View Full Version : When kids are mean...

05-25-2011, 03:23 PM
I need to say this out loud to folks who will get it.

My middle son is a little quirky and different and has a difficult time with other kids. He is also sweet, kind, empathetic, and very loving and loyal. He is blessed with a couple good friends and one best friend. My youngest son is outgoing and everybody is his friend. He has tons of friends and plays well with everyone. Except his own brother. There is an 18 month age difference and that is just hard for the both of them.

Two neighborhood boys play here regularly with my youngest ds, Sam, even though the boys are the same age as my middle ds, Paul,...with me, still?

Both neighborhood boys have at different times pointedly left out Paul. Both have also said cruel things to or about Paul. Each time, Sam has been involved, agreed with it, gone along with it, and/or instigated it.

Each time, I have found Paull crying from being left out. He has a few times attempted to "make them like him" by just going along with what they want, or saying, "Don't worry. I won't embarrass you if you invite me to go along with y'all to ____________."

Currently, Sam is grounded for telling Paul that one friend didn't want him along because Paul might embarrass them in public, in addition to other cruel things. Just a few minute ago, I found the friend in the yard with Paul, who was "making his case" about not embarrassing the friend and "really, you can take me, I'll act normal, I promise. Just sometimes, I get lost in my imagination."

I told the friend that Sam was grounded for six days, why, and that he was
invited back when Sam was done with his grounding IF he and Sam could be kind to Paul.

I know that is too detailed and I know kids can be cruel, but I am upset and needed to tell someone who gets it.

Is my Sam ever going to get it?
How sad is it that Paul feels the need to apologize to be accepted?
How can I handle this with neighborhood kids? They play here daily.

05-25-2011, 03:53 PM
I'd seriously consider banning this "friendship"! A few days grounding is not going to make enough of an impression. This behavior will not stop. It may go "underground", but it's not going to stop, and your ds2 cannot be expected to stand up against *2* older boys whom he wants to be accepted by.

Your younger son needs to know with absolutely NO doubt that this treatment of his brother is NOT OK. Loyalty to family comes before friendship. And ds1 needs to know that you guys will protect him.

Rachel Jane
05-25-2011, 03:56 PM
That breaks my heart.

Rachel Jane
05-25-2011, 04:47 PM
Luke says, "Those 'friends' have to go."
Jeremy says, "After 6 days, if they apologize, then they can play again, but if it happens again, they are not allowed to hang out with your sons any longer. Yes, Sam will get it. Just let him grow up some more."

Rachel ;) says, "Poor Sam. He is throwing his brother under the bus to try to be liked. Why?"

I am not condoning Sam's behavior at all, but it is usually folks who feel bad about themselves that are unkind to others. :sad: Perhaps this 6 days can be a week of family only fun times?

Robin in Colorado
05-25-2011, 05:10 PM
It's stinky that this should happen at the beginning of summer.

In my extended family I have seen the bad fruit of brother not getting along with brother, and what that carried throughout both their lives. I have seen sister feel so misunderstood by her siblings that she withdrew from them and their parents for over 20 years.

Perhaps if you took this time to focus on family. Make as much as you possibly can a family-and-family-only activity. Plan lots of fun things to do, little outings or things around the house, for the family. Talk about your family as a team, and how everyone is different and everyone is needed and everyone is valuable. Reward every kindness to each other, no matter how small. Jump on every meanness with both feet. Give each one a small notebook and ask them to record two good things about his brother and one good thing about himself. Meet with each boy first thing every morning and talk about the notebook, and what's in it, and pray together.

Don't give up, dear one. Be purposeful and do whatever you need to do. There is no guarantee that Sam will get it, but I believe that if you continue in prayer and 'do not grow weary' that both Sam and Paul will be transformed by this.

ETA: I just thought of some things. Knights and adventure and brotherhood! Summer is a great time for read-alouds about knights; for adventure movies with the brotherhood theme. I'm thinking of Robin Hood; King Arthur; the Three Musketeers; whatever. Whatever you can do to foster that feeling of 'all for one and one for all', of 'we're in this together', of 'no one messes with my family, not nobody, not no how'.

