Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is My Son Becoming A Bully?

Okay, so he's only eight. But really? I am so tired of saying the same phrases over and over again.

"Treat other people the same way you would like them to treat you."
"Put yourself in his shoes. How would you feel if someone did that to you?"
"Just because someone else does something bad doesn't give you permission to do it, too."
"I want to be proud of you and this behavior does not make me proud."
"It's okay to not like someone. You don't have to like everybody. But you must be respectful of them anyway."

There are so many more things I repeat on a daily basis about homework, feeding the dogs, limited computer time, but it is really upsetting me that he doesn't get the above.

It's not that we've seen or heard him be mean to anyone (and he has never been in trouble at school) but he recounts scenarios for me when he gets home. Up until now, I thought it was just my son creating stories of what he wished he could've done or said but didn't. And I get that. We all need our release and I'd rather he do it with me. But yesterday I got a hint (I don't know if it's true because the info was very sketchy) that some of his stories might be true.

So, after weeks of trying it the nice way, yesterday hubby and I laid down the law.

"Here's the deal," we announced. "If we see or hear that you've said or done anything to hurt this boy, we will punish you the likes of which you have never seen."

"Take away the WII?" he asked sheepishly.

"No, honey. Bigger than that. We will take away the WII AND ground you. No playdates, no tv, no computer, no nothing but studying and helping me around the house for two weeks."

I have no idea if this was the "right" thing to do but the words did seem to register.

We will soon know for sure.

FOR FULL DISCLOSURE and to be fair, I have heard that this particular boy often joins in games and then tries to bend the rules, stopping everything and whining that no one else is playing fair. My son is not the only one complaining about this boy but it is my son I care about most. Also, this boy is known to kick or shove when he doesn't get his way, so I get how on a daily basis this can be annoying. I have told my son that he should talk to the coaches about this boy but he tells me the coaches tell them to settle things on their own. (Hmmm...Note to self: May have to talk with the coaches.)

** OH, AND A FUNNY SIDE TO THIS STORY: Here is a scene on the play yard as my boy recounted it for me. It gave me a chuckle.

The other boy was acting out and making my boy and his friends mad:

My boy: "What's your issue?"
Other boy: "Nothing."
My boy: "You've got anger management problems."

When did this become playground lingo???


MIT Mommy said...

Sigh. My oldest is six and in first grade. And, of course, I correct him constantly (that's what moms do!) but it is tricky to decide how much to become involved.

I actually had another mother acuse my son of being a bully earlier in the year. I was horrified, as you can imagine. As far as I can tell, my son was just standing his own ground (no blows, just words) but it is still upsetting. I had been trying to foster a relationship between our two boys, but my son finally told me that he didn't want to play with the other kid. So, they don't play together anymore.

I think at these ages they are still learning a lot of social skills. I think its awesome that your son was able to use the words "anger management." Anyway, he's right! I think most of those anger management classes are about handling things that should have been worked out on the playground, but they never found the right "tools".

Ooops. I should stop. Good luck.

slouching mom said...

Anger management problems! LOL!

I think you said the right things, FWIW.

Manic Mommy said...

Do you think that part of it might be he's just not being bullied (manipulated) by the other kid?

I don't want my children to be bullies but I do want them to stand up for themselves.

Ugh, it's so hard!

I'm stumbling with HRH now as well. For different reasons.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Wow. My almost 10 year old stepdaughter is a total bully. She is mean, bossy and has no friends. Sometimes she plays with two neighbors, but only when they have no other friends available. Its heartbreaking because I know she could be such a good kid, but she doesn't get the whole "treat people right" philosophy either. Then she complains that the other kids are mean because they won't play with her. Its awful. I thought childhood was rough, but trying to mold someone else's childhood is way worse.

phd in yogurtry said...

I agree with your plan. When kids are being taught antisocial behavior, it's important that his family life lay down the law. Just so you let him know you will listen to his side of things, allowing for the possibility that the other boy may be generating a lot of the tension here.

Fragrant Liar said...

Yeah, my granddaughter can often be heard saying things like: Nana, that's imperpopiate, or Nana, I'm not familiar with cleaning my room. Kids. :)

the mama bird diaries said...

anger management problems... funny.

you sound like great parents.

Vodka Mom said...

I LOVE the playground conversation!!

and yes, it's time to kick some ass.

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