Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbor Worried About Rambunctious Child

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.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my close friends will often host a girls’ night, and she invited one of her friendly neighbors. We’ve all become pretty good friends, and the neighbor shared with me that my friend’s husband is cheating on her while she’s at work. The neighbor works remotely from home often, so she sees the comings and goings at my friend's house. At first, I didn’t believe it, but I stopped by my friend's place one day, and sure enough, I heard a woman in heels walking around. With all the details shared with me already, I believe my friend is being cheated on. What do I say -- if anything -- or do I just mind my own business? -- I Know He's Cheating, Denver

DEAR I KNOW HE’S CHEATING: Talk to the neighbor, and suggest that she tell your friend. She is the one with the concrete details that prove, at least, that a woman has been regularly visiting your friend's husband at home. Hearing a woman’s footsteps does not tell you with certainty that this man is having an affair. You must be careful what you presume and repeat. Rather than speaking your presumptions, do your best to get the neighbor to speak up.

If that doesn’t work, you may want to tell your friend that you are concerned based on suspicions that your neighbor brought to your attention. With her permission, share what you were told and what you heard.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)