kristinlulu asks:

How can I stop my first grader from bullying others?

My 7 year old has had problems with the same boy all year. At the beginning of the year he was going along with his friends to pick on this boy. We punished him, made him apologize and it stopped.
Now, it has started again and my son is the only one picking on this boy. This boy is a little slower than the other kids but I didn't know this until the teacher told me. My son has been taking all of the boy's school work and hiding it in the classroom so he can't turn it in. And when this boy is chosen to collect papers my son refuses to give his up. I am appalled by this behavior as he was doing this on his own without any peer pressure to influence him.
We have been in a custody battle for the past two years and his grandfather passed away in January but I don't if that has anything to do with it or not. Help!
In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Mar 5, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

You sound like you are frustrated and a little disappointed in your son€™s behavior toward his classmate.  It is great that you are looking at what you can do to help him.  It sounds like your son may enjoy having some control over the other boy.  You mentioned that a grandparent died and that you are currently in a custody battle.  While these may not directly be contributing to your son€™s behavior, they may be contributing to his need to control something or someone.  You may want to consider some of the following ideas:  
Identify what things your son has control over, what decisions does he get to make?  At 7 years old, they shouldn€™t be making too many decisions for themselves, but you may want to ask their input on simple things like what to eat for dinner or an activity to do together.
How often are you able to spend one-on-one time with him with no other distractions?  Being a parent can be very demanding with down time being almost non-existent.  Look for small amounts of time each day to spend with your son whether it is reading a book, playing a word game in the car or a board game at home.
What kind of positive messages does he get at home€”praise, hugs, €œI love you,€" etc.?  Fill your child with positives, let him know he is special and how much you care about him.
Consistency in a child€™s daily schedule can help as well.  Standard bedtimes, meals together, and letting them know what is on the family€™s schedule for the next day can help a child feel more in control of his daily life.
Lastly, you may want to discuss these options with your son€™s father if he is involved in raising your son.  If your son feels that there is a struggle between the two of you, it may also contribute to a feeling of not being in control.
Hopefully some of these ideas will be helpful to you and your son, and you can begin to feel better about how he interacts with others!

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Additional Answers (1)

lkauffman writes:
Hi Kristin,

I imagine it must be very frustrating to see your son engaging in bullying behavior. It is difficult to say with certainty what has influenced your son's behavior, but there is quite a bit of research to show that children who bully often had bullying behavior role-modeled for them. Thus, your son was most likely affected by observing and participating in the bullying in the past.

In addition, I wonder how the custody battle between you and your former partner has affected your ability to parent as a "team." As you may have heard, it is very important that you and your former partner strive to apply consistent parenting practices and routines between your two households. It is not uncommon for parents to struggle in this area during a divorce or custody battle. Thus, you should consider sitting down with your former partner to agree upon parenting practices.

Moving forward, I suggest that you and your former partner continue to communicate a firm stance against bullying. It would be quite powerful to have the two of you together when you talk with him about his behavior. Inform him that you recognize that that he is not mean spirited, but you can see that he is making some wrong choices. Tell him that you will not tolerate bullying behavior and that you will work with his teacher and principal to help him change his behavior. Finally, you might set up time for him to talk to the school counselor or an outside mental health professional.

Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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