We live on an urban area with a very active relaxed style home school group. For the most part I LOVE the group and the families that are involved. I have never felt more at ease in a group setting in all my life. Despite the wonderful aspects of the group I am wondering if we should continue to attend the meetings and some of the outings related to bullying. My 6 year old son is very anxious and has in the past acted out when other kids get in his face or do something that he feels to be wrong in his presence. We have worked with him regarding this and he has gotten much better about it. The problem is that one of the 11 year old boy in the group knows what sets him off and antagonizes him. He will seek him out and tell my son to do bad things, and when he won't the older child will harass my son to the point of hitting him with sticks, pushing him down, or today swimming over to him grabbing him by the ankles in the pool and pulling him under the water and around in circles. When I attempt to intervene the child denies everything (even though is was right there) and makes up some very lame excuse. I have tried talking to the boy, his mother, and his father and have gotten no where. The mother simply tells my that this just how her child is and that the kids need to learn how to deal with it on their own. I have tried to avoid the family and even went as far as trying to find a new group, but those options aren't practical for our family. I just at a loss as to what else to do. I'm sure I am forgetting to mention some other things we have tried, however this has been ongoing for several years, but has recently come to a head. Please feel free to give me ideas or resources for dealing with this. Thank you so much.
Bullying / antagonizing in our homeschool group
Today you child was almost drowned? I'm sorry but that is NOT ok. Where were the lifeguards the other parents? This older child needs some parenting asap.
However for your son here are some ideas. My son never liked people in his 'space' so we implemented a 'rule' of sorts. Everyone had to keep their hands to themselves. This also included said sticks, rocks, and other objects. Of course kids could ask, " Billy, do you want to play xyz" and then everyone could decide for themselves. But there is no just coming up and invading someone's space.
i'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this. i've been in your shoes, and the only solution i could come up with was to stay at my child's side to prevent the unparented child from hurting ds. :( kids shouldnt need a bodyguard to protect them from other kids, but if the other family is unwilling to address their child's behaviour, i dont really know what else to do.
it really sucks.
i also put my son into martial arts, i figure it's probably not the only time he's going to have to deal with a bully and at least he'll have some strategies to protect himself when i'm not around.
there's the bullies to buddies website, but when kids are being physically harmed by other kids, i dont think b2b is enough.
Did you tell her about the dunking/underwater dragging? If not, I would send an email to her, her husband and perhaps the leader of the group that described what happened as clearly and simply as possible (try to use as little emotion as you can). I would tell her that I do not feel like my child is safe around her child, and ask her what she is prepared to do about it. And if she is not willing to address it (which would shock me-- is she going to let him send a kid to the hospital?), I would drop out of the group, and start having separate gatherings that only include kids that treat your son decently (basically start a splinter group).
If she responds by saying that "the kids need to work this out themselves" I would point out that her son is targeting a MUCH younger child, and it is not reasonable to leave the 6 year old on his own to handle this.
If you aren't willing to leave the group, I would tell the mother and her child that you are going to start photographing the abuse. That might convince her to keep her son away from yours.
But I think that starting a new group is the way to go.
Sorry you have to deal with this, it sounds awful.
wow. hugs to you. that's so hard, and my mama bear would definitely react as well. your poor little guy. the big issue here, is this isn't a fair fight at all. kids do need to work things out themselves for sure, but this is not one of those times. the boys need to stay away from each other, period. the older away from your son and vice versa. but since you have already tried to address it with the child & his parents, my next course of action would be to stay right near my son (like a shadow). if he's in the pool, i'm sitting on the curb. if he's in the field, i'm right on the sidelines. i would be so close to him, that the older kids would either be too intimidated to mess with my kid, or if they were dumb enough to try, i would intervene immediately (and i'd be too close for anyone to deny what just happened). also, instruct your son to stay away from this older child. i know you said this older child seeks him out, but still, make sure your little guy knows to steer clear. let him know that this older child wants to bring him nothing but trouble. lastly, leave the group if you need too. i know you love it, but how does your son feel about it?
hugs. i hope it works out.
Possibly, since you like the group as a whole, you could organize activities specific to your child's age group. Around here, I'm seeing parents of older kids organizing activities for tweens or teen. You could do ones targeted towards kids in the 5-8 age range or something. Hopefully this kid doesn't have younger siblings so they aren't interested in joining and don't bring him along. I'm guessing this kid is bored (are there other kids his age or is he one of the older ones?) and making his own action by messing with yours. I'm not excusing his behavior in the least but I'm thinking if that's the case, having the group break up into age specific groups for some activities and outings might help both kids out. I've had to spend many a time staying close to my ds when we've been around certain kids. Usually they shape up when they know they are being watched that closely. But if his parents are condoning his behavior, that will probably not be effective.
I had another thought: is there an older boy (~15) who would be willing to hang out with your son at park day? Odd are, the 11 year old would be much more likely to take a correction from an older kid. Of course you would need to find a teen who has the right disposition for it, and wouldn't physically threaten him, but would be comfortable telling him to stop.
I've never experienced this sort of situation directly, but I am one of the moderators of the email list that serves our region's homeschool support group, and on two occasions over the past few years, there have been discussions on-list about bullying-type behaviour. They've been handled very well, as far as I can tell, and I wonder if a wide-ranging discussion between parents through email or in person might be an option for you. Obviously dealing with the parent one-on-one hasn't had the desired effect.
For what it's worth, on-list the discussion was not personal or blaming. By way of example, about a year ago one mom posted that she was aware that a couple of children had felt unsafe and hurt by some of the behaviour within the group in recent weeks. The problems were alluded to enough that parents could probably figure out which kids were involved and when the problems had been witnessed ("During free play outdoors after lunch, particularly when there's a mix of older kids and younger hangers-on, things tend to get too physically aggressive for my child" that kind of description) but no one said "So-and-so kept pushing" or anything like that. She suggested that the group brain-storming ways to better monitor interactions between children and react pro-actively to ensure that the children who were feeling vulnerable could begin again to feel secure. There was validation of the fact that parenting styles vary a lot within the group, and that maturity, ages and social styles were vastly variable between children. But the issue was that all children needed to feel secure within the group, and how could adjustments be made to the group dynamic or to behavioural expectations, without naming, shaming or blaming, and without asking parents to be untrue to their parenting philosophies?
Would there be any way you could initiate this type of discussion amongst the group of parents?