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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I glanced through the threads here, and I see there is a fair bit about children and harsh behaviour between children.

My son, who just turned two, was a very sociable, happy, trusting child who has now become reluctant to interact with other children.

There have been a couple of incidents where a friends' son (who is 5) took a disliking to DS and repeatedly would scream in his face and physically block DS from playing. DS now does not want to visit there anymore and if I am there just sits on my lap
(He won't get out of the car, won't walk to their house, won't go through the front door. He used to do all this happily.) Now when we are there if the older boy starts screaming I ask him not to. But I also feel awkward essentially disciplining someone else's child with them there, and them not doing anything that I am aware of to stop the problematic behaviour.

There was another incident where an older boy in the home-schooling group (also 5 or 6) dragged him around by his shirt until I saw what was happening and stopped it. I know this boy is SN, and keep a close eye on him if he is near DS. Only, now DS will sit on my lap when we go to the group and doesn't want to run around and play. Today at the park he didn't want to get out of the bike seat when he saw the other kids (strangers) playing. When I took him out, he ran off down the grass to a quiet place where there were no other children


I am concerned that he has become so reserved around other children. He still interacts freely with adults.

Is there any way that I can support him through this?

At the moment I kind of figure that he will get over this fear with time.
There is no getting away from other kids being nasty and I cannot control other children to ensure that he is always safe and feels welcome. That is just not possible.

I have been taking the approach of still going to the meet ups and not forcing him to do anything (other than be there with me). I hope that by me being there and not pressurising him to play with the other children, he will in time feel more confident.

Thoughts, advice?
 

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He is a little young for cooperative play, at that age kids tend to play mostly by themselves or along side other kids but not really with them. I think you should continue to be a safe presence and allow him to explore and play where he is happy to play and explore even if that means he is playing with you and not other kids. I also think you should avoid situations that you know are to stressful for him, especially with the five year old who screams in his face. There is a huge age gap there and it isn't fair to either child to keep having play dates with this boy. Since there was only one incident at the homeschooling group I think it would be good to keep going and allow him to sit on your lap and be with you until he is comfortable playing around the other kids again. It sounds like he has had some things happen with older kids that are very traumatic and he just needs some time to see that he is going to be safe.
 

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The way I see it, you have three options - discipline the other kid, tell his parents to discipline him, or stop going to that friend's house. It's totally not ok for a 5 year old to bully a little 2 y.o. like that. (With the SN kid, it would likely be more appropriate to supervise closely.)

It's ok to stand up for your child when another (especially a significantly bigger!) child is trying to hurt/intimidate him. Otherwise, you teach him that such behavior is acceptable, and open him up to either repeat victimhood or becoming a bully himself.
 

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Wow, your poor little guy.

I can totally understand his fear. For a two year old, a 5 year old is like if a grizzly bear game up to an adult and started getting in their face! Not pleasant at all.

I have two ideas that I hope might help a little.

First, could you have a one on one playdate with a child closer to his own age/size/personality? Just to get him back to the idea that other kids can be fun?

Secondly, do you know anyone with a really nice 6-9 year old (esp girl)? A lot of times children that age are *wonderful* with "babies". DS is 8 and he is so very gentle with our friends who are 1-4. He really cares for them and lets them basically do whatever they want. Just to give your DS a chance to see that bigger kids are "safe."

Personally, before I took DS back to the first place you describe I would talk to the other parent. It is really not okay for a 5 year old to be scaring your son in that way. Do you think he is just a really loud kid and doesn't realize how much he is hurting DS' feelings? Or do you think he is trying to control him in some way? I would definately have already asked my DS to back off your son and to make amends, so it may be that your friend is just not willing or able to see what her son is doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks so much for the replies.

Just some more background. The 5 years old has a younger brother DS's age. The play dates were more for the two younger ones, not to play so much, as just for DS to be around other kids. There are not many mums at home with children where I live, making it hard for me to find kids for DS to be around. Yes, I think the older boy is trying to control my son. He controls his little brother and his mother. I do not think he has ever been told no. I did bring it up with the mum that it's not working for us and she did not really know what to do. That is the way her son is. I do ask him not to shout, although I feel awkward asking another child to modify their behaviour.

Anyway, that meet up is not working for us at the moment, and I am really happy to have found the homeschooling group. I am going to try and meet with the family in a public space and see how it goes. If that also doesn't work, I'll have to give it a miss. Which would be sad. This is one of the few mums where we share common interests.

DH thinks it might also just be a developmental thing that DS feels a little uncertain with kids now and just needs to be close to me.

I'll bring it up in the homeschooling group. Maybe one of the mums there has a gentle older child who dotes on younger ones.

I have read so many threads on these issues, and the reality of it is so much harder than it comes across online.
 

