How to handle bullying?

@SViswan (12051)
India
July 9, 2011 11:00pm CST
My 10 year old has a few friends in the apartment complex that we stay at. He plays with them every evening. One child in particular (who is 2 years older than he is and our immediate neighbour) is particulary mean to my son. To my son's credit, he hasn't hit back or said mean things back to him. I know I wouldn't be able to have this amount of patience. But last week, I could sense that my son was getting more and more angry with this behaviour especially when the hitting increased. I advised him to hit back and I would handle it if his mom complained. But then I felt I shouldn't be encouraging this kind of thing and my son and I spoke to the boy's mother. Since then not only has my son been teased for 'busting' him...yesterday...he said all sorts of mean things to my son and called him names (idiot,retard,useless...etc)...all in the presence of my 4 year old (who is the best friend of the boy's younger brother). The boy even told my older son that his younger brother is much better than he is because he plays sports (my older son is into music while my younger one is into sports).And I've seen that this older boy likes to play with my younger son and not my older one (which is fine as long as he is not bullying either one of them). After yesterday's incident, my younger one refused to play with the boy who was mean to his brother...but I think something needs to be done about this kind of behaviour by kids. I don't know what? My husband says not to let our son play with such mean kids...but that would be like punishing our son for something someone else did! Any suggestions on what I can do? My mind is boiling right now and I think a slap for the boy is needed (but of course, I wouldn't be doing that and am trying to not let my child ego overpower my adult ego :-P)
6 people like this
12 responses
@emarie (5444)
• United States
10 Jul 11
I have a son around your son's age. I was always scared of bullying. I first have a talk with your son. He's old enough now for you to fully explain why people could bully other people. Let him know he's not at fault and these people do this because they don't know how to express their own feelings. For the other boy, the most you can do is let his mother know. Your husband is right to keep that boy away from BOTH of your kids. I would do the same. To avoid them thinking their being 'punished' you need to explain it to them. Parents shouldn't worry too much about 'will they understand' because our kids understand a lot more then we give them credit for. You younger son is proof. He knew that boy was bad and he chose not to play with him anymore because how he treated his brother. Once you know you're child understands the concept of why people bully and what he should do, you can ask him if he can enroll in a martial arts class. I'm enrolling mine in Taekwondo. Finding a good teacher will help him deal with any anger he might feel when placed in this situation. I won't teach him to hit other people, but instead teach him how NOT to get hit himself. If your son would to block or dodge a hit another boy threw at him, it would be better then both of them getting into a fist fight. Now days, some schools don't care who threw the first punch, just that it was thrown. I child who can avoid the hits and walk away, I feel is the better person. We shouldn't teach our kids to be too passive, but know how to defend themselves. But the best thing is to keep the line of communication open, and to keep observing your child's behavior. You NEED to be aware of the subtle changes in your children in the case they don't/can't talk to you, you can see if something is wrong. Keep talking to your son about his problems with the other boy. Get him to keep talking, because if he keeps it in, it will just simmer in his mind and then he would be in greater danger of blowing up and doing serious harm to the other boy.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
11 Jul 11
Oh it wasn't verbal teasing at all. That is something my son can handle even when he feels a little hurt. I let him vent and he is fine. This boy was downright mean....he called him all sorts of names and was spewing venom. As I said...even I would have found it difficult to deal with it as an adult (my son has witnessed 2 incidents when I was able to keep my cool and walk away when 2 people where yelling and shouting at me. Guess I set an example then. I came home and vented my anger by speaking out loud. And stay away from these kind of people). The boy was so mean that I really feel that something needs to be done and ignoring alone will not work in this case. Taekwondo is a serious consideration :-) I'm just waiting for my husband to get back home for us to discuss this option.
@emarie (5444)
• United States
12 Jul 11
well I guess you already know that sometimes you can't avoid people being d*cks. we can't control other peoples children no matter how much we try to, but parenting in general is hard and we know it's not always possible in certain situations. I don't know what exactly that kid could say, but even if it was yelling, I think your son should be able to handle it. And of course the best example our kids have are us. They will do what they see us do. My husband thinks that as long as your son is in a loving environment at home, he should be able to get through everything and grow up well rounded as well. Good Luck to you and I hope things get better.
