WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

One of my biggest fears as a parent is not finding out that my son is being bullied, but rather finding out that my son IS the bully. My hope is that by raising him to be self-confident and respectful of others, it will never happen.

But what if it does? How do you handle it when someone tells you that your child is bullying or beating up on kids and disrespecting authority figures? No one wants to believe that their child is responsible for that sort of behavior, but if you deny it instead of confronting it, doesn't that just exacerbate the problem?

I recently read this article about a 5-foot-10, 220-lb gym teacher who claims he was assaulted by a 50-lb, 6-year-old student. It seems ridiculous when put into those terms. How could a little boy possibly beat up and inflict real physical damage on a much larger adult?

That's exactly what the boy's parents said. "How could my little boy do so much damage?" said his father. "That is a terrible thing to say about a child," is how his mother reacted when she heard the teacher's lawyer refer to him as a "tiny terror."

I agree, that is a terrible thing to call a child. But what if it's true? How do you handle it if you discover your kid is bullying kids and lashing out at adults?

Photo by Flickr member sethph88, used under a Creative Commons License.

RWoodward


quality posts: 58 Private Messages RWoodward

The most important thing is to accept the situation. Way too many parents live in denial of their kids' social or psychological problems and will deny the problem, make excuses, deflect blame onto others, buy the kid's way out, or outright lie to cover up their problem.

Some kids are bullies. Others have rage issues. Some are even sociopaths. They can do serious harm.

Size has little to do with it. Many primates are smaller than a fully grown man, but quite capable of tearing a person apart, given sufficient motivation. Kids too can be deceptively strong, particularly when enraged. Add to this that most adults are conditioned against harming children, and do not expect a kid to launch a full-scale rage attack, and you've got a perfect scenario for a small person inflicting serious damage before the adult even realizes they are in danger.

The fact is that these behaviors almost never materialize out of thin air. Kids who are inclined to harm others display this quite early. They may hit siblings or playmates and take their things. They may hit parents or other adults as a way of getting attention (Oh, isn't that cute! He's a little tough man.) And most telling, they may injure or even kill pets. These can be indicative of a serious emotional problem. It's a mistake to ignore them. It's a bigger mistake to encourage them. And sadly, sometimes it's not enough just to teach the child right from wrong. Some kids don't fully develop a sense of empathy. They don't get right and wrong. They don't understand others pain. They just understand getting their way. If you suspect your child -no matter how young- may be a budding bully or even worse, act early and get him or her checked out by a qualified mental health professional. It could save you a lifetime of grief down the road.

matthew


quality posts: 20 Private Messages matthew

Yeah, I'd bet on the grown-up in a fair fight, but that's not what schoolkid-on-teacher violence is. Woe betide the teacher who answers a physical attack from a kid in kind.