DS keeps bullying other children.(23 Posts)
Hi MN, long-time lurker here. However, now I need some advice.
I would like to start off by saying that I haven't been the best mother in the world. I have made many mistakes and have done things I shouldn't have done. I allowed my son's abusive father live with us for 6 months, after the first violent incident. He was just 3 though, so I'm unaware how much that may have effected him.
He is now 10 (year 5)... He was bullied throughout year 3-4 and the school did their best and so did I, but someone new would just start name-calling. He had a condition with his thumb when he was born, so his hand had to be reconstructed and it doesn't look 'normal'.
We got him counselling and he had CBT under CAMHS. He has now began to bully. The school and I have tried everything, CAMHS is trying, but my son makes promises to us all that he just doesn't keep. It's getting silly now.
I removed him from his old school, I did not want him to keep upsetting certain children and I thought a move might help him stop with the bullying. He has started up again and now has to be taught outside of the headteacher's office, he isn't allowed out to play either.
He will 'accidentally' trip children up when he goes into the dinner hall (this is supervised), etc.
I do discipline him, I just find it harder to do so as he is on medication for depression and I'd hate to be the cause for him to go back into his old habits.
Gosh OP, has he said WHY he does it to start with as opposed to just Sorry I know this is wrong won't do it again? If you know his reasoning it might be easier to address.
There is a little boy who does similar things at one of my dcs schools. I know not what you are asking but it might help to know while it does cause upset nobody thinks he is a "bad boy" or his parents are rubbish or anything like that. All children need help finding their way and a good school will have a robust plan to help him.
I'm sorry it's a struggle.
Oh, how horrible for you, GreenMoon. No advice, but just to say that your son unfortunately probably does remember his father's violence, my nephew remembered that sort of thing that happened at that age. He was also a very difficult child, but my DSIS managed to find a really good family therapist who changed everything around.
What help is he getting at the moment, apart from the anti-depressants? What is your son's behaviour like at home, and in smaller group situations, for example at play dates or after school activities or with other children in your extended family? Can he relate normally to other children in less stressful/ more favourable conditions? Academically, how is he getting on?
Presumably both schools have tried disciplining him for antisocial behaviour. If this was going to work, it would have done so already, so stop blaming yourself. It sounds as if a combination of being bullied, plus mental health issues such as low self-esteem have prevented your son from learning how to relate normally to other children. It's hard to say from your post whether there might be anything else going on - is there any suspicion that he might have issues with impulse control, for example?
In fact my first impression from your post was that both of you suffer from low self-esteem With that in mind, I'm not sure AIBU is the right place for this post as it won't be long before people are holding you responsible for your son's problems.
Would it help for him to take up some sort of sporting activity? Self defence type things? There seems to be some good ones out there that teach confidence, discipline, trust, respect, safety and helping others. Perhaps if he felt more confidence in himself, he would be less likely to bully?
My ds went through a few weeks of being a bully at school. He pulled someone's hair, and tripped someone up etc. The teacher had a quiet word with me about her concerns, and I was quite firm with ds that this stops now. I made him apologise to all the kids he'd been nasty to, and I haven't heard any more about it since.
He has however recently been a victim of bullying, and quite serious incidents where he was ganged up on, and another child put their hands around his throat. I then had to go up to the school and kick their arses into gear to make sure that ds got an apology, and that it was all dealt with properly.
So I've seen it from both sides, and bullying is unacceptable either way.
It sounds as though your ds has deeper issues which will need to be addressed thoroughly. I hope that he can get the support he needs to be guided out of bullying.
My dd was bullied by someone who sounds similar. We took her out of the school, unfortunately he was asked to leave his old school 6 months later. The managed move resulted in him going to dds new school where he hospitalised her was charged with assault when he was 11.
He left her alone after that apart from once where he threatened her when she passed at secondary school. The school policeman reminded him that bullying was verbal and if he spoke to her again we could have him charged with harassment.
At secondary, he was moved to seclusion as he has attacked other children and has now been permanently excluded. They only started secondary in September.
Thank you for actually caring and trying to do something about your sons behaviour. It does make a huge difference.
So promises to you and/or CAMHS isn't working. What else have you and they tried? It's difficult to give advice without knowing what they have done.