And talk about it, talk about the nobility, the greatness, the values of loyalty an honor and dignity, and how they are becoming men and this is how men behave. It's never too early, imho.

Sheryl in NH
05-25-2011, 05:26 PM
Robin shares wise advice.

Does your youngest have a safe place to share just how difficult it is to have a "quirky" sibling? From personal experience, complaining to mom and dad usually results in getting in trouble, but there aren't any other adults who will listen. Kids will listen and agree with you, but that can lead to even bigger problems. It really isn't right for him to be ganging up against brother with his friends, but I can see how he landed there. It is hard to have a sibling who isn't able to behave like all the other kids. Really hard. This doesn't excuse the behavior, but maybe you need to help him find a counselor or trusted friend to talk with. Maybe grandpa or your pastor could spend time with youngest talking and praying for his brother and for their relationship. Prayer works miracles.

Rachel Jane
05-25-2011, 05:29 PM
Just a thought...
what would happen if Sam said/did something unkind and instead of correcting him, say to the offended party, "I am sorry that Sam hurt your feelings." and let it go. Don't dwell on it to the offender or the offendee. Immediately move to whatever next thing you can possibly think of doing, even if it just to leave the room and go potty. :lol: Would this start to diffuse the situation in your home? It sounds like a habitual cycle in which you have all become stuck in the feedback loop.

05-25-2011, 06:15 PM
When my children can't be nice to each other, they aren't allowed to play with anyone else. Friendships between siblings are more important than any other friendships.

ETA: This week I retold the children the story of Moses, Miriam and Aaron. Remember, Moses felt that he wasn't able to speak well enough to be a leader of his people but he was the one chosen. Aaron was asked to do an important job by speaking for Moses, but he also made a huge mistake by giving in to the people's demand for an idol. Miriam also had an important job in leading worship, but she became jealous of Moses and was punished. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses and each are intended to fill a role- even the quirky ones.

05-25-2011, 06:28 PM
All wonderful advice, ladies, thank you.

Sam probably does need to vent about his quirky sibling and while I routinely talk about this with our oldest, John Henry, I had no thought it was time to talk to Sam about it. So, good point!

Sam is a sweet and wonderful, though sarcastic and witty boy. He is the most sensitive to other people, especially older or sick people. However, his and Paul are like oil and water sometimes....most time lately. Paul is as much to blame and Sam in it, but Sam has the advantage in the friend department and has just begun to play it.

I talk to Paul about being a more flexible playmate and I talk to Sam about being a more patient and welcoming playmate. I talk and talk.

Also, I called the parents of the friend and they are very upset with their son. They will make this right and I knew that before I even called. They are nice people who are raising their children right. I am more upset that my Sam has taken to being so cruel. He used to stand up for his brother and for his sister (who is often pushed aside by one playmate for being too young and a girl!). Sam desperately wanted to go to the pool with this friend and he was saying just about anything to go, I fear. I am disappointed and sad about his role in this and he is being suitably punished.

But my heart broke when I overheard my Paul saying he'd "act normal" to that child. I couldn't speak and had to simply walk away.

I will be working on this all summer. It is a must.

Robin in Colorado
05-25-2011, 07:47 PM
:sad: Esther, my mommy-heart hurts for yours.

One thing that jumps out at me is that both your boys see Paul's behavior as not 'normal'. That's probably unsettling for Sam and painful for Paul.

It is hard to think of yourself as 'not normal.' Please consider working into your work with the boys what 'normal' really means, and what it doesn't (what is a norm? is the norm always good? do you want to be a norm follower or a norm setter?) and when it matters (in college sociology classes) and when it doesn't (the rest of the time) and learning to focus on celebrating their differences.

I often have to remind my dc that God made them as gifts not only to their parents but to their siblings. He knew that (sibling) must have something you need, and something you will treasure, but you have to dig for treasure. Once you've found it, though, you never let it go.


