Anonymous asks:

How can we stop our 7 year old from bullying?

We adopted our son when he was 5 and a half.  He is deaf and had no language when we adopted him.  I am fluent in  American Sign Language, so he is now equal or above his deaf peers in communication.  He has an average IQ, but his problem solving ability is approximately 2 years beyond his chronological age.  He has Reactive Attachment Disorder, diagnosed by Mental Health/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.
In the first two weeks of school, he has pushed, hit, and thumped children nearly every day.  His behaviors have been categorized as bullying.  What advice can you give us?
In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago



Sep 4, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for writing your important question to JustAsk.  I commend you for being very much in tune with the needs of your son.  Since you use ASL fluently with your son I would think that language communication on a basic level is not an issue in the home, however, I am unclear if he is attending a school for the deaf, program for the hearing impaired in a public school or is mainstreamed.  If he is the only signing student within a hearing environment this may be part of the reason for his pushing, hitting, etc. behaviors.  If language barriers are the case then a class sign language series of lessons may be in order to help ameliorate the situation.  Sign language can be incorporated in a fairly easy way throughout his day, if this is the case.

However, given his other profile of Reactive Detachment Disorder, you may wish to have the special education team at school in conjunction with you develop a cooperative behavior plan.  This plan would be both at home and at school in order to send a clear signal to your son that you are very much in tandem with positive reinforcement and consequences for negative behaviors.  First, I would recommend that several behavioral observations be conducted by the school psychologist or another qualified person within the school in order to see what precedes his negative behaviors.  For example, perhaps he is the one being teased and is reacting to his situation.  However, others may be more "stealth" and he is who receives all the blame.  ( I am in no way condoning his behavior, however, he may be reacting vs. instigating.)

Also, he may need practice with social situations through group counseling where role playing is used to help children who have difficulties with comprehending social situations or misreading social cues.  When a child does not understand socially what is around him he may react in a negative fashion by misbehaving , having tantrums, crying or being very withdrawn.  Having an opportunity in a safe environment to encounter social situations and problem solve them in a small and accepting group would be helpful, perhaps.  You may wish to ask the school if such a group is possible for your son to join.

I wish you the best of luck and please let us know about his progress, if you wish.

Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families

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Additional Answers (1)

Loddie1 , Parent writes:
In this case, what you are dealing with is a frustrated child and rightly so. He is not only dealing with the handicap but also the emotional side of adjusting to school and the adoption situation. I would consider Christian counseling and remove him from a "big" environment. I would place him in a private school for now and work closely with him at home ( if not homeschool him). I would do this. Homeschooling can be a great atmosphere for children that suffer from disabilities and emotional issues. It is less pressure on him and he will actually learn more if done right. Good Luck :)
> 60 days ago

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