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Is this normal?

Our neighbor's son is seven years old. My son is five. Our son is high functioning autistic. Because of that, he is prone to nightmares and is sensitive and impressionable. We keep him a bit sheltered. He attends a Christian school and only watches cartoons on Disney, Nick and PBS.

Today, the neighbor boy came over to play for the first time in about a year. When I checked on them, I found them playing a very disturbing game. The neighbor boy was pretending to kill my son's stuffed animal (and narrating what he was doing) in different ways - drowning him, running him over with a bike, throwing him up and letting him hit the ground, and hitting him in the head with a football.

I was horrified and told his mom what he was doing (she was inside visiting with me at the time). I explained that my son would be in serious trouble at school if he recreated this "game" there. I told her that I thought it was disturbing. She rolled her eyes, but brought him home. She clearly thinks I am overreacting. She pointed out that at least they were not arguing like they used to. In my mind, this is worse than an argument.

Am I overreacting? Is this behavior normal for a seven year old?

I had a conversation with my son explaining that the Bible says not to kill and that it is so bad that we should not even pretend to do it. Is there anything else I should do to explain to my son that this is wrong?

BTW: My son will not be playing with this neighbor boy again.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 1:25 AM on Mar. 16, 2011 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

Answers (11)
  • You might be over reacting a little. No one can say for sure if there is something wrong with that little boy because we are not there. I have 2 boys and they play games similar to this at times. It is not something they do all the time and they know that killing things is wrong, so I usually don't think anything of it. Also, when I was a kid we used to play cops and robbers all the time and if you were a robber and tried to run the cops might shot you.  Maybe that is a little different because cops are suppose to protect so it is okay.

    I guess bottom line is you are not comfortable with her son showing your son stuff like this.  She sees nothing wrong with it; therefore you are at an impasse. It is probably best that they don't hang out anymore, although I don't think she is a bad parent or that you are because of this difference.


    Answer by cornflakegirl3 at 1:47 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • ummm boys do these things. My son is one of the sweetest, kindest, most empathetic kid you will meet, but he loves to run around the house, pretend to "kill" his stuffed animals or shoot things with his Nerf guns. He knows the difference between pretend play and the real thing. If this boy is not hurting your child and is a good kid, I find it sad that you will just automatically write him off and not allow him to come over and also to alienate his mother, who I am assuming is your friend?

    Answer by KTMOM at 11:01 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • That's kindof the hard thing about letting your 5 yr old have older playmates. Every year older they are than your child is an extra year of 'worldliness' that they have. We had a difficult time with our daughter and the next door neighbor who is 3 years older. It wasn't that she was a bad kid, but I didn't feel like the way she played or the things she said were appropriate for my daughter. It was stuff that is absolutely normal for that age, but not ok for a little girl if you know what I mean. So we did stop letting them play together, but we tried not to be obvious about it. We were always just 'busy'. Now my daughter is 8 and the neighbor girl is 11 and to me that is just worlds apart.

    Answer by slw123 at 6:50 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • At 7, that behavior is normal. It is more of a comfort thing on your part and what you want your child doing. You may be overreacting a little but you are the parent and get to decide what is done around your child and in your house.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 11:58 PM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • Yikes, I would be disturbed too, but it is probably innocent.

    Answer by cleanaturalady at 2:02 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • Its not normal BUT you are overeacting! I'll be honest here, you are totally in control of who you allow to be around your child while in your home and if this little boy does not meet the standard then end the friendship but just know, that regardless as to what school he attends, he will be exposed to many different things. It may be time to talk with him about different issues.

    Answer by mom2mybabes at 5:59 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • I don't care if it's 'normal' or not. It's not cool to play act violent killings. I don't think you over-reacted.

    Answer by Pnukey at 8:16 PM on Mar. 17, 2011

  • talk to the boys' parents and let them know that this is bothering you

    Answer by Christmaslver68 at 9:40 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • My first reaction was that this was NOT normal behavior, but after reading some of the other answers I'm not so sure. However, it is not good for your son, so I would not let them play together again. And I think there is a difference between cops and robbers and stabbing, but if his mom is not open to suggestions, not much you can do there.

    Answer by elasmimi at 9:39 AM on Mar. 19, 2011

  • My kids play things like that sometimes, I did as a kid too(we would have are gi joes get in avalanches and drop big rocks on them). My kids get it from watching my husbands video games. I would explain to the child that those are not appropriate games for your kid.

    Answer by othermom at 10:00 AM on Mar. 19, 2011

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