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Today collecting my son from preschool the teacher/carer took me to one side saying she needed to talk to me.
She said that my son, S (5 in December) had been involved in some very unpleasant behaviour that they had been observing for a couple of weeks. He, and another boy, T, had been chasing a third boy, M. The staff had been watching the behaviour ever closer since small boys' play is often pretty wild and it can be difficult to distinguish between friendly rough'n'tumble and fighting, but they were now clear that M was not having fun at all. On Monday S and T held M against a wall and were laughing at him. Today S hit M twice on the face, then called T and said 'look what i'm doing'. All doubt was removed.
This is horrifying stuff to hear about your own child and my first reaction was to try to blame T, as he can be pretty rough. But that would be letting S off too easily. His behaviour, whether self initiated or as part of a 'mini-gang', was completely unacceptable.
What is puzzlíng is that M and S often appear to be good friends. M always greets S warmly when he arrives in the morniing, and They sometimes play together happily.
I am not going to brush this off as a storm in a tea cup, but neither do i want to be overly alarmist. He is at an age where phases seem to come thich and fast and this could just be another syptom of a current difficult phase.
I am looking for general advice on how to broach the subject with S. Are there any good ways of demonstrating to him the effects his behaviour has on M's feelings? Should there be some punishment, denial of something or other? Should he be made to apologise or is that just a humiliation that will require avenging?
Also, should i contact M's parents to apologise? Should we arrange a playdate between them?