To ask for advice on bullying of 4 year old(29 Posts)
DS started school this year, he's gone to school with two nursery 'friends' who often used to tell him to 'go away' and 'stop following them'. DS is a very gentle, quiet boy, he's a bit behind with language skills, he also lacks confidence and is unable to stand up for himself despite our best attempts. He does martial arts, football and rugby which he loves but doesn't enjoy the parts which involve confrontation and the same applies on the playground - he finds it very hard to deal with either physical or verbal confrontation and just freezes.
Today we were at a birthday party of one of his school friends. There is a group of 3 other 'friends' that he always talks about so I was keen to see how they interacted all together. As soon as the two from nursery saw him they said 'let's run away from DS' and he chased them around thinking it was fun but after a while it was clear that he kept running after them and it was never going to be anyone else's turn. When he finally caught up with one of them he hit him repeatedly. DS didn't react and just shielded his face, after this I took him inside, they were in the playground at this point...then he wanted to play again in the playground after about ten minutes so we went outside again, the same boy hit him so I went up to him and said 'you don't hit, do you understand!!!!!?' He went back inside and looked upset, his mum asked what's wrong and I think he told her but I didn't stick around to see the outcome...
They went back outside to play and I watched again, this boy had all his eyes on me and was trying to push DS but saw I was watching so didn't. The other two boys from nursery were teasing DS, waving to him and saying 'to come play' and then running away.
I feel so so fucking angry and sad. There was one other boy in the playground, all the girls just stick together and don't play with the boys so I encouraged DS to play with this other boy..the other boy was on the slide and said to DS 'go inside! Can you hear me, I've told you four times to go away!!!, You can't come on the slide.' DS just stood and looked at him.
After the party, DH asked why DS didn't tell this boy to give him a turn, DS said he was waiting for the boy to go down the slide, and seemed happy that he waited him out and didn't give in and got a turn on the slide eventually...I guess in that way he 'won' but I hate the fact DS will never say anything, it feels like he's just walked all over.....
Background to this is I was bullied for years as a child, earliest memories of school were wandering around the playground and begging children to play and everyone saying 'this is a three player game' or 'this is a two player game', any number that didn't include me. The social exclusion carried on for years and although I had one friend in primary school and one in secondary, I got to university and was completely unable to socialise in a group. To the point where I drank to passing out in order to tolerate parties, and suffered from depression...I got in a relationship with a complete wanker you used me for sex/cheated on me etc and I ended up suicidal.
My parents also experienced bullying/exclusion as children. They are both painfully shy in social situations and neither of them has any friends at all to this day. As an only child, I used to feel terribly lonely, on my 18th birthday I spent it with my parents and wanted to die as I thought I'd never 'fit' in this world...I now have a lovely DH, some wonderful friends I've met since having DS who I see about three or four times a week, I've never felt so complete, BUT I'm terrified that all the things that made me depressed for so long and feel so isolated are happening again to my DS, I don't know how much of this is me projecting, how much is me making it happen by putting my fears onto him. For example, I often ask him 'if anyone has hit him' or 'told him to go away in the playground'. This is awful and I am painfully aware I shouldn't do it, my mum says if he doesn't understand he is being picked on then it doesn't matter. He does seem blissfully unaware of the way he's been treated right now so I don't want to hammer it home, on the other hand I want to know straight away if these things are happening so I can go to the teacher and stop it before it gets out of control, and I'm so paranoid it will get out of control...Please give me some advice on what to do, I can imagine the pathetic-ness of the situation could be comical to some but the truth is years of bullying, shyness, social anxiety and lack of confidence etc can ruin your life. I feel like the cycle wasn't broken with my parents, me (until now) or even my DH who was also badly bullied as a child, how do I break it with DS???
Sorry the message is so long, but had to get it all out! Been crying for the past few hours x
He won't be 'blissfully unaware' really.
The thing is, you had the chance to speak to this child's mother but you didn't take it.
Why is that?
Your child needs to know that when upsetting/bad things happen to him, his mum and dad are going to be the two people who will have his back.
Is there any way you can speak to the mother next time you see her?
Worra I thought if I talked to her I might start crying as I felt so emotional and also I thought it might ruin any chance of the kids being friends and things getting better if I make an issue out of the situation with her....I also don't want to be playground gossip, and the 'crazy' mum as I think this mum might just brush off what's happening as 'normal teasing' so I don't know how effective talking to her will be...
But you are right, maybe showing DS his parents have his back in a situation like this by talking to the mother will make him feel reassured...
Well I think you did brilliantly for not calling those boys nasty little shits, that's so horrible of them.
I feel so sad for you and your son, it really is hard being a child and a parent sometimes.
Yes to speaking to the teachers and making them aware of the situation, facts only without projection. Hopefully they will be able to give you a better idea to how he is in school and how he socialises with his peers.
Wishing you both all the best.
This is tricky, because your own history is definitely making you see this as much worse than it is. However, some of the other children do seem to be treating your son unkindly, and he may be a little behind them in social skills, which you can help with.
Does he have one-to-one play dates with friends from school and elsewhere? Do you bring him out and about with friends with same-age children? These are really good ways of building connections and confidence.
I would also have a word with the school and see what they propose (eg setting him up to play with children other than the two who are running away from him).
Please don't be catastrophising - it is early days yet and he sounds very level headed!
Can you arrange one on one play dates, with the other mums? That way if anything happens it will be right in front of them, and you can say something there and then if they don't. It might help DD establish friends one to one of he hangs back in group situations. I think you have to be very careful not to burden him with the weight of you and your parents too. Out of interest did they tell you when you were young that they were excluded and bullied?
