play in their front yard.
- Use this as a lesson for your child and yourself about respecting boundaries.
- You don't have to apologize to your neighbor if you feel your pride or your child's pride has been hurt, but don't go out of your way to be rude either. Just be neutral with them. Realize you made a mistake, they had an emotional response, and no one is perfect.
- Realize after your child adjusts to the new rules this problem will pass and you will be on to more enjoyable neighborhood issues.
Feel free to ask a question or tell your personal story below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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