Noise & Kids - Apartment Living

Question :
Well, we got our first kid-noise complaint today. My downstairs neighbor wrote: I can hear your son running back and forth, back and forth. I can pretty much hear everything down here. Its a bit much, especially at 7:30 AM. "

Now, I get it. I mean, I was kidless too once upon a time and liked to sleep. God, how some days I wish I could sleep like that again. But here is the thing. What am I supposed to do? What is expected? For one thing, he was NOT running for more than about 1 minute. In fact, we were playing with trains and playdoh and reading this morning. I think he ran like 4 times. We were not being exceptionally loud by any stretch of the word. I have neighbors upstairs who I swear move furniture at 3 AM. I figure if its not a ear-busting party, I can't really complain. This is apt. living.

What am I missing? What is basic apt-dwelling manners around this? I don't like to negatively affect others quality of life, but should I actually tell my son not to run in the house? He has a lot of energy, we have NO outdoor space unless we go out for walk. I just don't think I can do that. Tell a 3 year old to be quiet (read: not be a boy or play with his toys) while in his own house?

Posts from the list :

Yes, you tell your child not to run in the house! I am sorry, but, I have never seen it acceptable for kids to run in the house. If he does
it once, fine. But, to allow him to do it? No way. Yes, it is apartment living and your downstairs neighbor has to be somewhat tolerant and understand that-but, you do also! If you lived in a private house-sure, let him do what he wants to do. But, you live in an apartment, so, that is not possible.

Running and climbing are for outdoors. Take him out to the park if he wants to run and climb (especially at 7:30 in the morning). He doesn't necessarily have to be quiet (certain noise is to be expected, and your downstairs neighbor will have to deal), but, yes, IMO, running and jumping in the house especially when you live in an apartment is out of the question. And, I have 2 sons-i know how wild boys especially can be!


My solution was to sell our coop and buy a house outside of the slope. The idea of trying to keep young kids quiet, which seemed the fair
thing to do with neighbors and thin walls in the morning or late at night, felt really inhibiting to me (especially with a neighbor who had no kids and liked his quiet). Kids do need to run and so we found a place with a yard.


My suggestions would be to consider: (1) if you haven't put down a carpet, put one down someplace and tell him he can run just on that,
(2) tell your neighbor that you will try not to let him run too much before, say, 8 a.m. - and then in moderation.

That said, I think a 3 year old running around his own apartment at a normal time (7:30 a.m., 8 p.m. before bed) a little bit isn't unreasonable and it's not your fault that the walls are thin. These are normal behaviors of kids and it's not like you are being inconsiderate. Your posting asking for help shows that you're not just telling your neighbor "tough luck". See what reasonable accommodations you can make. At some point your neighbor may just want to move to a place with thicker walls, or to a top floor of a building so she doesn't have people above her, or whatever. Good luck and I hope you can resolve it without too much hardship on either side.


I tell my kids not to run in the house because of people down stairs.  I especially remind them of it before 10:30 -11:00 am on weekends but am less vigilant about it during the week after 7-7:30am.  I dont have rugs on all of the floors but imagine that this would help the noise.  I imagine that even though the OP's son did not run much on the morning when her neighbor complained, the neighbor has probably been quietly simmering for quite a while (at least, that is how I read the tone of the complaint).  Along with no running and rugs, telling the neighbor that you are doing xy and z and that you are hearing the complaint and working to make things better will probably go a long
way to diminishing some of the anger.

I have this situation with my neighbors upstairs from me but they actually sleep very late in the a.m and go to sleep late in the pm so I've had to complain because my kids are already sleeping when their kids are running around.... I would never complain about running if we're all awake or if it's a reasonable time of day. You might have that discussion - explaining that a certain amount of movement should be forgivable though you are willing to work with them on times... Frankly, 7:30am is pretty early for most folks - unless they have really little ones...

You might also discuss rooms -- If your child's bedroom is directly above their bedroom - and he gets up early and they get up late -
perhaps move playtime to another room until you know they are awake.

I agree with the previous poster that it's unlikely that this complaint was the result of one days running... There has probably been what they consider a lot of noise for a while and they just got the nerve to let you know about it.. I know I'm not very good with confrontation myself.

Good luck... It's part of city living and not everyone can afford a house with a backyard.


In our case, we seem to have reached a truce with our childless downstairs neighbor, who appreciated that we at least made an effort to research solutions. The bottom line, however, is that my research basically pointed out that even if you get wall-to-wall carpet and pads (which we did not), it often STILL does not make the problem go away ­ often, it really boils down to building problems and only the building addressing the root cause in a more structural way would the noise really go away.

That said, to ameliorate things, we did the following:

* bought foam puzzle mats for the kids¹ room (right above neighbors¹ bedroom)

* enforce no outside shoes worn inside

* bought Crocs knock-offs to wear as ³inside shoes² - kind of like wearing portable foam mats on kids¹ feet

* remind our kids not to run around the house and in general not to be too loud ( we try to have them do that stuff outside)

* lent our neighbor a white noise machine my mom happened to have

* make an effort to keep kids from playing in their room in the morning (since that¹s the most annoying time for our neighbor to hear them)

BUT, we also held our ground with our neighbor and pointed out:

* our kids are doing nothing wrong ­ they are children and it is normal for them to walk with flat feet, occasionally drop things, etc. and we refuse to penalize them for what we consider normal and acceptable behavior

* there are limits to our ability to control the noise, the building¹s poor infrastructure, and her sensitivity

Many people advised me to set strict limits and stick to set boundaries. Dealing with noise complaints can be crazy-making and unbelievably stressful so while it is important to make effort to improve things, it is also important to find a balance that does not make your family miserable to accommodate your neighbor since much of the problem is beyond your control!


i also want to say that the tone in which you respond to your neighbors is very important. in our last apartment, we lived above a couple with a 4-year old. every weekend morning, we were woken up around 7am by him running around. and yes, we lived ABOVE them. when we tried to approach them politely about it, they responded with anger and hostility, basically saying "tough sh*t."

while i agree that apartment living comes with a certain amount of compromise on all sides, it's important that your neighbor realizes that you understand the problem and are doing what you can. i think if our downstairs neighbors had been even remotely apologetic, we wouldn't have minded nearly as much.


When I've told my 2.5 year old to tiptoe in the morning or to be quiet at certain times because of "the people living beneath us" I then imagined his 2-year-old brain picturing humans living below the floorboards in our living room and bedrooms!!! :-) It makes me smile everytime...


When upstairs' neighbors don't do anything to quell their noise, a downstairs apartment can become uninhabitable. I know, I had to move away from folks who basically lived as if they were in a pigsty. Some reasonable noise is expected, but actions such as removing shoes, heels and  boots (the easy stuff) can make a word of difference. I cultivated a great relationship with my downstairs neighbor by letting her know when I'd be having  work done, having a party, etc. and it seemed to really aid the situation. Also, I visited her apartment many times to "see" exactly how the noise in my apartment sounded, and then I saw what I could change to keep her comfortable.

Meantime, consider this great poem by Ogden Nash:

The People Upstairs

The people upstairs all practice ballet
Their living room is a bowling alley
Their bedroom is full of conducted tours.
Their radio is louder than yours,
They celebrate week-ends all the week.
When they take a shower, your ceilings leak.
They try to get their parties to mix
By supplying their guests with Pogo sticks,
And when their fun at last abates,
They go to the bathroom on roller skates.I might love the people upstairs more If only they lived on another floor.