Thursday, 2 May 2013

Why a child might bully

Since Easter my 10 year old son hasn't been his usual self. He's been quiet, unhappy, argumentative, rude and aggressive, not just at home but at school as well, bullying his sisters at home and younger children at school. 

My son and youngest daughter on her Christening day

Last week his teacher pulled me to one side and asked me if anything was bothering him as he wasn't his usual self in class. Quiet and withdrawn and not joining in with the class, a complete opposite to how he usually behaved and she was worried about him. She said he had been like it since the Easter holidays.

But what had happened during the Easter holidays to make him so upset?

That was an easy question to answer. We discovered our new baby is another girl, our 4th daughter!

My son has been desperate for a brother for years, even when I was pregnant with my 3 year old, he would come to every scan I had and his first question was always the same "Is it still a girl?" Once she made an appearance he loved her, but he was still disappointed she wasn't a brother.  

Before I fell pregnant again, he would often tell me how much he wished he had a brother and that he hated the word brother as he didn't have one. He would tell me he wished I would have another baby but that this one would be a boy. I would tell him that we weren't planning on any more children but even if I did, I couldn't guarantee it would be a boy as you don't get to choose. 

So when we discovered at the beginning of the year that I was pregnant again he was very excited. Every time he mentioned the baby he would call it his brother and he was planning on how he would divide his bedroom, share his toys, what he would teach his brother and the things they would do together as the baby grew up. 

Then I went for my scan. 

He wanted to come with me but as it was my daughters 8th birthday a few days later I took her as a pre-birthday treat. 

It was a difficult scan as the baby didn't want to co-operate and my body doesn't like being scanned. I used to think it was because I was overweight but the lady doing the scan explained that it was just my body's makeup. Sometimes people's bodies don't react very well as they seem to absorb the sound waves and it could happen to someone who was a size 8 as easily as it could happen to someone who was a size 30. She told me that she'd scanned larger women than me easily and struggled with women a lot smaller than me.

It didn't help as well that the baby was lying face down on her stomach!

We asked what the sex was and she did say that she thought she was a girl, although she couldn't be 100% sure because of how difficult the scan was. 

However we took her at her word and bought some pink gloves for her as a way to tell daddy and the others what she was. 

When we finally made it home, as soon as we'd gotten out of the car, everyone was crowding around me wanting to know if we were having a boy or girl! I told hubby to go in my pocket and he pulled out the pink gloves!

My son took one look at the pink gloves in his daddy's hands and knew what it meant. He went wailing upstairs to his bedroom and lay on his bed for over an hour sobbing. It broke my heart to see him so unhappy.

I had another scan 2 weeks later because of how difficult the 1st scan was and we took my son with us. Sadly the baby was sitting Budda style with her feet tucked under her bum and no amount of coaxing would get her to move! I will have some more scans as I get closer to my due date as I'm diabetic and now on insulin so they need to monitor how big she gets, especially as my babies are usually around the 9lb mark (8lb 13oz, 10lb 14oz, 9lb and 8lb 15oz).

On Monday night I was messaged by a parent who told me my son had been mean to her son aged 5, although in his defence it wasn't just him and he's now been told to stay away from the other child involved. We had a chat but he wasn't very receptive  crying and lying and doing all in his power to get out of trouble. His dad actually took him to the boys house and made him apologise and he was given a warning that if he didn't stop and his behaviour didn't improve then he would have to face the consequences. He was also reminded that he wouldn't like his 6yr old sister being bullied by an 11yr old so why was he bullying a child half his age! 

On Tuesday their headmaster called me to one side and he told me he was worried about my son's behaviour as well, he had been on a wind-up that day and very argumentative. He then asked me when my son was going to hospital about his stomach as he'd already had an x-ray. This was the first I'd heard of it, although he waiting to hear from the ENT as his been having pain in one of his ears and the grommet has just fallen out. 

Yesterday when I returned from my hospital appointment with the diabetic clinic I found another message from a different parent about his behaviour towards an 8yr old in his sisters class. At the time he was at his best friends house having tea, so as soon as he came home I called him into his room. 

Now the difference between last nights conversation and the conversation the other night is incredible. Tonight he was calm and admitted what he had done with no lying to try and get out of it. We discussed it together calmly and he explained he was trying to defend his 8yr old sister as she and the girl were arguing. I explained to him that whilst it was good he was looking out for his sister and trying to defend her, because they were just arguing he should have left them to work it out between them and not gotten involved. The only time he should get involved is if they were fighting or someone was hitting her, and that even then all he should do is separate them and then take his sister straight to the teacher. That he should never put his hands on a girl at all. I told him I was proud of him for telling the truth and not lying and that I was proud of him for looking after his sister. He said he hadn't liked how the girls mother had spoken to him, but I told him she was right to as I would've been the same had it been a boy in his class treating his sister the same way. We discussed what his punishment should be for misbehaving and we both agreed that he should miss three play sessions with the Play Rangers. We also discussed his behaviour in school and I told him that he has to try harder and behave, otherwise he would have to miss his school trip in July to Rhyd Ddu and up Snowdon, and be the only one left behind at school and to make things worse he should go to his sisters class instead!

I think the fact that we were both calm really made a difference. There was no shouting or accusations from either of us and when I finished I told him I loved him and I was proud of him for taking this all so well and he admitted he found his punishments fair. He then tidied his bedroom without being asked!

This morning when I took him to school, the first thing he did was apologise to the girl he hurt and then we saw his teacher together and discussed what we had agreed. When I went to pick him up from school today, both his teacher and headmaster came out to see me and told me how he had been a pleasure today, eager to help and please, doing his work tidily and none of the naughty behaviour they had seen recently. 

Hopefully we've turned a corner and he is realising what is what. We've also been trying to put the fact that the baby is a girl in a positive light as well, reminding him that although he might like a brother now, in a couple of years he won't like sharing his bedroom, sharing his toys, having his little brother trash his bedroom but he has to tidy it, broken toys, being quiet and no watching TV or playing on his playstation when his brother is in bed and no privacy as he hits his teens!

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