Please forgive the long post, but I have two questions and this is my first time posting to a forum. I hope that someone takes the time to read this and offer some advice!
My son is 8 years old and in the last few months he has made drastic changes in his behavior. We have new neighbors from a different state that we gotten to know. They have three children 6, 8, and 10 and all of them..all of them are much more "advanced" socially then my son. They play spin the bottle (even the 6 year old), watch horror movies, and tease other kids...all things that my son has never done before he began playing with them. Since he began playing with them, his attitude has changed quite a bit. Because of a youtube video that they watched at their house, my son is afraid to sleep in his own room (over three months now). He is mean to other kids and is obsessed with playing with only the new neighbors. He has begun lying, sneaking, and swearing. He has a tantrum anytime we have to leave the house, even if it is to go to his baseball games or his swimming lessons. We argue more often and the begging to "rush home" or "go out and play" is relentless! I usually end up giving in, because I can't deal with the constant begging and pleading.
We created a "friend contract" that he promised that his friends would not interfere with his health, his school, or his daily routine...oh and he had to promise to be able to say "no" to his friends when they want to do things that aren't safe. Since we created this (a week ago), I have received a letter from his teacher telling me that she is worried about his recent change in behavior. The teacher said that he doesn't pay attention anymore and that it always looks like there is "something on his mind".
My husband hates the neighbor kids and things that our son should just never go and play, but he is anti-social himself. My mother-in-law said that I should move.. I need real advice from other parents.
Is this just an age thing or is this unhealthy? Is it normal for 8 year old's to be this obsessed with wanting to be with friends?!
On another note, all of the kids recently began to play with this 15 year old. I thought it was odd that a 15 year old would want to play with an 6, 8, and 10 year old, so I took time to get to know him.. to find out why he wants to play with my young son.
I found out that his mother died when he was 10 and as a result he claims to be a addict in recovery, a pyromaniac and a cutter (he showed me several cuts on both arms). He was removed from the public school b/c they were afraid that he was a harm to himself n others he goes to school at a local mental health hospital now. I tried to explain to my son that he is too young to play with this boy and my son insists even begs to play with him each day. The 15 year old drew my son pictures and played soccer with him and said he is "attached" to my son. Scared, I told my son that he could be dangerous still He has been caught sneaking off to play with this older child. In desperation to keep them apart, I told my son that he cuts himself (probably not the best approach) with no result. Our neighbor with three children ages 6, 8, and 10 allow them to play with this 15 year old boy despite my warning. Am I wrong? What can I do?