@emarie (5444)
• United States
11 Jul 11
I've dealt with verbal teasing before and I know it can be hard, especially for a kid. sadly, it's just something kids will do and of course as parents we want to protect our children from everything. In my case, it led me to low self-esteem and I know I didn't tell my mother anything. One of the first defenses for this is to make sure he understands that they're just 'words' and they shouldn't be able to hurt him. It's an old school defense but its one of the easiest to say. If he can build up his confidence and have the understanding that people who verbally bully someone else have more issues they're dealing with and they're trying to make themselves feel better by causing pain to other people, it shouldn't bother him that much. If he doesn't show any effect from it, it should dim down. I don't want to say he should act a little cocky, but it might help in the situation. Of course the old childhood sayings "I'm rubber you're glue.." and "sticks & stones..." can help him gain the confidence he needs to just ignore the other child's responses. But again, making sure he can come to you and get the frustration off his chest when he needs to like if something really hurts him is good. let him know it's okay to cry when he feels hurt, but we also can't 'coddle' our children too much because they WILL have to deal with similar situations when they're adults. As adults, we sometimes do the same things and children do, just in a different 'grown up' way. Oh, and a good Taekwondo master will be able to teach about mental strength as well as physical.
@ladysakurax (1161)
• Canada
10 Jul 11
When i was a child, there was a guy twice my size who was bullying me. He would hit me when the teacher is facing the blackboard and he would push me after class. When I told my mom about it, she said to fight back and that's what i did afterwards. The outcome doesn't matter wether who wins but I felt much better because something wrong was being done to me and I took control of it. Now as a grown up, I am not bullied anymore. However, I met many kinds of people. There are this kind of people who are genuinely kind, there are those who will use their power and status to walk over you, there are people who will take advantage of you or come to you when they need help only, and the list goes on. When I was able to get out from bullying, i promised myseld to not let anyone hurt myself. Your son should use his mouth and fist (if necessary) to defend himself and his own self esteem, and maybe his own family later on. That mean boy needs to taste his own medecine in order to understand what pain feels like in order to stop bullying.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
10 Jul 11
Yes, that's what I told my son at first. In fact, the first time I spoke to the boy's mom...the boy said that my son hit back (he tried but didn't get the boy) and I told them that was what I advised my son. His mother agreed that it was okay to hit him if he was hurting my son. She also assured us that it wouldn't happen again. But after that he verbally bullied my son....and the worst part is that they are right next door and the younger boys are 4 months apart and very good friends. He does use his words to defend himself but he cannot bring himself to use the kind of language that the boy uses.
• Canada
10 Jul 11
Well at this point, how does your son wants to handle this situation? That boy seems to be really dirty. Just try to put yourself in his shose and think of how you would react if someone insults you like that. If it was me, I wouldn't say a word and will remove my shoe or flipflop to slap him with it. How about if your son throws him a rock or something? Your son is being invaded. I am soo angry Well, maybe i am a little to extreme but that's how I would handle my things 'as a child'. if it still fails, your husband's advice would be best. You will actually punish the other boy since he will have less friends to play with. I wouldn't let the younger one play with that boy either. just imagine if the younger boy thinks: 'He bullies my brother but my mom lets me play with him. So it must be ok!' No it is not ok. That boy won't have alot of friends when he grows up and that's his consequences. I hope your son problems will be solved soon goodluck
• Canada
11 Jul 11
Yes bullying is horrible. What is more terrible is the mother of that boy who seems passive. Promissing her son to not play with your's is not going to solve the problem...it'll just postpone the problem in my opinion. It's good to hear that he is mature and doesn't go low like the other boy. The fact that the other boys still play with that bully although they all dislike him is proof that this kind of friendship is not genuine and that boy will suffer from that when he will grow up. Your son should play as if nothing hapenned. He didn't do anything wrong so he doesn't need to run away from anything. When that boy uses fool language, your son can just simply tell him: 'I am not going to use fool language because I am not one of your kind. My mother educated me well unlike you...oh and you can tell your mother what I just said.' I bet it will piss him off and if he actually tells his mom, it might actually make her think a little bit. then if he continues to use dirty words, tell your son to just ignore him and to pretend that he is a demented person talking alone. But if he ever hits on your son, he should protect himself. There are a few parts on the body you cannot train: just above the belly button, the ears and the fingers. When i was in high school and some boys with big sizes annoy me, i twist their ears and pull them down slowly and they are very respectful to me afterwards without fighting that much. I can guarantee you that it's very effective and your son can take that chance to tell the boy that shut up because he's annoying. I hope to hears update from your son again and hear that he is not being bullied anymore.