Is your son aware he is above the age of criminal responsibility? Dds bully and his parents had been under the impression that it was 13. They were all massively shocked when he was charged.
Does he understand where this could lead? That it could end up with him being charged, removed from school and put in a PRU or similar?
Personally I don't think primary schools always deal with this issue well. Why is he in seclusion? To keep him away from the kids or as punishment?
In my experience Secondary come down much harder on it. Is he moving to secondary this year?
Your poor ds. He's had so much to contend with in his young life and he appears to have formed the erroneous opinion that attack if the best form of defence but, of course, he ends up hurting himself far more than he hurts others.
You've said "he has had CBT under CAHMS". How many sessions did he have, what involvement did you have in these sesssions, and what tools/suggestions were you each given to enable him to progress in manageable steps so that he can more easily control his thinking and, therefore, his behaviour?
What 'discipline' do you impose on him?
Firstly for facing up to this. No easy thing to have to deal with. I wonder if your DS is using the bullying as a way of establishing his position in a new school. Does he do any activities outside of school? I wonder if something with a very structured activity and a strong behavioural element might help him to learn to make friends within a structured environment. Maybe something like Sea Cadets (he is old enough) or cubs/ scouts?
"he now has to be taught outside the headmaster's office, he isn't allowed out to play either"
How can he come back from that? it is like perpetual indoors school suspension, I would question if segregation of a 10 year old should be allowed ongoing at his school.
What about trying a Steiner school or other more less punitive school environment where he can slowly build his confidence up through their rewards for positive behaviour. The current school system does not allow for young children who have 'lost their way" and are on the defensive, and tend to be reactive and unsure how to make any friends and turn things around. I know he has pushed other away hrough his bullying, but he will have felt very lonely along the way, and unsure how to turn things around and make freinds, and build postive trusting relationships.
Make no mistake he will be feeling terribly isolated by his current treatment at the school. Is there a school psychologist or counsellor who can visit the school and advocate for your young boy?
Is he looking for attention ? Sometimes even negative attention is better than none. Have you spoken to him about why he does it?i'm sure you will have. You need to be really strict with him at home. No shouting just quietly remove iPad, computer, games etc. check what he is watching as violent games or films breed violence. Kids act out what they have seen. If you go back on your word it will mean he has won. You need to be strong and not give in. When he does what is required he can have 1 hour but then take it back.
I agree with looking for after school activity. Something with discipline and control of the body.
Try and spend more time with him yourself even going for a walk,painting or craft activity he may be needing more attention. This is not meant as a critism but this age group have hormones and therefore need a bit more attention. They veer between being a child and wanting to grow up. Make sure you look at several schools for Secondary and spend time discussing the changes.
poor Kid, good on you for staying on side. You must be totally exasperated.
Do he have any mates? or has he alienated them all?
Is there a plan? they cant keep him in isolation for ever, Asmuch as he needs to learn the 3R's, surely he need to socialise appropriately a well- what are hey doing to address this?
Do you think, deep down, something is troubling him that he cannot express?
He sounds desperately unhappy. I am wondering if the bullying behaviour is more of a sign of poor social and emotional skills and low self-esteem. I once asked ds1 why he had hit another child and he said it was so he would be friends with him honestly not comprehending that this would have the reverse effect. Rather than coming down heavy with the punishments (after all this strategy does not seemed to have worked) I would recommend you and school try to teach him what to do (rather than telling him what not to do) in social situations e.g. role play asking someone to play or talk with him. I would also try and increase his self-esteem - sounds like he is always in trouble and you can totally get into a vicious circle with this. We were told by an EP to praise for being and aim for seven goods to one bad thing (very difficult to achieve). I would also ask CAMHS to investigate the possibility of underlying causes for the behaviour. Given the amount of seclusion school is implementing I wonder if it would be worth asking for an EHCP assessment - no child should have to be educated in isolation and this shows he needs extra support and possibly a more specialised placement.
Positive reinforcement (accentuate the good) is a good plan. I did some googling in the wee small hours about this (at last a use for insomnia!) and that did seem to be the constant theme.
Outside activities take the pressure off school relationships. Structured organisations like scouts and cadets give their members a place in the hierarchy without that having to be fought for. They are also IME very strict about bullying so consequences tend to be very swift. Also they are good at children/young people especially boys.
