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Anonymous
Anonymous asks:
Q:

Didn't know there was a "wrong crowd" in first grade. How can I help my son make better choices in friends?

My 7 year old son has been a good and empathetic boy for most of his life. For instance, when he was 2, he walked over to a complete stranger - a mother with a severely handicapped son - and just hugged the handicapped boy for a few minutes. We moved to a new state 3 years ago, and he started Kindergarten last year. For some reason, he tends to gravitate towards the troubled boys, and the bullies (some of these boys' parents are going through divorces, foreclosures, etc.). I thought is was still OK, as we've guided him to make better choices and not take part in bullying, even if his friends do, and to be honest at all times - even if he's afraid he'll get in trouble - he'll get in more trouble for lying. Until now, most teachers stated that he was not the "ring leader", and that he only seemed to follow what the other boys were doing. This morning, however, he pushed another boy off the jungle gym, "because he wasn't moving fast enough after the bell rang", and then proceeded to lie about it to the Principal. The boy is OK, with some definite bumps and bruises though. I am worried that my son is starting to become a bully himself and am at my wits end for how to curb this behavior. As a side note, he is an only child, is very responsible at home and offers to help with dishes, vacuuming, and takes care of all the pets in the house. I am not his biological mother, as she passed away when he was 6 months old, but he knows no other mom. Please help!
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

EdieRaether
Mar 10, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Oh boy, sensitive children in an insensitive world are a continuous challenge.
Children mimic and yes, he will begin to take on aggressive behaviors so
you need to have a talk with him about how he feels when hurting others and ask how HE would FEEL.  Increase his awareness and consciousness of the consequences of his behaviors.  BUT, if he is not making the right choices in friends, at age 7, it is fine for you to give the guidance needed and structure his time and activities so he is involved with children that reflect his basic values....or they will change!  
Also....he needs to be aware of the consequences of lying and discuss why telling the truth is a better alternative and why it works.   You can even role play the part so he is more in touch with how good it feels to come clean on things.
I have a ton of free blogs etc on facebook and if you go to www.stopbullyingwithedie.com  you can load up on free information and will soon be releasing a book Stop Bullying Now that answers these type questions in detail.
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Additional Answers (3)

lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Dear Anonymous,

I imagine it must be very distressing to hear that you son is struggling to make the right choices with who he spends time with and how to handle pressure to bully other children.

You may have heard that children who bully come from all walks of life and come is all shapes or sizes. There is no real true "stereotype" of who will bully. That said, we have learned that children who bully often embody one or more of the following characteristics: were bullied themselves, want to be in control, are feeling frustrated or anxious, and are quick to blame others.

There is much that you can do to help support your son. Bullying is considered a learned behavior that can be unlearned. As soon as he learns other ways of managing his uncomfortable feelings, coping with frustration, and dealing with his troublesome peer group, he won't need to lean on bullying techniques to get what he needs from others.

It sounds like you have already done a wonderful job of establishing good communication with your son and have been working on teaching him good values and how to make choices. Let him know what your expectations for his behavior are and make it clear that you and his father will not tolerate bullying behavior. Set some clear and consistent consequences if he engages in bullying behavior again. Explain that you understand that it can be hard to make the right choices all the time, so it is your job as his parent to help guide him and teach him what is right and wrong. Sometimes, that involves consequences. Thus, if you learn that he has engaged in more bullying behavior, the consequence will be X. You might also role-play strategies for handling difficult situations that involve conflict. When he displays good compassion, manages his feelings well, and copes with conflict, positively reinforce the behavior with a big hug, encouraging words, and some special time together (take a walk to the park, get a tasty snack together, etc).

I have also included a link below to an article with more tips and advice for dealing with a child who may be a bully.

Good luck!


Warm regards,
Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist and Education.com JustAsk Expert
http://www.drlaurakauffman.com/

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seximama27
seximama27 writes:
I don't have an answer but i have the exact same issue with my 7 year old daughter. She is a generally good child but has been getting in trouble in school in the last month due to the bad children she is choosing to hang out wit.
> 60 days ago

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MomtoLivandDee
MomtoLivand... writes:
I wish I had an answer! My daughter seems to be gravitating towards the wrong kids. It is the second day of school and she has already been in trouble.  She is acting very out of character. I am worried.
> 60 days ago

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