My 6 year old is bullying.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lseichler, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. lseichler

    lseichler Guest

    I would really appreciate any advice or help I could get from you. It's been a bad day.

    My son is 6 years old and started Kindergarten 3 months ago.

    He is very active. Makes friends easily and loves to play. He's smart. He can be very loving and cuddly at times. He can also be aggressive. He seems angry more than a 6 year old should be angry. He is not a crier or a whiner. He does not tattle tale. This is nature, not nurture - just how he is. His father and I don't push him to not cry or be a man or anything like that. "Use your words" is a familiar statement out of my mouth.

    He would get in trouble as a toddler for pushing and on a couple occasions biting, but nothing too out of the normal range.

    At the beginning of school the feedback from his teacher was "he is making friends easily" and he "has to learn when it is play time and when to sit quietly". Apparently he was rough housing with the other boys in his class. Not bullying behavior, they just couldn't keep their hands to themselves when they sit on the mat btwn activities.

    I heard a lot from my son about a certain boy in his class. He idolized him. Then he started saying things like "Brian" hates me. "Brian" doesn't like that shirt so I won't wear it. "Brian" thinks that game I used to love is stupid. You get the picture.
    He had an assigned seat next to this same boy on the bus. When my son would get off the bus he was always very upset and red in the face. He wouldn't tell me what was wrong, but he never tells me anything. He always does "nothing" at school or "nothing" when playing at a friend's house.
    Then one afternoon I was called to talk to the bus driver because there had been a problem with my son and this other boy. My son had hit the other boy. I do not begin to doubt this. What I think happened was this little boy teases my son and does things like untie his shoes and then my son hits him. After talking to the bus driver about how my son has had some problems with this boy at school and seems to be teased by him, the bus driver moved my son to a different seat. Problem solved, right?
    NO. 2 days later I am asked to talk to the bus driver again. My son has pushed his friend out of the seat. I do not think he was rough housing or having fun at all. I do believe he was being mean. This little boy is at least 6 months younger than my son and might seem a little more "babyish" to my son. Basically a good target. I sent my son to his room. He had to write apologies to the boy and the bus driver. He had stern "talking to's" from his father and myself. Problem solved, right?
    NO. Today I had to talk to the bus driver again. He told another boy that he was "going to kill him with a chainsaw" and untied his shoes. I could barely get anything about what happened out of my son. Again the other little boy is not really popular and is kind of dorky - a good person to pick on. His mother and I are good friends. My son is still in his room as I just don't know what to do. He is supposed to be writing his apologies again - not that it helped before. In his apology he says sorry and then he tells the other boy not to untie my son's shoes??? I don't know if the other boy untied his shoes or not. I don't know what happened in order to make my son act so hatefully. I don't even know if anything happened at all. I wasn't there.
    I am mortified, embarrassed, angry, you name it. I feel like a total parenting failure.
    What do I do? How do I handle this? We've been on both sides of this bullying thing and I honestly don't know which side is worse. I hate to think of my baby boy as being a mean, hateful person. I would do anything I had to do to help him become a happy, kind, empathetic person. Where did I go wrong and where do I go from here?
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It really sounds to me like your son began bullying because he was himself bullied. Generally the first target is either the original bully, or a victim of the former bully. Two ways the child is thinking - wither retaliation; or "I am not strong enough to hit him back, but I can still push around this other kid." This second one i where true bullying can develop. I don't class retaliation as bullying, not directly.

    A lot of what you describe, including your son writing, "Don't untie my shoes" sounds like retaliation.

    What are the social dynamics of the families of the other kids? Brian's family - how socially proactive are they? What sort of things are they involved in? How well do you know them? Often the parents can be lovely people, but totally blind where their kids are concerned. Also, the bus situation is being monitored, but what about in class or in the playground? There could be a lot of ongoing bullying and your son feeling totally helpless.

    He needs help, probably some counselling and strategies to learn resilience and how to respond more appropriately to bullying. But this will also require sensible and appropriate follow-through from the school and that is not always forthcoming.

    Brian sounds like a kid determined to totally dominate and control others, one way or another. A major concern; the best defence for your son will be in his own head, with help.

    easy child had a 'friend' like this when she was the same age. A girl we knew from church, we really like the parents as friends. But that girl was mean and manipulative, and her parents never worked it out. Would not listen to any problems, assumed it was our daughter making it up (who never made up anything like that about other kids, ever). And now the girls are grown up - our daughter did well at school; went to uni, got a career, is now married and planning a family. The other girl, despite being equally intelligent and with wealthier parents (who could better afford tuition, private school etc) dropped out of school, got into drugs, drifted from one job to another and is only now getting her life back on track.

    What goes around comes around. Dealing with the problems now and finding a workable solution to the problem IN BROAD (and not just what is happening on the bus) should b=pay dividends in years to come. These are nasty lessons for our kids, and the sooner they overcome these problems and learn how to behave more appropriately, the faster the payoff.

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think we need to know more about your son to help you. If you could answer a few questions, this would help us a lot. The "kill him with a chainsaw" comment to me is a bit of a red flag.

