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</tr></tbody></table><p>We had a disappointing parent-teacher conference last week.  She thinks my 4.5-year old incredibly bright and has a wonderful imagination, but his attention span is poor, he's easily distracted, and she's concerned about him socially.  He doesn't play too much with other kids, when he does he wanders off a lot, and he's been aggressive, <em>especially</em> in the last 3 weeks.  We haven't really seen much of it, but I really haven't gone to many playdates lately since he's in school 3 days a week.  I don't know where this aggression comes from, I was naively hoping that the teacher was overexaggerating but I got another bad report on Friday, and went and saw with my own eyes today and it was heartbreaking to watch my child be a monster at his school.  He'll come up behind a child and just push her down, and run away.  He'd go and instigate a fight with another child until the kid will push him away and mine will hit back.  He'll hip check one kid, knock another's tower down.</p>
<p>I don't know where this comes from, we're an AP family who doesn't hit, so where on earth would he decide that pushing a kid (and this happens multiple times in one day) would be acceptable?</p>
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<p>His teacher doesn't really have many suggestions, besides one-on-one playdates which really doesn't seem to be the issue.  It's when he's in a group.  She wonders whether he has self-esteem issues, and says he seems as if he doesn't know how he can join in and play, and since last year most of his classmates didn't understand him because of a speech delay, he grabbed first and asked questions later, it's like it's returned but in more force.<br>
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<p>I know this doesn't sound as bad as some of the other posts here, but he's going to be labeled a bully soon.  I already see some of the student teachers (it's a teaching preschool he goes to) are aggravated with him, and I'm afraid of him poisoning them AND his classmates against him.  Who wants to play with a kid who ruins the fun or might hit you?</p>
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<p>I'm reading Andrew Rao's "The Way of Boys" which is insightful, but hasn't really shed too much light on the WHY's.</p>
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<p>Any suggestions?  Has anyone had success with turning a bully around?  Because I'm about ready to put him in his room and lock the door until he's 22. </p>
 

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<p>My son is younger but we went through a bad stretch of biting. So I really empathize with your pain and frustration. I would dread going to pick him up because I was so worried about incident reports for biting.</p>
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<p>My son's biting disappeared once he was able to verbalize his frustrations. He also has mild CP so for him biting seemed to be the quickest way to get back a toy that was snatched-his way of leveling the playing field. And being constantly frustrated at a physical limitation must be so hard-the biting phase really humbled me. Here I was, this GD/AP parent and my kid was a terror.</p>
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<p>One things that stands out and is a huge pet peeve of mine is when children's behavior is criticised and labeled by teachers but no real strategies are discussed and no ideas brought to the table. Labeling a 4 yr old as a bully is a bit over the top IMO. </p>
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<p>It sounds like maybe your boy needs some extra help in social situations. It seems like he wants to interact with the other kids but doesn't know how to without using physical force. From what I have seen at my son's daycare this is not that unusual. Some kids just need more guidance in social interactions than others-it doesn't make them bullies, they just aren't as socially advanced as some of their peers.</p>
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<p>I would actually be setting up individual playdates-I think that is a good idea because it will give you a starting point to talk about how to interact with others in a place where he can succeed. You can also model and practice better behavior at home-talk about the situations where he is apt to push and hit and help him brainstorm better ways of handling himself.</p>
 

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<p>Your DS isn't a bully. Preschoolers react to stress by being aggressive. The frustration of a language delay can also cause more aggression. It doesn't sound like the preschool is a good fit. Preschool teachers should be able to recognize and deal with normal aggression without trying to label it as bullying. It also sounds like he doesn't have any friends. It's normal for some 4 year old to still be struggling with impulse control issues and aggression. It's not bullying. Bullying usually has a specific target or two and is often a social activity with an audience or group of supporters. Your little guy sounds frustrated and angry. He may feel that his classmates don't like him which adds to the problem.  It also sounds like the play groups were working better. Maybe the behavior is getting worse because your DS misses his real friends from his playgroups. If you can, I'd pull him out and let him do playgroups for awhile so he can experience being socially successful. Later if you can try a different school, where the staff doesn't already have negative expectations, it might be easier for him to get a fresh start.  He'll also be more caught up with his language skills later.</p>
 

