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How to Handle the Unruly Kids Next Door

By Real Simple – 09/01/2005 – 12:00am

THE FIRST STEP: “I would say something to the kids before going to the parents,” says Sue Fox, the author of Etiquette for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, $15, Be aware that every neighborhood has rules and customs, and try to practice tolerance when it comes to innocent play. Still, you can lay down some ground rules: If a ball gets kicked into your yard, ask that the kids come around to retrieve it rather than climbing over the fence and stomping on your mums. Also, if a child gets hurt on your property, you could be liable (though most homeowner insurance policies will cover this).

THE NEXT STEP: If the kids won’t respect your rules, “it’s up to the parents to do something,” says Peggy Post, author of Emily Post’s Etiquette (HarperCollins, $26, “Try not to get riled up. Maybe the parents are working and don’t know what’s happening.”

THE LAST RESORT: If there has been damage to your property, talk to the parents before you call the police (and maybe you won’t have to). But if it’s a clear case of vandalism — a toolshed set on fire, a rock hurled through a window — you could be forgiven for skipping the call-the-parents step.

First Published in 2003

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