We don't have a good relationship with our next-door neighbors. The household includes two adults (man and woman) and three children (a girl who is 13, and two boys who are probably 8 and 6). Just by way of a bit of background, these neighbors have a swimming pool that is right next to the fence that adjoins our yards, and they have an outdoor speaker system that is aimed directly at our house. Swimming and music run every day, all summer from about 9:30 a.m. until about 10:30 p.m. and sometimes later. The music is very loud. We have attempted to speak with them about it, and they have proven themselves to be the most entitled, boorish, obnoxious people one might encounter. Please just trust me on that. They perceive they have the "right" to play their music however they prefer. We can hear it in our house with the doors and windows closed, if that gives you any idea what we're dealing with. It is nearly impossible for us to enjoy our own yard due to the volume of their music. During pool season, we frequently find their pool toys and trash in our yard (snack wrappers, chip bags, soda cans, drink bottles, etc.).
Once they close their pool for the season (thank goodness), we encounter a different problem: The two boys are unsupervised outside while they play. From that point on, we continue to find their trash, but the boys play in the area that adjoins the fence. They lose control over their toys (boomerangs, frisbees, various balls, etc.) and they fly over the fence into our yard. Here's what happens when a toy lands in our yard:
Two boys go to our front door. They ring the bell. If we are not immediately at the door in seconds, they commence with banging on the front door. They bang on the door and ring the doorbell constantly until someone answers. That could be a matter of 20-30 seconds. They peer into the side window right next to the front door. When we arrive at the door, typically, we see two foreheads pressed against the side window and two pairs of eyes staring at us. Open the door, and the boys say, "Our ball is in your yard. We need you to help us get it." They can't access our yard independently.
DH or DS will go outside, locate the ball, and return it to the boys. Within 10 minutes, two boys go back to our front door. They ring the bell. If we are not immediately at the door in seconds, they commence with banging on the door ... you get the picture. This may happen several evenings per week.
On some evenings DS has gone out more than twice to retrieve their errant toy. And yet again, the same situation repeats itself. If we decide not to answer the door, sometimes they will bang on it and ring the bell for 10 minutes until they decide to stop and go home. In some instances, they have tried to open the front door, which is always locked.
We think we need to institute some rules with these boys, who evidently have not figured out that they probably should be farther away from the fence when they play outside. We think that retrieving their toys for them every time they come to the door is not the way to reinforce the behavior we would prefer, which is that they should do a better job of being responsible for their toys. We also think that it could be helpful to help them learn some manners about ringing doorbells and knocking on doors.
So far, we have decided to stop answering the door after the first time we've helped them find a toy. If it happens again in the same evening, they are out of luck. DH or DS will go out at another time, find the toy, and toss it back over the fence into their yard. If it isn't convenient for us to help them at the exact moment they are at our door (e.g., we're eating dinner or watching a movie), we may choose to ignore them or we may tell them that it isn't a good time. In both circumstances, they have to wait until it is convenient for us to find the item, at which time we will toss it over the fence.
If they bang on the door repeatedly or ring the bell more than once, we will not answer the door. If we see their faces in the window by the door, we will not answer the door. We would plan to tell the boys about these rules so they know what to expect.
Does what I'm suggesting seem reasonable? I know it crosses the line into disciplining someone else's kids, but these two adults next door aren't supervising them and probably are clueless about what they're doing. We have no reason to believe that they would do anything about it given our previous interactions with them. Since the boys' behavior directly affects us, we think we have some standing to correct it. I do want to emphasize that we have no desire to "teach them a lesson" by keeping their toys.