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<p>To be fair, it's not the school labeling him a bully, it's what I foresee.</p>
<p>"Preschoolers react to stress by being aggressive." I think is right on target.  He's language delay is no longer; his classmates can understand most of what he says now.  He just seems to revert to aggression instead of speech!</p>
<p>Our playgroup dynamic has changed, so I don't really think that's going to help much.  Most of the girls want to do girl things.  If he's one on one with a girl it seems fine, but if there are other girls there they'd rather play dress up or something that he's not interested in.  We have had problems with a boy or two in playgroup, but with me there I immediately jump in if he starts to push, etc.  So much so that I've had to watch myself and not automatically blame him when I don't know what's happened, as he's not <em>always</em> at fault (usually, though!)  Most of the kids are in a similar schedule as my son, too, so most of his old friends aren't around.  We did have a one-on-one last week, which went fine until the playdate ran too long.</p>
<p>His teachers try talking with him about hitting makes the other kids sad, etc., my husband and I have tried talking with him.  He avoids confrontation and tries to run off when you're discussing (and I know he's 4, I'm not going on a 30-minute tirade.) </p>
<p>Watching today I saw a couple of the teachers really trying to involve my son, and it gives me hope.  As his head teacher said last week "We're not giving up on him" but part of me just feels like I should pull him from the class and start over.  But honestly, I see it happening at a new school, too. </p>
<p>My therapist gave me some suggestions on "talk therapy" with my son, like play school with pretend classmates and see how they interact, and also play house, to see how he sees home life.  I'm terrified it's something I've done, but nothing's changed in the past 3 weeks, we're not a violent household, etc.  I think it's probably common to blame myself, but it's hard not to; I'm a stay at home mom, and this is my job.  I feel like I've failed.</p>
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<p><strong><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Thanks</span> everyone for your input.  I really appreciate it.</strong></p>
 

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<p>My child had this problem (we are homeschoolers but I tried a preschool once because I was sort of taught that he needed the socialization or some such thing). He was brutal with the other kids. Light-years ahead of them verbally, overstimulated by the chaos and what I've come to recognize as things that trigger him, AND desperately wanting to play with the other kids but either not knowing how to join in OR he would get frustrated with their inability to communicate at the same level.....PLUS he hated being away from me even for half a day. To this day he refers back to that lovely preschool as "that horrible place" (paraphrase)</p>
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<p>Now he's fine (he is 7). It was the wrong place at the wrong time for him, so we pulled him out.</p>
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<p>But no one should EVER label him a bully in his presence, because it is likely to stick with him as a self-image which he may, unfortunately, rise up to.</p>
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<p>I know this is a more in-depth topic than my quick answer would indicate, but I have to go to a meeting. Hence the quick reply. Best of luck!!</p>
 

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<p>I do point out bullying behavior in my home.  Of course, we have 4 kids and they will all bully each other.  I make it clear (and have since the oldest was about 4) that I do NOT tolerate bullying at home or away.  I have a strict line on that.  So when one child starts to hit another I do clearly say, "you are bullying and that is NOT OK".  Honestly, I haven't had an issue with any of them internalizing this because they understand that bullying is a behavior, just like hitting, kicking, screaming are all behaviors.  I don't fear telling them that they are bullying someone because it is addressed as a behavior and not a personality trait.  So I address the bullying behavior, "when you called her that name and pushed her you were bullying".  This gives them a clear picture of what they are doing. I think that by addressing it as a behavior, I don't suffer from wondering "is my child becoming a bully?"  Because being a bully is just that, it is an action a behavior, not a person. </p>
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<p>The point of all that, stop worrying about whether he is becoming a bully and address the behavior like you would any other undesirable behavior.  Relax, a person is not a "bully" but any person can bully others.  At least that is how I look at it.  Address the behavior, not the fear of the stereotype.</p>
 
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