DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor above me has a small child who looks to be about 5 years old. This kid is always running back and forth at all hours of the night. He acts out a lot, and the other neighbors have also noticed. His tantrums are out of control. The only reason I’m concerned is because I hear it all. Like I said, they live above me. Is there a polite way to suggest they have their child tested for developmental challenges? -- Out-of-Control Child, Bronx, New York
DEAR OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILD: You have no idea what’s wrong with this child -- if anything -- so the suggestion of developmental challenges is too much. What you know is that the child is allowed to stay up when a child typically should be sleeping. And you know that the child doesn't seem to be developing self-discipline matching what you believe to be normal. With that in mind, you need to take care in what you say to your neighbor.
Start out by admitting that you are having difficulty sleeping because the boy runs across the floor at all hours of the night when you are trying to rest. Ask your neighbor to get the child in bed at a reasonable hour. State when you normally go to sleep, and make it known that you would like quiet during that time. Suggest that they get a rug to help buffer sound.
If you have children or know about the care of children and can offer insight into what you believe you have observed based upon another child, not hearsay, you may be able to introduce that information to help encourage your neighbor to get support for the child. But honestly, it could be that the child just needs more loving attention and isn’t yet getting it.