My son Joshua is 10. He made friends with this lad during this past school year. A few weeks ago the lad slept over and dh noticed something I hadnt noticed before. The lad (Ill call him Andrew) said to Josh 'Come on Josh, lets get our pajamas on'. Sounds innocent enough, but it was sort of bossy. Dh said 'You notice Andrew's always bossing Josh around?'. I paid close attention and sure enough he was. Dh and I had noticed previously that Andrew would often ask for food and drink, then he'd get Josh to ask... and Josh most often did. Andrew will be mean to Josh's other friend, our neighbour, who is a good friend of the family.Tim is a few years younger then my kids and I had previously witnessed him acting jealously and nasty towards Andrew, so I assumed it was just him.
School just let out a week ago for us over here (we're in the UK) and things have escalated slightly. Andrew's been around and Josh has been running around the neighbourhood with him. Josh came running in the other day having fallen over and scraped himself up a bit. He was alone at first and he simply told me he was running and fell over. Andrew came up with a lad I dont like very much, a classmate with what I would consider serious behavioural problems. Andrew said something about having fallen over while running on a rooftop! Josh left that minor detail out. The colour in his face drained and I said to Andrew 'You just dropped him in it mate!' Josh didnt get in trouble for it bc it seemed being caught telling a lie was enough. I could tell he felt sick for lying to me, he started crying and said he was sorry. We talked about the importance of telling the truth and he was told he wasnt to be climbing on those roofs again.
Several other incidents involving Andrew getting Josh to ask for food. It was a hot day and Andrew asked me several times if I had ice lollies in the house. Then he got Josh to ask for money to go and buy some. Josh asked and dh said 'NO!' Andrew was standing behind Josh when he asked almost pushing him in and when dh said 'no' he simply said 'Lets go Josh, Ill ask my mom'. I cant figure out why Josh hangs out with someone like Andrew, why he lets himself be bossed around like that. He's quit being friends with other lads for less, ykwim? Then something disturbing happened. I mentioned my neighbour's son Tim. Josh, Andrew, and Tim were bouncing on Tim's big trampoline. My kids are on it all the time and they have rules they made up themselves so no one gets hurt. For example, if someone is under the trampoline for any reason, they walk gently or stop. Tim went under the trampoline to get a wayward ball and Josh stopped, Andrew bounced harder onto Tim's head sending him yelling and crying into him mum's house, all the while Andrew's shouting 'I said I was sorry!!'.
Andrew will often tell Josh 'Come on Josh lets go (somewhere else to get away from Tim)'. Or generally just boss Josh around like that, not in a nasty way, but definately in a controlling, bossy way. He'll not ask Josh, he's telling him 'Josh get my bike', 'Josh lets go to my house, come on' 'Carry my bike up the steps'(!!) and so on. There are plenty of times Josh will say 'No' but more often Josh seems to follow along. This lad is definately the dominant one.
What Ive done is have a chat with Josh about it. At first we talked about the fact that he is to tell Andrew he isnt going to ask for any food from our house. To begin with I didnt want to tell my kids who they were and werent allowed to hang out with. I wanted them to find out what their friends were like for themselves and learn to make wise decisions about what kind of company they should keep (we've discussed the qualities of good friends at length). My DD's are a bit older and they are pretty clued up about who they hang out with. Finally, yesterday, with the revelations about the Trampoline Incident, I said Andrew wasnt allowed over and that I didnt want Josh playing with him for the time being. Josh almost seemed relieved. He kept asking me 'Do you want me to stop hanging out with Andrew'. I said to him he was allowed to make that decision for himself. But he kept asking me about it as if he needed me to set up that boundary for him. I dont understand what's going on here. Why do you think Josh couldnt do that for himself. Its strange but Andrew is or seems like a very, very polite young lad. He's chatty, friendly, so his bossyness didnt strike me at first. Its not so much the problem with this lad Im asking for advice about, but for my son. He doesnt open up very easily so Im struggling to understand why he's allowed this Andrew to boss him around without him noticing and what advice to give Josh about it. For now, we've decided just last night that he simply needs to keep his distance from Andrew.
Its difficult bc the kids, lads particularly, around here arent very good boys. I know them from school and the majority of them have behavioural problems. Im afraid that when Josh goes into secondary school there may be an issue with him 'falling in with the wrong crowd'. What can I do to minimise that potential? Im consdering sending them to a school that isnt local, but Im not sure what else to do.
Thanks for reading and any advice given is greatly appreciated.
Some people are just charismatic, other people are easily led or attracted to charismatic/dominant people (I am one of the sheep myself). I suppose what might have helped me at 10yo would have been if someone had gently asked me if I was getting what I wanted and needed out of the friendship. To keep me thinking on that one. Plus, I suppose I didn't trust myself to like or do the right (cool) things, so I tended to be attracted to people who seemed to know what they were doing. I wonder if that's sort of what your son is doing. I needed to grow up to figure out that it was ok to like or do what I liked to do just because I liked them (I didn't need external validation for it to be ok).
~ Yank Transplant to Britain and Zookeeper of 4 DC age 15 and under. ~
Hey Cavy, first of all thank you for your reply. Secondly, I read your siggie and I am also a yank transplanted in the uk. Im from cleveland but live in plymouth. How long have you been in the Uk? Ive been here for 11 years now.
Cavy gave you a great reply! I'll second that and perhaps start asking his opinion more often or talking about what he likes when you shop etc. to get him talking about himself more and helping him sort out his sense of self. I was a sheep too. I learned to sew when I was young and as my skills increased I came out of my shell and developed a definite sense of style, which helped me grow in other areas. That boy Andrew gives me the creeps, and ya know, to this day I still struggle with how to respond to this behavior in children, although with adults I do pretty well with sticking up for myself.