Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Bullying and Exclusion

This year is Nathan's first one in Cubs.  I'm pretty nervous about it.  In Beavers, the kids are 5, 6 and 7.  No one expects a great deal from them and there's a lot of adult supervision and encouragement.  Now he's with 8, 9 and 10 year olds, which is a big jump.  They're expected to self-regulate more and be more independent.

I've also heard from one of the other parents that there is a bully in our group, one of the 10 year olds.  He's not in Nathan's sub-group of six but last year, they kept moving him around, so we could end up with him.  I have no idea which child is it, but Nathan is a potential target for bullies as he's got a quick temper and no idea how to build social alliances.

One of the moms was quite angry that this bully was allowed back into the program after making so many kids miserable last year.  On the one hand, I can see her point, on the other, I've been the parent being refused for what should be "open" programs, so it would make me very nervous as a precedent.

I think this is one of those things which regular parents don't think too much about.  No one thinks of their kids as being difficult or bullies, and for the most part, they're right.  I constantly worry about my kids being labeled as bullies and I know they're often the most difficult child in any given group.

With Nathan, he has a hard time understanding what is and isn't socially appropriate.  He tends to assume people will feel the same way he does, so if he thinks something is funny then it's a joke and if he's upset then it was an attack.  I could see him imitating a bully, thinking that the bully is being funny (since they often have their cronies laughing at their cruelty) and not understanding that he's hurting someone's feelings.  On the flip side, if he assumes someone is attacking him, he will lash back at them, even if the "attack" was an accident.  I'm working on both these things, but I doubt I'll ever be able to eliminate them completely.

With Alex, he is oblivious to tauntings but he still uses aggression sometimes to get what he wants, especially if he wants to get out of a given situation.  It's the downside of responding so predictably.  Since we remove him if he gets aggressive, it's become a tool to avoid having to endure things.  It's not his first choice, which is progress, but it's still clearly on his mental list of options.

The first meeting for Cubs went well.  The leaders told me that Nathan did well at paying attention and following instructions.  One of his leaders was his Beaver leader last year, so he's got someone who is familiar with him.  I think that's honestly the best I can hope for.

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