Victim turned bully?(7 Posts)
Hi there. My son (Y4) had a terrible time at school last year but now he is back in with his friends at school and much more confident. However this group of boys who were giving my son a hard time have now moved on to another boy and I think my son is joining in with excluding this boy at school. I have heard my son make nasty comments about this boy at home and on a school trip the other day.
This is difficult because this boy's mother is looking to my son (who generally has a repuation as a caring and gentle boy) to become her son's friend. After putting it off for a long time, I have finally agreed to a playdate. My son resents this as he does not want to be associated with this boy. I assume this is because he fears being bullied again and it's safter for him to be complicit in bullying the other boy. However, I can see also that my son has never liked this boy, who is much more boisterous and loud than he is.
How do I address this with my son? I have tried telling him to be polite and kind to the other boy and to remember how it felt for him when he was bullied but I am not sure this is working. Also, how do I talk to the mother of the boy being bullied? Should I make my son have playdates with someone he doesn't like or should I be honest with her and tell her I don't think they can be friends right now? I feel very sorry for the other boy as he seems to have real difficulty making friends. However, I also feel I should respect my son's wish not to play with this child. Help!
I personally would not force social circles at this age for anyone's sake. It will probably make your son resent the play dates and other boy if he really doesn't want to go. I would try to be as polite as you can to the child's mother as it is really hard to watch a your child in this situation.
Sometimes children who have been bullied will join in as a defence mechanism and to avoid being bullied again, you should definitely talk to your son about not treating others that way and how he should treat everyone how he would wish to be treated but the harsh reality is that life doesn't always work that way and usually gets worse as they move into high-school.
In Y4 you shouldn't force a playdate if your son doesn't want it BUT, you seem a little half-hearted in your approach to your son bullying another.
It is not acceptable, whether it stems from self-preservation or not.
As a 8/9 year old he is old enough for you to have a frank discussion about how wrong bullying is.
He is also old enough to face the consequences of his actions. Hopefully there will be sanctions at school for all the bullies when the parents of the bullied child complain.
There should also be sanctions at home as you know that he is doing the wrong thing.
You and he know how miserable that boy must be.
Agree with RaisinBoys - your son is probably relieved that the bullies have moved on to someone else.
Whilst there is no benefit in forcing him to be friends with the latest victim of these bullies, it does sound just a little bit that you are also relieved the bullies are leaving your son alone. The fact that he may well now be bullying (or going along with those who do it) needs to be addressed whoever he is friends with.
This is not acceptable and, no matter how much he fears becoming a target again, he should not be allowed to be horrible to this boy. He doesn't have to be his best friend but you and the school need to make it clear this is the case. And that goes beyond just talking to him and reminding him how horrible it is to be bullied. If he is saying horrible things that you have heard, then he should be punished for this and told to stop.
RaisinBoys, I agree with what you say about frank discussion and I have indeed been very frank with my son. I don't believe I am being half hearted. I am just trying to tread cautiously around an emotive subject. For now I feel that any punishment beyond verbal discussion would be a little over the top.
On a school trip the teacher told off a group of boys, including my son, for name calling this boy. I later made it very clear to my son that I had heard what had happened and that I completely backed the teacher. Of course if I witnessed direct bullying I would wade in and punish him but all I have heard so far is comments that my son has made to me. At the moment, we have a dialogue about the situation, even if I am not pleased with what my son tells me sometimes. I worry that if I come down too hard on my son the discussion about this boy at home will stop.
In addition, the situation is not black and white. My son says he does not like the boy who is being bullied because he deliberately poked my son in the eye on the last playdate and laughs it off if my son mentions it to him. This boy is also loud and shows off a lot (perhaps his own defence mechanism?) None of this excuses bullying him but I can see why this boy and my son clash.
Ditsydoll, you are right. My son resents me and does not understand why he should be 'forced' to play with someone he does not like. So, I am left with the dilemma of what to say to the boy's mother who is understandibly desperate for her son to make new friends.
MouseThatRoars - yes, bullying is an emotive subject. However, it is wrong.
You cannot justify your own child's bad behaviour by pointing out flaws in the other child.
There is a big difference between a "personality" clash and systematic bullying & name-calling.
Your son does not have to like this boy, he doesn't have to play with this boy, but he does have to leave him alone.
What a fantastic example he would set if he made a decision not to join in with the bullying? If he didn't just run with the pack. Difficult I know when you're Y4, but you condoning and justifying bullying is not the way to go.
As for the mother of the bullied child: you're an adult, I'm guessing from what you've said that she is not a friend who you are worried about upsetting. Speak to her and say that your son has a different group of friends to her son's, so he is not really up for a playdate at the moment.
RaisinBoys, I am surprised that you think I am condoning and justifying bullying. I was simply trying to understand what might be motivating my child to collude with others in his class.
Of course bullying is wrong and this is the message I am trying to reinforce with my child. I have now spoken to his teacher who says that she has not witnessed or heard him directly bullying this child but she is aware of problems with the group. She will keep an eye on things.
And you have just confirmed for me what I know I have to say to the mother of this child. It's just hard to say it!
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