05-25-2011, 08:41 PM
You are right, Robin. This "normal" and "not normal" business is brand new. We have never said Paul was not normal and I have not heard this from my boys. We have always emphasized that God made each one of us unique and special, with special talents and yes, weaknesses. This is coming from friends, I fear.

This is the part that just breaks my heart. That my child thinks he is not normal. I cannot even type that without crying.

Robin in Colorado
05-25-2011, 08:46 PM
This is the part that just breaks my heart. That my child thinks he is not normal. I cannot even type that without crying.

:group::group: I know, and I am so sorry.

It's amazing what we pick up from "friends." sigh..

05-25-2011, 09:14 PM
They don't necessarily pick it up from friends, IMO. My son became very self-aware at age 9 and started being very unhappy about his differences. They can look at their siblings, other kids, television programs, and just other people in general and figure it out. :unsure:

Melissa Crabtree
05-25-2011, 09:18 PM
:group: I'm so sorry. I understand the frustration with neighbor kid behavior woes! Hearing that conversation you mentioned would break my heart for sure.
Agreeing with all the above (wise!) advice. And what a blessing to have the other kid's parents on your side. That's huge!

Rachel Jane
05-25-2011, 09:22 PM
This is the part that just breaks my heart. That my child thinks he is not normal. I cannot even type that without crying.

:cry: :cry: :cry:

Cate OH
05-25-2011, 09:46 PM
This is the part that just breaks my heart. That my child thinks he is not normal. I cannot even type that without crying.

It's hard to read that without crying! Those words tear a mother's heart in two! :sad:

:group: Hugs! :group:

Julie in AZ
05-25-2011, 11:16 PM

This is the part that just breaks my heart. That my child thinks he is not normal. I cannot even type that without crying.

I'm sorry. Praying for all their hearts and yours! :group:

Gwen in Texas
05-25-2011, 11:31 PM
They don't necessarily pick it up from friends, IMO. My son became very self-aware at age 9 and started being very unhappy about his differences. They can look at their siblings, other kids, television programs, and just other people in general and figure it out. :unsure:

Yes. I remember Nate crying and saying, "I just want to be a normal boy." I don't think anyone had called him a freak or anything. He just knew. :( They know the score. Better to talk about it, whether you call it struggles, difficulties, differences, quirks, whatever. Name it, embrace it, deal with it. It's time.

I'm so sorry. :group:

Chris D.
05-26-2011, 02:15 AM
Nothing to add but just big hugs and I'm praying right now for comfort and peace in your son's heart and just a huge sense of love and acceptance by God and his parents to comfort him.

Jo in PRC
05-26-2011, 11:28 AM
:group: So sorry that you are all struggling through this. :group:

Alice R
05-26-2011, 03:04 PM
Esther, I'm so sorry to hear of all of this.

There are a couple of things going on and everyone mentioned something really good. This is a complex situation and a lot to be thought about and addressed.

1. The friend was mean
2. Brother went along with the mean
3. Brother is aware older brother is quirky and is starting to feel funny about it
4. Older brother has decided he is "not normal" :sad:

You've taken care of the friend problem. ;)

Younger brother has to work on NOT going along with friends when they are acting badly. This is a life skill for children and adults.

Younger and older brother need to work on their relationship. I'm an only child but I think this is also a lifelong process. ;)

Younger brother has to learn to deal (and love) a quirky older brother. This one is challenging but I think you can work through it with like you did with your other son.

The toughest one, I think, is how to deal with your older son's self image and the "normal" word. :sad:

Sending you big hugs. :group:

laurie in ok
05-27-2011, 07:59 PM
Esther - I am so sorry. :sad: I am praying that you are able to get to your ds' heart about his relationship with his brother, and that Paul is able to like the person he is.

My kids know that if there is a person that consistently brings out a negative side of them - that friend is gone. I won't allow friendships that encourage my kids to do or say xyz. I think I would give fair warning - but let Sam know that if you learn of any more of this behavior - this friendship is done for the entire summer.

Also - you may have your younger son start an evening journal. In the journal he can vent about things that bothered him with his brother - but you can also then encourage him to write about things that went well his brother that day.

Just trying to think with you.