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How would you handle YOUR son bullying younger kids?

I read the post about what to do when your kids gets bullied, but what would you do when YOUR kid IS the one bullying? My son is almost 4 and has been doing mean things to younger playmates. Things like pushing them down from behind when he thinks I'm not watching, stepping on fingers on purpose, or throwing sand or toys at them. I've had talks with him about how the other kids feel to try to get him to empathize. Made him sit away from them and not play. Put him in timeouts. It keeps happening, he just gets sneakier about it! What woud YOU do to make him stop!?! Please help!

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 7:21 AM on Oct. 16, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (10)
  • let him have a taste of his own medicine?

    Answer by Zoeyis at 7:24 AM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • From the Stop Bullying Now! website:

    * Make it clear to your child that you take bullying seriously and that you will not tolerate this behavior.
    * Develop clear and consistent rules within your family for your children's behavior. Praise and reinforce your children for following rules and use non-physical, non hostile consequences for rule violations.
    * Spend more time with your child and carefully supervise and monitor his or her activities. Find out who your child's friends are and how and where they spend free time.
    * Build on your child's talents by encouraging him or her to get involved in prosocial activities (such as clubs, music lessons, nonviolent sports).
    * Share your concerns with your child's teacher, counselor, or principal. Work together to send clear messages to your child that his or her bullying must stop.
    * If you or your child needs more help, talk to a mental health professional.

    Answer by layh41407 at 8:21 AM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • take him to a counselor to see what emotions are making him act this way??

    Answer by tonbookluvr at 8:59 AM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • When our kids were little and we had playdates the moms actually sat with the kids so we could monitor problems. Kids were happy and moms could chat. It worked for everyone. Also make sure your little one is getting praise for when he does things right and give positive reinforcement. Plus lots of hugs and kisses. He may need more one on one time with you and your SO. Sometimes kids go for the negative attention when they do not get enough positive attention. best wishes

    Answer by elizabr at 9:02 AM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • It's hard, because kids at that age empathetic, it is just an emotion they haven't completely developed yet. I would say when you see something like that give him a time out and a simple "we don't hurt people" as he gets older you can talk about how it makes others feel and that they don't like it. It not completely out of the norm for kids to act this way, show him how to use his words to get what he wants and that he doesn't have to hurt anybody. To me it doesn't seem psychiatrist worthy at this point, just work on it with him....


    Answer by skittles1108 at 9:09 AM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • It sounds like he might be doing it for some type of attention. Maybe offer a reward if you make it through a trip to the park WITHOUT throwing sand or stepping on fingers? Unfort TO generally don't work. If he DOES do these things at a playdate or park LEAVE immediately. NO chances...he will get the point eventually.

    Answer by coolchic320 at 11:09 AM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Kids that age DO understand emotions a lot more than we give them credit for. A simple explaination of "don't hurt people, it's not nice" isn't going to grasp their attention though. You need to really explain further WHY.
    "it's not nice to step on bettys fingers, because it hurts her. Remember when you fell down and scraped your knee from running to fast? It hurt, and you didn't like that feeling. It makes you sad right? Well you made betty sad and hurt her and that isn't nice." goes a lot further than, a simple, "it's not nice". Then make him apologize for his behavior toward the child he hurt. When he does apologize you can ask him why he wanted to hurt her, and ways to better handle himself when he gets mad.

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 12:44 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • if you feel making him apologize isn't punishment enough (and it may not be for some kids), you may try a time out or take away the toy and then discuss it with him after he gets out of time out.

    Since you are aware of the problem and aren't ignoring it and are trying to deal with it, I'm sure your kid will get it eventually. It's cases where mothers feel there child is always blameless that would raise the red flags here, because in those cases the kids tend to only get worse or it takes A LOT to try to redirect their actions. We had to deal with it with my nephew. (his mother is a, my child is perfect, and it's the other kids fault always, type of person, and his dad hardly sees him so over looks a lot of the behavior). But while playing with my DD i made sure he followed the rules. We'd talk to him, etc. Now when he comes over he's fine.

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 12:48 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • It's important to work with your child and give him consequences for anything he does to hurt another person (either physically or verbally). Before you go on a playdate, give your son a few reminders about empathy and kindness. If that doesn't work, try time-outs for any aggressive behavior. Have him right the wrong he has done. If he's still having difficulty, cutting playdates short usually makes a big impact. When you're leaving, you could say, "I see you're having a hard time being kind. We're leaving now because I can't let you hurt anyone the way I wouldn't want anyone to hurt you."

    With the parents I work with I suggest talking to the child about hurting other children.. Explain that if the bullying continues, the other kids won't want to play with him. Praise his efforts. Be specific: "I like the way you invited someone new to play."
    I wish more parents would be as proactive as you!


    Answer by AlisonAstair at 5:16 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • does grounding him from his favorite toy help?

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:40 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

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