There’s a very good book I read which sounds like it could give you some strategies it’s called inside out parenting how by dr Holan Liang who is a parent and a psychiatrist x I would speak to the school if I were you and also definately speak to the parents
Your message made me so sad for you. I completely understand your fears, but I think you are projecting to some extent. This is completely understandable given what you’ve been through, but if you’re not careful you will create anxiety in yourself and your DS that will make interactions more difficult.
When you’ve been bullied (I have, so really understand your fears) there’s a tendency to think that if you’re tough and ‘stand up for yourself ‘ you beat the bully. This isn’t helped by all the films and stories (and anecdotes) about bullies being silenced by a brilliant riposte. So I think you’re hoping your son will ‘stand up for himself ‘ and things will get better.
In fact, what I’ve come to understand is that this is just imitating the bully. It empowers them by implying that their model of interaction is something to imitate, and it means you play by their rules, in effect.
It’s actually a far stronger response to do what your son’s doing—eg ignore it, play a game as though the possible bullying element isn’t there, fend off or avoid violence rather than retaliate, ignore silly comments and wait his turn. He sounds really wonderful and he’s clearly confident in himself, all credit to you!
If you look at something like ‘the secret life of four year olds’ you’ll see how fast relationships change at that age and how they’re trying out social skills and different roles—often imitating adults (sometimes bullies)! These children’s personalities aren’t set in stone, and they may yet be good friends to him. You being there may also change their interactions, especially if you intervene.
Do chat to his teacher to check—but please don’t worry so much. You’ve done brilliantly and so will he.
You should speak to the parents, and the school teacher, my little boy had a similar problem with 2 boys slightly older and I immediately spoke to one of the parents who had her little boy apologize, ds is very similar in that he is shy and was speech delayed, same age, I can say hand on heart he does know that these kids are being mean to him, he might not fully understand but he will feel it. I also know how you feel as it kills you to see kids being mean but it is your job to nip it in the bud, you have to find your back bone and show your son that it is unacceptable to be treated like that. By not saying anything you are letting him think it's ok or normal to be bullied
I just re read my post and it comes across as really harsh, I don't mean it in a harsh way I just wish my parents had done more when I was being bullied at school.
Don't take my post as me being a bitch
I think that the best thing you can do is help your son with his social skills. Invite friends over and help him play one to one with children his own age. Watch them play and intervene when necessary to help him through the tricky bits.
Have your tried to play act these situations?
You be the good guy and DH be mean? And then act out the best way of dealing with it?
DH can I have a sweet please?
No go away!
That’s really unkind DH and you need to learn to share
Thank you so much for your messages, there is a lot of good advice here which I will take on, thank you.
Cheryl I didn't think you were being a bitch at all. I want honest opinions. It's hard to see the situation objectively so I appreciate everyone's thoughts x
I really feel for you it’s a horrid feeling of powerlessness when you feel you can’t help your child with friendship issues.
Practically wise, do you or can you develop any connections with the other parents? Everyone hates it and sometimes it feels a little forced but if you suck it up and dive in there you may find that play dates and such will come a bit easier.
If there are kids openly behaving like that towards your son there will be other problems in the class, he won’t be the only one. It’s also unnatural for the girls to keep away from the boys like that at this age. Try the teacher, unapologetically but not angrily and they may implement strategies to help.
Honestly though other parents are your best bet, you may find people who are just as frustrated as you and together you might be able to make some positive changes.
Thanks whisky It's a bit of a tricky situation as he's in a split age class, he's in a group of 20 new kids, 10 from the previous reception are now in reception again, to make 30. Out of the total of 30, 12 are boys, 6 from the previous reception who have already made bonds and 6 new ones including DS, two from his nursery, him, 1 other who has bonded with the two from the nursery, 1 who does his own thing and another 1 who is shy and sweet, I'm thinking to have a playdate with this other child who is shy and sweet...maybe he can play with him in the playground instead of this group who aren't truly friends...
He does have playdates, maybe one a week/one a fortnight..and is much better one-to-one then in groups...
Shy and sweet boy sounds perfect to start off with. I think it's time to start encouraging some nicer friends, and to ask for the school's help with that too. Really hard in a split age class
I dont think you should think of this as bullying as I really don't think children of this age are capable of doing this sort of thing with the aim of hurting someone else. They will just be imitating behaviour they themselves have been at the end of or have seen or experimenting with how other children react. I have a nearly 6yo dd and this is certainly the way I present it when she complains of things her friends have said and done, and I frequently see her shout at or grab at her friends in ways that they don't seem too happy about! Not really any advice except please don't see your child as being bullied or victimised, this will just be the result of his social skills being slightly behind these other children, how you react now will certainly influence how he comes to see it.
I tell my dd a good friend is someone who is kind to her. If someone treats her unkindly they are not a friend. She should distance herself and find someone nice to play with her. I also say anyone can have a bad day so if a friend is not nice one day you can give them another chance but someone being constantly mean is not a friend.
My ds was similar but also different at that age, he has autism (definitely not trying to suggest your ds has asd). I took my ds to lots of clubs, activities, softplay, parties and watched his every move. I I intervened where I had to and always took ds to the side to explain how he should have dealt with a situation. We did role play at home so he could practice how to deal with situations in the school playground. I then wrote these role plays as comic strips and we would read it together. When ds was 7 or 8 I was still taking him out of football class to tell him how he should be dealing with suffice situations. Now he is 10 he is brilliant. Very sensible and seems to be able to stand up to kids in the playground on the rare occasion he has to.
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