@KrauseHome (36519)
• United States
12 Jul 11
Personally I think you do have a right to be worried, and a lot of the times I think when a child is bullying someone like this, it stems from things that are either going on now in their life, or have happened and usually stem back to their parents or the people that they have hung around with. Personally I would confront the Mom again letting her know what is going on, and if things do not change then I would be cautious of letting the 2 play together. If he does not want to change, I would be wanting to move away if I could as well.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
20 Jul 11
We can't move away. Both of us own apartments here. I spoke to the mother again and both the boys are keeping away from each other right now. The problem will arise when all the boys will want to play a team game and these two refuse to play with each other. The boys will then end up having to choose. The funny thing is that no one in the boy's home is aggressive or loud. It's probably the influence from other kids at school. But then isn't it our duty as adults/parents to guide the kids?
@drannhh (15220)
• United States
13 Jul 11
I see your point, but I agree with your husband on this. It is not so much punishment as protection. Good luck with this!
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
20 Jul 11
Yes, I know. But it's just not fair that our son doesn't get to play with the rest of the boys because of this one boy.He needs the physical exercise and to be out with other kids too. Well, he's busy with other stuff now and they've been keeping away from each other.
@Sreekala (34356)
• India
11 Jul 11
Hello SV, Why can’t you talk to that boy directly? But make sure that the boy does not feel that you are talking for your son. Just call him and asks what is going on between them and hear him patiently (I think you have show some patience here). Once you can talk to him separately and then you can talk to him at the presence of your son too. Once the other boy feels that you are judging them as a third person, he may listen to you and obey your words. I think the task is little difficult as the other boy seems to be disobedient. Personally I won’t encourage interfering the matter in between children, it will be good if they can settle the things by their own. But on serious issues, I think there is no other option left but you have to interfere.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
11 Jul 11
Totally useless to talk to him alone. I also believe that they need to solve their own problems....but when it gets out of hand, I will step in. The week before, two boys of another neighbour had hit my son a couple of times and one caught at his throat too. I understand that they might be irritated and angry but this is not the way to behave. I talked to their mother and then I talked to them too....nicely. Put across how I felt and how they can channelize their anger and irritation. It was handled very well by their parents as well as us. In fact, today I went over to tell the boys that I see the change and I am proud of them. Not that they don't argue and fight with my son...but it's all within limits...and they are fine with it. But this boy is horrible and I can now see why....seeing the way his mother handled the situation. He knows he can get away with anything. He was so so mean with my son 2 days ago that I can't even explain. I talked to the mother who said that she will make sure her son will not play with my son. But that doesn't solve his behaviour.
@Rosa26 (2618)
• United States
27 Sep 11
Well three months after I here responding and hoping the bullying is over. My son was being bully ed in the school and I went to speak with the teacher about that, my son is 13 years old, and after that they move the bully boy to another class. I think that your son have to learn to choose his friends I always tell my son that the life is about decisions and those decisions can determine our future, meaning that he have to choose the right friends, that are not going to hurt him or take him to the wrong way. I don't think that it would be a punishment is you ask your son don't play with the guy that is bothering him, when he goes out to play, I think he can play with his brothers or in the worst of the case alone, or play in the house not outside to avoid the bully guy. I think is a punishment have to deal with that kind of people in our life. I think you did the correct talking with the mom, him and your son, and that there is nothing else that you can do, but I really prefer to stay at home playing another thing, or maybe Wii kinetic in the case that what you want and he wants is to have physical games outside then he can have the same games inside with the Wii. But avoiding the guy is the best that I think he have to do. So about of continue going out to play I wouldn't continue doing that. Let's avoid the buyller let's ignore them, that is the worst punishment that we can give,is the worst feeling that a person can feel, not body likes to be ignore. "Tell me with whom you are and I will tell you who you are"
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@SViswan (12051)
• India
28 Sep 11
Thank you for your response.This happened at the apartment complex and not at school. My son does avoid the boy now...but it gets tough when they are playing team games. My son will not ask the other boys to choose between him and the bully(though the bully has done that often). Even if my son did, the other boys would go along with the bully (even though they do not like him) only because he is good in sports.
@ANTIQUELADY (36440)
• United States
10 Jul 11
I can't stand a bully. I would suggest your son call his bluff & let him see he wouldn't let that mean little bully get by w/anything. I think sometimes drastic matters have to be done. I'd tell my son to stand up to him & get that stuff stopped whatever it took to stop it. I never encouraged my sons to fight but i always told them to stand up for themselves..
