I wasn't really sure how to phrase the title of the post but I know there are parents here who might have some advice on this! Our 22mo DS has just now started interacting with the other kids in our neighborhood (due to covid and being too little). A house down the street from us has three boys, one very close to our son's age and two who are in elementary school. The older boys are very good with our son and happy to share their toys and invite him to throw the ball with them, etc. The younger boy, though, is not. He is not mean to my son, but if my son walks up to something, say a ball, to play with it, the boy will rush over and take it away. My son just quietly hands it over and takes a step back and watches him walk away with the ball with this super sad look on his face. It's heartbreaking! The boy does this with almost anything my son touches, so it happens a lot. The other parents are outside supervising too and see this, but will only stop the older boys and remind them to be attentive around the little boys, but do nothing to stop their youngest from taking things from my son, even if my son has been playing with it for a bit when their son decides he wants it.

To be fair, these are not my son's toys. These are all these three boys' things. We are in their front yard playing, not at our house. The other boy is not very verbal from the time I've spent with him, and he is used to pushing his way around his brothers and getting his way with them as the youngest.

So my question is, how do I best approach this situation? I want my son to learn to navigate situations confidently. Right now he seems very passive and quiet when these events happen. He will come to me and say "I play with ball? I want to play with the ball" when the ball is taken from him, and I don't know how I'm supposed to respond. It is the other kid's ball. He also didn't care about it until my son touched it. Right now I'm trying to simply redirect him to another toy and hope the boy leaves him alone.

Even with this happening, my son is eager to play with "my friends" when he sees them outside. He is enthralled with all the toys these boys have--bikes and a basketball hoop and balls. He receives glowing reports from his Montessori school about his interactions with his classmates. So I guess really this is about how I can best support him during situations like this. Advice?

ETA All we adults are vaccinated! And yes, we're nervous about DS being around the other kiddos, but he was so desperate to see them we gave in. Ah, covid anxiety...