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Son bullying others
Posted on: 12/29/2002
I recently went to my son's school to give him some medicine for a stomach ache and in the same room was one of the kids he plays football with. My son is a big 7th grader, and the other boy is an 8th grader. My son is gifted at playing football and the other boy is only mediocre. Unfortunately he has let it go to his head. My son was bullying the other boy, telling him he's no good, he's slower than everyone else on the team and that no one will want him on their team when he reaches high school. He even went so far as to tell the boy that in watching films from the games, everyone, even the coaches, comment about how slow he is. Personally I know that this boy is subject to emotional abuse at home from his father. My son is totally insensitive to that when he gets into his bullying mode. He's a cocky kid, and watching him bullying others only makes me angry. I tell him to stop, but he doesn't see the harm in it. He doesn't see it as bullying. What can I do? Is this a guy thing that I don't need to worry about? Or will it only get worse over time? Thank you.
Dear Parent: You are right to be concerned about your son's bullying and this is not just "a guy thing." Bullying indicates an insecurity on the part of the person doing the bullying. Students may do it for a variety of reasons including getting attention, inducing fear, popularity seeking, jealousy, and most often to be in control. With a middle school student, get into a discussion about why this is happening. Make it clear that bullying is not acceptable at home or at school. You may need to follow this up with a restriction of significant priviliges to show it is important. Talk with your child about ways of coping with frustration and aggression. Be sure to reward more appropriate behavior. Talk to the teachers or coaches about your concern and get them to back you up by helping both the bully and the victim find more acceptable behaviors and model howto talk about differences. Bullying is wrong and should be stopped!
Nancy Brown, Ph.D.