How to deal with bullying

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Xtina, May 28, 2012.

  1. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

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    There are lots of types of bullying, so this question isn't meant to deal with all of them - just the type I'm going through. And by "I", I mean my 2 year old son! Seems a little young to be having bullying issues isn't it? Well, here's the story.

    I live in a very tight-knit neighborhood where for the whole six years I've lived here, the families with kids (about six families in all, depending on the year) would have regular get-togethers where the kids could play and the adults could socialize. This was even before I had a kid and I was always involved. Our closest neighborhood friends have a little boy who is now about 5.5 and when he was about 2, he started having issues with aggressiveness toward the other kids. To specify, he doesn't share, likes to shove and snatch, and is pretty exclusionary toward the others. He's just your general rambunctious little boy, but I knew back then that the other parents were having lots of issues with him. It actually wrecked his family's relationships with not one, but several of the other families. The other kids around his age (mostly little girls who felt like he was a big meanie) started to hate him and not want to play with him. The neighborhood started dissolving and we had fewer get-togethers. I was quite glad that I didn't have kids yet, because my hope was that this little boy would outgrow it by the time I did have a kid.

    Well, now I do have a little boy and he's very sweet. He loves running and playing with the other kids. When he was first born, the neighbor boy loved him and would talk about being buddies with him, but as soon as he started moving around and wanting to play with toys, the neighbor boy showed himself to have not outgrown his previous tendencies at all. All of the object possessiveness, refusal to share, and general mean-ness was still around, and now in the form of a big boy picking on a baby, not just a little boy picking on the kids his own age.

    I blew it off as being nothing when my son was too little to really notice it, but that didn't last long. My kid is pretty sharp and I could tell he was taken aback by this attitude, even when he was as young as one. It's gotten worse and worse in the last year. There's shoving, hitting with play swords, snatching toys out of little arms, angry shouting whenever my son tries to join in a game of soccer (really mean stuff, like, "he'll ruin the game! No! He can't play!), refusal to share toys with him, etc. If my son tries to pick up a toy or get on the swing, no matter what the 5 year old was doing, or how far away he was, he runs at full speed to snatch whatever it was away from my son. I had to really get on him and his cousin when they started a game for a few months wherein they would pretend to be a pair of guard dogs and they would make horrible growling and barking noises and terrible faces at the littler kids. They made one little girl cry and they scared my mother in law out of their room that way. I ran up after they did it to my kid and gave them the sternest talking-to that I've ever given a kid (and would have gone farther if they were my kids). They did it to my kid a few more times and scared him out of the place (and got in trouble for it) until that game got boring.

    Tonight, as we were having a potluck dinner, my son toddled around to the front of the house where the kids were playing. I thought all of them were there, including the bigger girls around 9 years old who normally regulate the play and keep it safe. But I was wrong and it was just the two boys around 5-6. My son soon came back and I could tell something wasn't right. He told me, "X hit me." I asked him to tell me again and he repeated it, but when I asked him "Did X hit you?" he said no. So I started him on his dessert and tried not to make a big deal of it, but after a minute I decided to go to the front yard and see if I could get the story. Well, the 6 year old boy immediately came out with it upon being questioned. Said the 5 year old told my son, "Get out of here or I'll kill you," and then shot him with the wooden bow and arrow he had made. Hit him right on the chin so you know he was aiming at him directly, even if he didn't mean to hit him in the face, he was aiming at my son. I should clarify that this is a homemade arrow out of what looked like a drum stick, with a blunt tip, not sharpened. But he can shoot it really far, so it goes fast.

    So I have no idea what is a normal parental reaction out of a situation like this. I have to be honest, it makes my blood boil when kids as old as 4 or older pick on a 2 year old. Sure, boys will be boys, but they're not in the same weight and maturity class. My kid is very little compared to these older boys and I feel like they shouldn't pick on someone so small. And what should I have done? Well, I questioned the boy strongly and tried to make him admit to it. I was so mad my fingers were tingling, but I tried to keep a somewhat calm tone, while still making it clear that he had done wrong. He couldn't run away because he had climbed a tree and running away would have taken him right past me, where I would have grabbed him and marched him to his parents. He refused to admit it, tried to blame it on the older boy, then tried to blame it on my son, all the while trying to deny that he remembered what happened (five minutes beforehand). In the end, I had his sister bring his mother to the front and told her what the story was. I left and didn't see how she handled it, but I've seen her reactions before. I don't know that they're sufficient, but far be it from me to tell another parent how to deal with something that I'm not sure I would know what to do about. In the end, she got him to admit to it and made him apologize to my son. I appreciated that, even though is apologies are always a joke or at times even mildly scary and threatening.

    I thought I'd see if anyone had any advice for this kind of thing. Not having family get-togethers doesn't seem like the right solution. Nor does letting my kid be attacked, belittled, and threatened. The mom has already been confronted by other moms on this and it's ruined her relationships with them because of the way she and her husband take it. I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill and wreck a friendship. On the other hand, I can tell that this boy's behavior is only going to get much worse. And these parents aren't bad people. I can't say that they're screwing up (maybe not disciplining enough, but I can't judge too much), and I know that they're not modeling that type of behavior to him. I know they're doing their best to change the behavior and it's not doing any good. I learned from another mom tonight that the mom is starting to feel concerned and upset about it (a few years too late, to be sure) and I don't think she knows what to do either. I sure don't.

