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DS 7 fighting at school

(11 Posts)
stinkypjs Wed 08-Mar-17 22:24:45

My DS was caught fighting for the second time. He is a quiet boy, non-physically in every way (apart from this). He has never physically fought with anyone else as far as I know (so has physically fought with this child twice). The other boy too is very quiet and placid. I don't know what went on yet but I do not find this acceptable and am seeking guidance for how to deal with it. I am not looking to place blame, as violence is not a solution ever, but I do know the other boy can be a bit domineering, but no more than any 6 year old, I think (E.g. "It's my boys club and I'm in charge and you must do what I say"). My DS takes himself very seriously, and will sulk whenever he feels someone is making fun of him. Last time he was caught fighting, I told him I would take away his Lego so intend to remove it for two weeks, no tablet time for two weeks, and I want him to write out six ways he deal with issues in the playground without fighting in the future. I also intend to hear what happened, but to make it clear fighting is not a solution for anything. Does this sound ok?

BigWeald Thu 09-Mar-17 11:34:11

Hm, I'd just point out that if fighting is so totally out of character, for both boys, then I'd start at trying to establish what happened.

I think it is a possibility that your DS did not 'choose' to fight, over any other possible approach to the situation, but that it was to an extent out of his control. He knows that fighting is against the rules, and he usually tries, and is successful at, not breaking the rules. So why not this time? Perhaps he tried, but failed this time. It could be behaviour as a response to something underlying. Some big emotions, and he was no longer able to control his reaction. In which case I'd try to address those underlying emotions. And, if he was not able to find a different way to deal with them/the situation, so why expect him to find and write out six different ways now? Perhaps you need to help him find different ways to deal with it.

Or it could be that he did 'choose' - that he basically figured, I want to try this out, see what happens. My similarly aged boy whose behaviour is seen as exemplary at school, has recently really tried 'flexing his muscles' at home, testing the boundaries, pushing the limits. I never used to have to do much in the way of 'parenting' because he always behaved so well, now suddenly I have to step it up!
In this second scenario, what we do is try to have clear, spelled-out rules and consequences. E.g. we never did have to have rules/consequences regarding name calling because it would never have occurred to DS to name call. So now we are in the process of establishing all sorts of rules/expectations and spelling out all sorts of consequences (we try to stick with 'natural' consequences when possible). And sticking to them.
We are also trying to get DS to understand the reasons for the rules, because ultimately we'd like him to stick to them because he wants to, rather than because he wants to keep/earn x privilege.

So in your case that would be a chat (or a series of chats) about why you expect him to find other solutions to conflict rather than fighting. What is wrong with fighting. Is it just about sticking to the school rules, or is there a deeper reason for not fighting. What are consequences of fighting. Etc. In addition to clearly spelled out rules about not fighting, and clearly spelled out consequences. Don't just apply the consequences now, but spell out to him what the consequences will be if he is caught fighting again.

TeethDrama Thu 09-Mar-17 11:40:56

I think you need to find out exactly what happened. Was it in the playground or in class? I agree a punishment is necessary but two weeks or no lego, no tablet plus writing is over the top imo given that it's out of character for him.

I have 3 dcs and teach them that if they gave a problem with another child, to ask the teacher or playground assistant for help before they get involved physically. Some other kids are intent on winding up or being mean and trying to talk about it the problem just won't work before it turns physical. Teaching to walk away is also good.

At 6/7, this sort of thing does go on. It's an age thing and also they are establishing positions in their peer group. It generally gets better at 7/8/9 as their negotiation skills improve. I wouldn't worry overly yet, but do find out the trigger and facts as the first point of call.

TeethDrama Thu 09-Mar-17 11:45:49

Also, keep an eye out for bullying. I was picked on at primary school but my mum took the attitude it must have been my fault and would punish without finding out the facts so I often felt marginalised at school and then again at home. It meant I didn't tell her about the bullying because she didn't seem to want to find out exactly what went on, just that if there was trouble I would be in trouble with her. I hardly confided in her after 8 and still don't as an adult. Your dc needs to know you love them and want to help things go more smoothly at schools don't make him feel you're not on his side, even if he has a share in the blame. Teach him how to put it right or avoid situations instead.

stinkypjs Thu 09-Mar-17 16:31:13

Thanks for your replies, it's great to see suggestions. The school are taking this very seriously so I was completely unsure what to do about it! I spoke to my DS. He said that the other boy said he was going to be the king when he grew up, my son said he wasn't, the other boy punched him as he was angry by his response, my son returned the punch. So, it does seem like it may have been playground frustrations but do want him to know to walk away when things go out of control a bit. I think I'm just disappointed - I had thought the threat of no Lego would be enough! But I will take your suggestions and talk to him about it, explain why fighting is wrong etc. It was a bit out of the blue!! I too didn't confide in my parents so I certainly don't want that to happen. Thanks again for your suggestions!

ScrapThatThen Thu 09-Mar-17 16:39:04

My friends with boys at primary school told me it is very turbulent while boys establish the 'pecking order' of their social group, then it all calms down a bit. I have girls, so no idea if this is true. But it does sound like 'dominance' or being the best is an issue for both boys.

TeethDrama Thu 09-Mar-17 23:32:58

Teaching appropriate answers can help too. We have to remember our children aren't born knowing what to do and say in all situations. Teach diplomacy as it's non-situation specific. A variation of "everyone's entitled to their own opinion" is a useful general standby, as is walking away, changing the subject or asking a question instead of giving an answer. Makes the annoyed one stop to think and can neutralise a situation. Being proactive by anticipating situations with your ds and sharing tour experiences as the best way to react to annoying or difficult situations is giving him tools for the future. Be kind as well as firm on rules and boundaries.

TeethDrama Thu 09-Mar-17 23:38:29

Also using yourself as an example is good e.g. "When I felt annoyed with someone at work, I did xyz". It's good to model examples of good behaviour as they can relate to it from a distance rather than "you should do this... you should do that" which can sound critical after a while.

llangennith Thu 09-Mar-17 23:54:33

Whatever the problem two weeks is much too long to continue a punishment at his age. One day is quite long enough. You want him to think about his actions not focus on the punishment. Punishments should be swift and short.
Being overly strict doesn't make your child become 'good'. It makes them rebellious.
Talk to him, and more importantly, LISTEN to him.

stinkypjs Fri 10-Mar-17 11:44:44

Good advice here, thanks!! Re: punishment, the school was (overly) strict when they rang me hence I leapt to thinking about suitable punishment (but have only gone through with taking Lego away). I will give it back after the weekend. The school really laid it on thick - I had the impression they were beating each other when it seemed less serious when we compared the stories of the two boys. I have to attend a meeting after school today with the teacher, the other boy and his mother which seems overkill, especially days later from the incident. I know right now that this will achieve nothing and both boys will clam up - the point has been made. I feel sorry for them both now. Thanks for all your help - I wish children came with a manual!

TeethDrama Fri 10-Mar-17 20:32:43

How did the meeting go? Obviously you need to be seen supporting the school and its authority, but back at home you can work on the "softer" elements of the situation with your ds in a "let's see how we can avoid this happening again" kind of way. Your ds is going to need your love and support over the years to come, that doesn't mean condoning or excusing his behaviour but helping with techniques of conflict resolution in advance so they have a wider range of responses to choose from at trying times.

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