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
11 Jul 11
He does try...but my son's a nice guy and can't go down to the level of the boy. He can't be crude and use that kind of bad language even if he tried. But something certainly needs to be done...and I'm trying to work on that. Telling his mom was useless. I talked to her twice and the result of that is that she will make sure that her son will not play with my son.....not that she will stop his bad behaviour!! If it was my son bullying another child, he would be grounded!! I'm glad to say that I'm sure my son would never, ever bully another person and if ever he did hit back, it would be because he couldn't take anymore of the nonsense.
@GemmaR (8517)
10 Jul 11
The sad thing about children is that they can indeed be very cruel, but a lot of the time they don't realise that they're being that way, and they certainly don't understand how much bullying can hurt people. The best thing to do first of all is to make a list on a piece of paper about everything that these children are doing to your son, and see if there's the slightest chance that you're overreacting about it (which you're probably not). Then, take the list to the parents of the other children and show it to them, as they might not have ever realised that this was going on as badly as it is. I know you've spoken to them once, but telling them again what's going on would help. The child is probably embarrassed about the fact that they got caught, and would be better once they'd had the chance to calm down again.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
11 Jul 11
2 weeks back, I spoke to another set of parents. The boys(brothers) were embarrassed that they were caught. The parents handled the situation very well. Now my sons and the boys are playing together and resolving their conflicts on their own (with our guidance on how to tackle issues without getting into physical fights and name calling)...and I'm glad I don't need to get involved in their little problems anymore. The parents and I are still friends too. In this case, I spoke to the mother again yesterday about how the boy was being verbally abusive. Another point I noticed in this case (compared to the previous family) is that this mother didn't want to know all the details of what was happening. She heard out 1-2 sentences and she said she will make sure her son will not play with my son again!!! She didn't say she will stop this behaviour. I also made it clear to her that it's fine but her son cannot ask my son not to play with anyone else either (which was what was happening). When I spoke to the first set of parents, they heard me out. They asked their sons their version of the story...realized what was wrong and how to correct the behaviour....which is exactly what I would have done. At first the boys were grounded for a day or two before we could get the time to talk and resolve the issue. In this recent problem, I assumed that the boy would be embarrassed and stop. Instead my son was treated to barrage of verbal abuse the next...it was so bad that I know that I wouldn't have been able to handle it as an adult. But to my son's credit....he tried talking and when that didn't help, he walked away! I don't think the mother is going to be interested in a list even if I made one......and to think she is a teacher in a school!! I would think she would know how to handle such situations in a balanced way.
@Cutie18f (9551)
• Philippines
10 Jul 11
I suggest that you let your son stay away from the bully. Bullies can greatly influence other kids and you don't want your son to be picking up his bad habits. Explain to him that he will have better friends outside, friends who are not violent and won't hurt him. It might be hard at first. Bring him to parks or invite kids of friends who have manners.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
11 Jul 11
I know for sure that my son wouldn't pick up those bad habits. But his other friends are picking it up. My son's are homeschooled and these are the boys they get to meet daily. But you are right, if we can get them to interact more with well-behaved children, our sons would benefit rather than mingle with kids who can't behave and their parents don't care.
@lady1993 (27123)
• Philippines
19 Nov 11
You could talk to the boy who is bullying your son in a scary face- never shout at them so he can't tell his mom or hit him either... it is really hard to be in a situation like this since they are both kids and not teens yet but this needs to be stopped before the bullying gets even worse..
@SViswan (12051)
• India
22 Apr 12
Sorry for the late response. My son chose to avoid the boys. We are now at my mom's place (another state) for the past 3 months and he is making new friends:-) Thanks for the response.
@SViswan (12051)
• India
6 May 12
Past few months he has been here and fortunately he has been meeting a lot of people and kids.
@lady1993 (27123)
• Philippines
1 May 12
Oh, that is another way of solving the problem.. But at least he is far away from the trouble and lets just hope he doesn't met anther person like that and make his life hell again.
@ravisivan (14089)
• India
18 Jul 11
In the issue of children -- we always support our child's cause -- We think that we are protecting our child against others by interfering. It may be the other child is very aggressive and the best option will be to leave it to them to sort out--as long as they do not indulge in hand fight it should be ok. Your child is not attending school classes -- there is advantage and disadvantage also in that he cannot put on with peer pressure and problems amidst kids. I am happy you were able to control yourself in not directly involving in a fight with the parents. But check "My mind is boiling right now...." should it boil. why are we attaching too much importance for this. I know as a person on the spot you will be feeling the heat. I am posting my response and if it is not suitable please ignore. I am sure the issue would have subsided by now. I have come across such issues for my son and daughter 25 years ago -- and we have to live with it. Support you son -- analyse the problem from both sides--if necessary suggest ur child to keep himself away from that boy.