    What would you folks' reactions be in my place? What about if you were in her place? Has anyone ever raised a bullying child and lived to tell a happy tale about the end result? Has anyone ever rectified a situation in which a close community member's child was bullying a smaller child (or many children)? I feel like my only recourse is to be a helicopter mom, constantly watching my kid when we're with this other family and I don't like that. He needs to have some freedom to explore and make mistakes and solve his own problems without his mom constantly protecting and defending him. But I also can't have him being damaged emotionally or physically by this other boy - or worse - picking up that behavior himself!

    To end the story on a good note, tonight during his prayers, my little boy asked Jesus to bless this other little boy and all his family and friends, focusing on the bad little boy at least three times. I'm SO proud of him and can't believe how wonderful of a soul he has. I hope I don't ruin him with my substandard parenting!
     
  2. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits...

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    I would keep my kid in my eyesight at all times when you want to have these get togethers. Hes only 2... still way too young to be running aroung unsupervised.. especially since you know this other/older kid is a bully.
    There isnt much you can do about the bully, as he isnt your child. But you can protect your child from him.
     
  3. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits...

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    OR you can hire a "babysitter" during those times. (maybe an older/responsible teen?) to watch over him while you are busy at the party..
     
  4. griffinkid02

    griffinkid02 Chirping

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    I'm not as nice as red hen, the boy and his parents would be dis-invited from my property or any function I hosted/organized until they dealt with the problem. You said that the other families in the neighborhood have noticed and that the family in question have lost other friends over this. Stand up, make a point, and see how many of those other families fall in behind you becuase it means having a safe place for THEIR kids to play.
     
  5. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

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    This is where I'm at right now. I just feel like I'm the only one of the parents that is trying to keep such a watchful eye on the kids and that by doing so, I may be doing as much harm as good. I should clarify that the area is small but the kids run in a pack from the back to the front to the inside, then back again. I'm the only one out of maybe 8 adults that gets up to leave the table just to stand there and watch the kids. It makes me feel like I'm being a bit crazy and that's where my hesitation to do what I know will protect my kid is coming in. Although protecting him surely trumps the desire to let him spread his wings.


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by redhen [​IMG]

    OR you can hire a "babysitter" during those times. (maybe an older/responsible teen?) to watch over him while you are busy at the party..

    Nah, the point is that they're weekly family get-togethers of these three families on the same block where the kids can play and the adults relax. I can't get a sitter for that.

    Well, I guess I could envision that being a solution in a different sort of neighborhood. It's difficult to explain our community but it's just a really close-knit group of families and I can't imagine disbarring what is effectively the leaders of the community. I mean, the husband even got me a job when I was unemployed and the three dads play in a band together every weekend, with a potluck following. There isn't going to be a get-together without them and half of them take place at their house. I'd have to stay home alone with my kid while all the other kids get to play (including his best little girl friend) and exclude him from the chance to play while everyone else gets to...all for the sake of one bad little bully.

    Any advice as to the normalcy or abnormality of this other little boy's behavior? I'm concerned about him too...he's not just some bad little stranger. He's a kid I've known since he was born and he's a part of our extended "family." I want to know that my choices can help him in some way too - or at least don't make him worse.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  6. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

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    I don't mean to sound like I'm combating your helpful answers. I'm running through a lot of emotions tonight, as I do every time something bad happens with this boy. I'm concerned about him, I'm concerned about my kid (even more), I'm concerned about the neighborhood, and I'm concerned about what his parents go through with this. I know they're trying and I imagine how I'd feel in their situation. It's a pretty crappy place to be for them, and it's also crappy to have your sweet, gentle two-year-old get shot in the face with an arrow after being yelled at and made to feel as if he doesn't belong. I remember what that felt like as a kid and I hated it. But I didn't want the mean kids to be disappeared from my life - I wanted them to change and I felt strongly that grown-up intervention was the answer. Now as a grown-up, I feel really hopeless about it, as if there's nothing that grown-ups can do to change a kid's bad attitude. I don't like that feeling of helplessness.
     
  7. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits...

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    Why would you feel crazy for getting up and checking on your 2 year old baby? :confused: Hes only 2 years old...
     
  8. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits...

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    Be very thankful that your son still has both of his eyes...
    Next time?..
     
  9. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

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    No no, I don't feel crazy for checking on him every 2 minutes. I feel crazy for following him around constantly to the exclusion of my ability to converse with other adults even for a second. If I supervise him to the extent necessary to make sure that he's safe from this other kid, then I might as well not even be there. He of course, benefits tremendously from playing with the nicer kids there. But I feel like he should be able to do a lap without me following him.

    Maybe I'm just being too sensitive to the other parents' criticisms of helicopter parents.
     
  10. Xtina

    Xtina Songster

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    Yes, I can't sleep because I had all the scenarios of what this kid will do next running through my head. Bashing my son's head on the bricks? Concussions? Fistfights? Where's it going to go? I'm restless and upset about it. And you guys are quickly convincing me that I'm not crazy to want to follow him around every minute, unlike the other parents. But is that really what a good parent does? Don't we let them work some things out on their own without mom defending them every instant?

    The incident in question happened in about one minute's space of time. He had been eating dessert with me, got up to go to the front, and came back to eat dessert, saying he had been hit.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012

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