What is your DS good at or interested in? Is that something you can use to give positive feedback to him?
Please do come back OP.
Hi all, thanks for your very detailed replies. CAMHS have tried a few things - he sees a psychologist/psychiatrist each month, but that's mainly for medication purposes... His CBT was for his depression and behaviour associated with that.
Scouts looks fab and I think he would like it, but it worries me how he would respond to the other children. I know the school is just doing their best to protect the other children and I completely agree, I was fuming when kids were picking on my DS and would hate for parents and their children to feel the same. DS has written apology cards with his therapist (which is what he has, atm. The do arty things, etc.) and he gives them to the children and says he is sorry. However, he just does it all over again
Boys Brigade looks good it's just the worries of him upsetting more children.
Lots of discipline and I try my best to do positive reinforcement too, but I never know what to praise him for... He loves to bake, so I definitely praise him for that - he's a right little chef!
I take his games, tv, computer time, going out on his bike, etc. away, but he just cries and says things like 'but Mum, I don't mean to make people hate me' and it pulls on my heart strings, I don't give in, but I then have to go away from him. He will then start with the 'I'm not good enough, I don't want to be alive' and it's difficult because it sets all that off, so his Key Worker encourages me to sit down with him and tell him what he has done wrong, etc. and maybe go out on a walk and talk about his feelings/choices, instead of taking things away, but then the school says I'm not doing my best and then the children's parents say I'm not doing my best and it's just so hard
I'm surprised more people haven't commented! You've been given some great advice though! I have nothing to add, sorry. I wish you all the best
Praise the small things too.
Thank you for coming when I called. Well done for sitting nicely at the table. Good job on that piece of homework.
I would try and engage him into everyday life - helping with cooking, shopping, meal planning, washing, laying/clearing the table - where you can show him positive praise for the right behaviours. Given that he is clearly struggling I wouldn't punish him for not helping. Just say something along the lines of, oh I was looking forward to doing this together, or somesuch.
You need to put advice from his medical professionals ahead of what school and other parents say. If punishment was going to work, wouldn't it have worked by now?
His self esteem sounds very low
Given that he seems to "know" intellectually that what he is doing is wrong, it may be that he has difficulties controlling impulses and emotions. I do wonder whether there is something else going on, this sort of poor self-esteem combined with poor impulse control is common for eg in children with ADHD (I'm not suggesting it's that, there isn't enough info in your posts, but it does seem possible to me that his medical professionals are missing something).
I am sorry your DS has had depression, I would expect further counselling as well as medication to be useful in this instance.
The most important thing that you can do is to tell DS how much you love him but dislike this behaviour. Praise any thoughtfulness or good manners and tell him how much you enjoy spending time with him. If he gets a name for bullying he may have begun to think he has to live up to it. Teach him how to win, and how to fail. Keep being consistent and explain that actions have consequences.
As other posters have said, he has been bullied himself, now he is testing his powers. Part of it is probably defensive, "Better that I get in first before they get me". The adults are disciplining him but it will be his peers who decide whether or not to accept him. Maybe so far the other pupils haven't retaliated physically but he is treading on thin ice. Sometimes we have to accept that we’ve let people down then learn how to apologise to them.
After school activities sound small, but they have a big impact on helping your child fit in.
You sound amazing OP. The above poster is right. Praise the tiny things. Well done for putting your shoes on, tidying the books away, colouring in nicely, saying something kind, bringing in your plate to the kitchen. Etc. etc. and say thank you a lot!
The school need to put in a plan to help him longer time. Time spent playing board games with a member of staff and a couple of kids. (Could be maths!) Help him to manage talking to others, sharing, how to react if they say something he doesn't like.
How many of the incidents are out of anger? Does he need help with that? Does he generally have poor impulse control?
And you are doing an awesome job.
If you think that say Scouts or Boys Brigade would be enjoyable why not get in contact. If you explain a bit about the problems your DS is having you may well find that they are willing to let him have a go.
The advantage with these groups is that you dont have to do anything to fit in. You are a member so you fit in. The uniform, the arcane rules, the activities all give a sense of belonging.
BBfK - bounce back for kids. A play therapy course for children who have witnessed domestic violence.
Lots of love and affirmation from you.
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