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whenever I see someone treating my kid in a way that bothers her (or me), at this age I will step over and say what I want DD to say to stand up for herself. Model the behavior I'd want her to have. For instance with the yelling kid I'd say 'stop, I don't like loud noises/i need my space' and walk away. Show him how to be assertive for himself so he can learn those skills for when you aren't around! I find 'stop' to be a great first word to teach the younger set
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by EzzysMom View Post
whenever I see someone treating my kid in a way that bothers her (or me), at this age I will step over and say what I want DD to say to stand up for herself. Model the behavior I'd want her to have. For instance with the yelling kid I'd say 'stop, I don't like loud noises/i need my space' and walk away. Show him how to be assertive for himself so he can learn those skills for when you aren't around! I find 'stop' to be a great first word to teach the younger set
Thanks.

That is just what I needed to hear.
 

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As a mother of "that child" who is "the bully", I can assure you that MOST parents won't mind you speaking up and telling thier kid to mind thier manners when you feel that it's necessary. Sometimes we have listened to the yelling all day and have started to tune it out. There are only so many times that I can say "talk gently please" "let's be quiet inside" "we need to talk nicely to people if we want to play with them" etc etc etc before I just can't do it anymore.

And since I listen to my child tell EVERYONE "stop!!!!!!!!" ALL.THE.TIME, I have to say that I am not an advocate of that any more than I am an advocate of teaching a 10month old "NO". teach them the rest of that example, to tell the other child what is bothering them and to remove themselves from the situation, but not the stop part, not yet!
 

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my daughter ran into "bullying" around age 2-3, and it was sad for me, as she was super outgoing, and then became a little fearful (ie, this happened in mcdonald's play place, and she didn't want to go back up when other kids were there). what i've done is have some conversations with her, in which we talk about how some kids are mean, but most kids are not mean. i have given her words to use (and the confidence to use them). i was so proud of her when, after telling me some older girls told her she couldn't go down the slide, and she came down to tell me that she couldn't go down b/c they said "stay out of my way." i was in a pissy mood already and when i heard that, i just said, go back up there and tell them to "get out of your way" and she did! i could even hear it down below, she just went right up there and said it, not yelling, just saying it. and the bullies moved!!

she got past it, at least for now. i tried not to let MY feelings show, and just be kinda nonchalant about it, so she wouldn't make too big a deal out of it.

ps: don't be afraid to "discipline" another person's kid IF it's called for. an older kid bullying a younger kid IS asking for parental intervention, IMO. (discipline meaning you educate the child about being nice and now saying/doing that to other kids, especially kids younger than them.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have rethought it, and I have to agree with kdtmom2be, I am not sure about using the word stop just yet. But I will model asking him to stop yelling if DS is obviously distressed.

DS can't say "get out of my way" yet, but I will be sure to remember that when he is more verbal. There was another incident where he was told to get off the jungle gym by older girls (4-5 years) as they had made into their private space and did not want to be disturbed. I let it slide and just redirected DS. The same girls have repeatedly told DS to go away if he is near them. I have told them DS can play where he wants to. I think there is also a issue in the homeschooling group of the kids knowing each other and having someone new come in upsets the balance a bit.

Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions.
 

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I just wanted to add that I am faced with this problem two-fold:

- on the one hand, DD is the big kid (she's big for not quite 3) and is very verbal and just plain strong.
- on the other hand, she's not quite three! so there are times when she gets pushed around as well.

We often go to the play place at the mall up the street from us. Before she goes in I remind her that she is not to hit, push, kick or be bossy or we will have to go home. However, one day, I watched a kid walk up to her out of nowhere and push her down (and had also watched this kid push down a few others as well). She came to tell me that she didn't like the girl and I reminded her that while it is not ok to push, it is ok to defend herself. I told her to try telling the girl that she didn't like it when she pushed, and if she pushed DD again to push her back. She didn't push DD again, but I did watch her push two more kids. I also saw her mother watching and doing nothing, so I took it upon myself to intervene. I told her that pushing is not nice and that if she was going to push that maybe she should go and sit with her mother instead. She pushed one more kid and her mom finally came to her and disciplined her (after pushing SIX kids in total without provocation, mine included.) A few other moms came and thanked me for stepping in saying that they weren't sure if they should say anything or not. If it was MY kid, I would expect you to feel free to tell her to stop being a bully, therefore if it's YOUR kid, you'd better expect that I'm going to say something to them if you won't!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, today we met up with our homeschooling friends and all three boys had a blast. It got a bit rough and I had to stop DS throwing gravel. There was also an incident where DS threw a stone at the older boy that hit him in the leg. I was mortified. We had been throwing stones into a pond, and somehow DS ended up throwing a stone at the 5 year old.

It all got sorted out with both me and the other mother explaining that DS does not yet understand that it is ok to throw stones in the water, but not at people. I also apologized for DS and made sure the 5 year old was feeling ok. He handled it pretty well. Initially he aimed the stone back at DS, and then just threw it away from anyone.

Outside with lots of new things to explore seemed to work really well for all of us. I am so relieved DS felt confident to play. Now I need to figure out how to handle him if he gets rough and is inappropriate.
 
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