@ravisivan (14089)
• India
18 Jul 11
Another option comes to my mind which u might have used -- talk to that boy in the presence of his mother and your son and suggest him to cooperate and play and encourage each other. good day.
@SViswan (12051)
• India
20 Jul 11
I've not taken your response personally. But I would like to clear a few things (which are not obvious from my initial post). One...I am not a protective mother and in fact, my kids (especially my older one) knows that I will assess the situation before I react. He also knows that I will not support him if I know he is wrong. If there is an issue with kids, I usually leave it for him to handle himself. We might discuss it at home as suggestions on what he can do to solve it himself...but I prefer staying away for the most part. There was a similar issue a couple of weeks before this incident where I had to step in because there was hitting and throat catching. Second, my children are not attending school. But my older son did attend school till the age of 9. He is quite capable of interacting with people of various age groups.And even at that point of time, I did feel that allowing kids to behave any which way just because the crowd behaved that way is totally wrong. Using bad language because everyone else is doing so...is not the right attitude taken by adults. Yes, the kids will be exposed to it at school or otherwise....but it is for us to guide them not to behave the same way. If not, what's the difference between us and animals? I've been exposed to the same at school....I've travelled to various countries (as a child and adult) and interacted with different kinds of people. Even today, I cannot use bad language or behave badly just because everyone else is doing so. When you mention 'cannot put up with peer pressure and problems'...in this situation I see it as the other kids cannot do so. They are the ones who bully him because they are trying to pull him down. My son is able to stand up to it and be calm without reacting the same way. Does co-operate mean to agree when he is called such names as 'retard','idiot','useless'..etc? In fact, I am proud that he has so much self-control (which even adults don't seem to have). I also feel that if it was my son doing the same as what that boy did, he would be bashed up by the other kids now. It just shows my son's mental strength that he did not do so. And it is one of the reasons why our kids do not go to school. We do not want them to be influenced by this kind of lax culture (or lack of it)....we prefer that they have friends from different area who vibe well with them and not be forced to put up with kids who are raised as brats. We can't move away from where we stay and will have to interact with the kids here. But our son has a choice to avoid them if he wishes to do so. I was not on the spot when this incident happened and I do not go to police my kids when they go down to play. It's not really subsided. I spoke to the mother first...who said she will make sure her son will not hit. After that came the verbal name calling and other rude comments (that's a mild term...he was actually spewing venom). I then thought over it again before I talked to the mother. She didn't hear the whole thing but she said her son will not play with my son. I said that's fair enough but her son cannot stop my son from coming down to play (which is one part of what he said). If the mother does not want to correct her son's behaviour, it is their problem, not mine. I'm a teacher and a mother (well...not exactly the typical Indian one who is very protective of her family and is ready to fight at the drop of a hat) and I know very well the problems that children have at different stages. And this is not the first incident. But here the difference is that the parents are not involved in guiding the child or correcting the behaviour that is going wrong. As I pointed out, a similar incident happened a couple of weeks before that...and it was handled so well. We parents are not fighting...and the kids are playing well together (of course, they have their squabbles which they solve themselves). We looked at it as something that needs to be corrected and did what best we could. There is no question of supporting my son. It is not about who is right or wrong...but I do not believe in having to 'live with it' when someone is harming another on purpose. It is this attitude that lets bullies get away with anything. Both of them can (and will) keep away from each other. But what happens when the boys are playing team games? My son will never ask the other boys to choose between him or the other boy.
@SViswan (12051)
• India
20 Jul 11
Sorry for the long post. I was just trying to clear certain things. It's a little difficult to know what kind of a person is just from a post on a virtual forum. And I know your assessment of the situation is based on the typical Indian mother that you come across.
• Jamaica
10 Jul 11
I personally think that the father was right in this one. It's not punishing the son to take him away from those who mistreat him is it? Children like those tend to normally act like that because its what happened to them, does that child have an older brother/abusive father?
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12051)
• India
11 Jul 11
My husband said not to let our sons go down to play at all!! This bully is playing with all the other boys and our sons sit at home looking out the window...it's not fair (that's how I feel...but I do go along with my husband just to see if that's something that will work). Funny thing is, I don't think anyone in that boy's family is abusive...they are pretty lax about everything. In comparison, we would be termed abusive parents(j/k...just meant that we are a little strict and my husband is a little loud when he is angry but we try to be balanced). The boy's younger brother is my younger son's best friend and they stay right next door....makes it difficult for us to totally stay away from the family.