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My friend’s kid is mean to my child

my friends kid is mean to my child

When your friend’s kid is mean to your child it can come as a shock. All of us know that our child’s behavior can be unpredictable at times. Children can be happy one minute, and half an hour later they are acting out or having a tantrum. We need to remember that behavior is a moment in time and a reflection of a child’s personality and cognitive and emotional development.

Our children may not know how to express themselves effectively, and sometimes this leads to bad behavior. Kids don’t always understand how their moods or bad behavior affects those around them.

Other factors can also contribute to the situation if a child is tired or frustrated they are not going to show up as their best selves.


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Why Kids Can Be Mean to Others

handling my kid’s mean behavior

There are many reasons that a child may act in an unkind way, they may be jealous of something, they feel frustrated, and act out. 

Some children want to exert power and appear dominant towards other children. They feel important when they can say something unkind and get a rise out of the child they are picking on. It gives the child a feeling of power over their peers.

We can prepare our children by teaching social skills and offering guidance on how they deal with challenging situations.

As parents, we are role models, who need to help our children navigate situations and deal with mean behavior.

Some parents refuse to acknowledge their child’s mean behavior

Some parents have a challenging time accepting that their child could ever be mean to another child. They think that their child can do no wrong, and when you bring up the topic, it can fall on deaf ears. 

Marie brought up an incident with her friend sharing how Niki’s son started smashing her son’s toys at a playdate. Both kids were nine, and Niki’s son was old enough to know better. 

When she mentioned it to Niki she could tell that Niki was really offended and not open to discussion about the matter. Niki quickly changed the topic and left the playground shortly after Marie brought it up. Niki was cold towards Marie for the next couple of months when they ran into her.

It is important to always tread gently when bringing up a child’s behavior with a parent because you never know how they will react.

Identifying Mean Behavior

It can be very upsetting to find out that your child’s friend has been unkind to your child and it can be easy to overreact. It is best to find out what exactly happened so you can take the best course of action for both children.

Signs of Mean Behavior in Children

Signs that your child has experienced unkind treatment from a friend’s child may include the following:

  • Your child no longer seems keen to get together or see the child.
  • After getting together, you notice that your child is visibly upset.
  • Your kid’s belongings have either gone missing or are damaged.
  • After getting together you notice your child having negative self-talk saying things like, “I have no friends” or “Nobody likes me.”

signs your child experienced mean behavior

If any of these things happen, you will want to get to the bottom of what is going on and see if this child has been picking on your child.

Impact on Your Child

Mean behavior can have a negative impact on your child’s self esteem. Kids can start to doubt themselves and think that they are the issue when the kid acting up is the real problem.

Talk to your child about a time you had to navigate a situation with an unkind child when you were growing up. It will help your child understand that dealing with mean behavior happens to everyone.

Sophia shared with her daughter that when she was a kid her cousin would be really mean and do unkind things to provoke a reaction from her. When Sophia reacted and got mad in front of the adults, her cousin who had set her up, acted as sweet as apple pie. A classic manipulator, even as a kid! All the adults would get mad at Sophia and think she was a troublemaker and her cousin was a good kid.

If your child is being picked on you will want to deal with the situation as soon as possible. It may be time to have a one to one chat with your friend.

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Approaching Your Friend

It is important to talk to your friend about what is going on because you need to be an advocate for your child. You will want to tread carefully and proceed in a calm and tactful manner.

Here are a few suggestions on how to approach your friend and bring the topic up:

Pick the right time to talk to your friend

It is important to pick the right time to bring it up. Make sure your friend isn’t frazzled or heading out the door quickly. Ask your friend if they have a minute to chat, and make sure that you are both free of distractions.

talking to your friend about their child’s mean behavior

Communicate Effectively about the issue

Start with a positive, about how much you value the friendship with both the parent and the child. Explain what has been going on, exactly what happened, and the behavior that you are upset about. Don’t blame the child or you will get the parent’s back up.

Try to find a solution for the next get together that will work for both kids. Share that you want both kids to be happy and safe and continue their friendships. Ask your friend if they have any suggestions for the next play date so things can run smoothly.

Your friend may not be aware of their child’s behavior and may be taken by surprise. Sometimes people have a very different interpretation of events according to their values. It is important to focus on finding a solution for everyone involved.

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Guiding Your Child

Your child is going to need your guidance to work through the situation. By preparing in advance, your child will have a much easier time navigating the situation. This is a great experience for your child to learn and build some resilience.

Teaching Empathy

This is an opportunity to teach your child about empathy. Discuss why you think their friend may be acting this way. By looking at it from the other child’s point of view it will give your child more compassion in dealing with the situation.

teaching empathy to your child when someone’s mean to them

Ask your child their thoughts on the situation and what they think would be the best way to handle the situation.

Let your child know that you have their back and that you support them. Explain that navigating issues in friendships is a part of life, and even adults go through rocky patches in their friendships.

Build Resilience in your child

One way to help your child through the situation is to help them focus on what they can control. Teach your child that we are all going to have friends who have mean behavior, the only thing that we can control is how to respond to the situation.

You can give your option of taking a break from the other child for a while or not having play dates with this child again if the behavior is serious in nature.

Make sure your child knows that they are never responsible for another child’s unacceptable behavior. They are only responsible for themselves.

At times we are going to like some friends more than others and that is perfectly natural. People aren’t perfect and we are all growing and learning. 

Seeking Professional Help

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If your child is being bullied or picked on by another child it may help to talk to a professional. If we are dealing with a friend it can become an emotionally charged situation and support from an unbiased observer can be very insightful.

Better Help is a great resource where you can talk to a counselor from the comfort of their own home. Reach out for help if you or your child needs someone to talk to

My friend's child is mean to my kid

Got any comments, questions or tips when your friend’s kid is mean to your child. Share them in the comments below.


Do you worry about your child being picked on? Our Bullyproof Your Child Quickly Guide will show you how to bullyproof your child in just 4 simple steps. The guide includes our letter to the school template. It’s a game changer–get it free for a limited time!


Bryn Todd

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