I have a 4 year old DS at preschool and I would be down on him like a tonne of bricks if he did this. Your son is 5 so well able to understand what he did was wrong. We would have punishments, would be told how sad we were that he hurt M and he would be made to apologise to the other child. Children of that age understand the concept of bullying so working with him to make him realise how upset he would be if it happened to him. It doesn't matter if he was led by the other child or not he needs to understand how seriously you take this sort of behaviour. If you deal with it now there shouldn't be any repeat of the incident. My DS said something horrible about one of the other children at nursery which one of the other kids told him. By the time I'd finished he understood that there was zero tolerance of any sort of nastiness.
Hmm this is a tricky one. I would definitely say that something has to be done about his behaviour, not only for M's sake, but also for your sons sake, no one likes a bully. I can imagine its a tough pill to swallow, but challenging it head on is probably the best tactic. Maybe team up with the school to see how they would deal with at school, and emulate that at home.
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 thick and fast and this could just be another syptom of a current difficult phase.
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 further avenging? Does anyone have any experience of their kids bullying and then stopping? What made them stop?
Also, should i contact M's parents to apologise? Should we arrange a playdate between them?