    1/Is there any psychiatric problems on either side of your child's GENETIC family tree. This includes Dad, even if he has never met his Dad because Dad contributed 50'% of his genes to this child. This includes Aunt Lucy who had a "nervous breakdown." Did anyone abuse substances including alcohol in his genetic family tree. All of these are clues.

    2/In his early years did he cuddle nicely and make good eye contact with you and with strangers? Did he have any obsessions or quirky behaviors. Does he know how to get along with his same age peers and does he do interactive play with them? Does he use toys appropriately (then and now)?

    3/Have you taken him for an evaluation at any point in time? I think there are enough red flags to warrant an evaluation. Until you have some idea of why he is who he is...what makes him tick...if he has any is hard for us to advise you. He is not responding to normal parenting techniques. Does he have any nightmares or trouble sleeping or anxiety? I'm just fishing here...I just don't know enough. Although I do think he could be copying Brian, I don't think that's the gist of it. Many bullied kids (and this didn't go on for too long) DON'T bully other kids. I think this is just part of who you son is. I am using the behavior you described at home as well and trying to get a picture of this boy.

    4/What is the family situation like? Has anybody ever abused him or did he see abuse? Was the home situation ever volatile? You don't mention a father...I am assuming his father doesn't live there. But maybe I"m wrong. Are you a single parent?

    Welcome to the board but sorry you have to be here.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Two ways of seeing that comment:

    1) he thought it up himself. That would be a grave concern. OR

    2) He is repeating what some other kid said to him. Often, the kid he is saying it to is possibly the kid who first said it to him.

    When easy child was sexually abused at the age of 5, by a 7 year old, the boy said to her, "If you tell, I will send my dad round to your place to run over your mother with his lawnmower and kill her." The boy was graphic and easy child was terrified. I believe the boy made that threat because someone (his father?) had molested him and threatened him the same way to enforce silence.

    Whatever the source, it is an inappropriate comment and I think indicates that counselling of some sort would be a good idea. First to find out where it came from, and then to teach him better coping skills.

  5. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    As the parent of a child who does a lot of bullying--it's hard for me to point to "Brian" as the instigator of all the problems.

    My daughter's bullying stems from her need to control everything. When she was in kindergarten, she too, seemed to make friends easily and had a child that she considered a "best friend". I later discovered that difficult child's version of "friendship" was the problem. When she made a friend, she stifled that person--needing to be the center of their attention at all times--and preventing that person from playing with anyone else. Eventually the "friend" would get angry at difficult child and seek to create some distance. When subtle hints like "I want to play with someone else" didn't work...the other child would usually resort to physically pushing difficult child away...

    Which difficult child interpreted as the other child "being mean".

    The difficult child would seek to make a new friend--and repeat the same kinds of behaviors...and create the same result. Only this time, when the friend tried to push her away--difficult child would push back and "punish" the other child for "being mean". (And we would get similar apologies from difficult child as you describe from your son.... Like "I'm very sorry I pushed you. You should know not to call me names.")

    We tried a lot of role playing with difficult child and the school counselor was great about working with difficult child on making friends and being a friend.

    Check with your school. Many have programs that help kids with socialiation skills. They may have "Lunch Groups" to help kids make friends. They can also sit down with your son and Brian and see if they can help the two of them get along better.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    DaisyFace, that was well explained. It can be so difficult to try to work out what is going on, but some level of social ineptitude with one or both kids is often underlying repeat, obvious, bullying behaviour. And yes, it needs to be dealt with and not simply punished each time. It is important to be proactive.

    I remember difficult child 3 getting very angry with his best friend during a chess game one afternoon. The friend was a nice kid who was enjoying the game and smiling. difficult child 3 interpreted the smile as deceit, he believed that his friend was smiling because he was trying to trick him in the game. Trying to cheat. I found it interesting that this was difficult child 3's reaction. We talked about it; I stopped the game for a while, asked difficult child 3 why he thought his friend was cheating and in what way he could possibly be cheating if I was there supervising the game. We finally got the message through to difficult child 3 that sometimes people just smile because they are happy; it doesn't mean anything nasty is going down. Luckily the friend was VERY understanding, had a really good understanding of difficult child 3's autism. Amazing, for his age. They moved away from the area a few months later and we really missed him. The boys were 8 years old at the most, probably only 7.

    Social skills programs are worth pursuing but can still be of limited use if the child's social capability is just not there yet. You can't teach what a child is not ready to learn, and sometimes the brain just isn't yet mature enough. Also if there are other ongoing hidden issues (such as difficult child 3 on the receiving end of a lot of ongoing bullying) then a lot of what you are trying to teach can get undermined. In our case we were working hard on difficult child 3 to teach him to never hit back under any circumstances. Meanwhile, he was being hit by other kids, regularly. So his lesson and eventual behaviour was irritability with people in general, coupled with just standing there and asking people to hurry up and hit him (so it would be over sooner). It heightened his anxiety considerably, which greatly reduced any chance of him learning anything, either academically or socially.

    It's really important to get a good understanding of what is going on, and frankly, this requires a high level of observation and very careful questioning of those involved.