Dear Miss Emily:

 I have a neighbor directly next door to me and she has a son the same age as my son (7).  They tend to argue more than get along these days.  I think it is that my son has a younger brother and has had to learn to share, where the neighbor boy doesn't like to share and is very jealous of my son and tries to get others against him for some reason.  His mom doesn't see this so ignores my thoughts.  My son's feeling get hurt and it bothers me that we have to live right next door, so I can't prevent the neighbor boy from being around outdoors  playing with others that my son plays with too.  What do you suggest to help me with this matter
Worried Mom

-----------------Miss Emily’s advice----------------

Dear Worried:

I have always been led to believe that children must work out these problems on their own – that’s learning how to live in the big world, and they had better get used to this aspect of socialization sooner rather than later.  But I’m not so sure about this as a hard and fast rule.  No child should be forced to tolerate bullying and undisciplined behavior.  Now how do you put a stop to this?  I suggest you reinforce to your son that it is important for him to stand up for himself and not allow this boy to take charge. Follow it by explaining to him that this child has no more rights than he, and stress the rules of fair play.  Continue to monitor the interaction between them, and intercede if you see a problem.  Let this boy know that you will not allow him to behave aggressively toward your son.  Do it in a firm but kindly manner, and suggest reasonable solutions. Your son will see that you are intolerant of bad behavior, and he will learn from you.  Keep an open communication with your son concerning his interaction with this boy and give advice as you see fit.  Again, emphasize what is fair rather than defame or lower yourself to this boy's level.  Your children will easily accept your willingness to help them if you present yourself in a rational, nonjudgmental manner.  And finally, if your son’s playtime with this boy becomes too difficult for him, tell him to grab his brother and come home. Reward him for his good judgment in knowing that he need not be a part of activities that turn into a chapter of Lord of the Flies (boys behaving badly!).  If your neighbor doesn’t like your apprach, too bad. Your children come first.