Is my 5 year old a bully?

I think Matthew may be turning into a little bully. On Friday, the crèche teacher approached me and said she has something to tell me. She kept Matthew with her, instead of letting him go to the back, so that he could hear what she was going to tell me. She said that the day before, she caught him kneeing a kid in the privates. She had to tell the child’s mom and luckily it wasn’t too serious but she did mention that it can turn out badly for Matthew if it continues. She mentioned that she had a word with him about his behaviour when the incident occurred but not half hour later, she caught him doing it again to another child. She did mention as well, that she thinks this is his way of playing but he needs to understand that we don’t play like that.

All I could think of to do was tell him that we will talk about it later when we get home. I spoke to him later and tried to explain that it’s wrong to hurt someone, that it makes them feel bad. I explained to him that if he does it again, Teacher is going to chuck him out of the crèche (that means that he won’t be able to ever go back) and then he can’t go to big school if he doesn’t finish the year at the crèche. Was this too much for a 5 year old?

Guys, I don’t know how to handle this. I don’t how not to turn my kid into the next Dexter. We try to teach him right from wrong, we try not to let him watch any violent programs on tv, we try, we really do. But how do I handle this one?


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Any advise on what to do will be appreciated.


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8 thoughts on “Is my 5 year old a bully?

  1. moonstormer says:

    I’m certainly no expert on this, but I think you did well to explain it to him. I think also maybe ask him why he was doing what he did – if you can understand what he was thinking, maybe you can change that thinking. Also, maybe appeal to his empathy; how does he feel when kids are mean to him or if they were to hurt him? so why would he want to do that to anyone else?

    i think every kid goes through different stages, and maybe he’s just testing this out. but better to stop it before it really starts.

    • Kim Muller says:

      Thanks Moonstormer. I have had a chat to him before about how he would feel if someone did something bad to him but perhaps it’s a good idea to have that chat again.

      I do understand that children go through stages and I wouldn’t have let this stage get me this out of sorts if it wasn’t for the teacher and her threats. I can’t have Matthew kicked out now so I need to do something to nip it in the bud.

  2. debraaukett says:

    I think every child experiences it at some stage or another… and they do test their limits from time to time. A nice chat heart to heart will do the trick, I am sure of it. Try to find stories online, I once found a nice one on Youtube, but don’t have the link anymore, that illustrates bully type behaviour in a nice way for kids to understand.

  3. eattrainbeingwoman says:

    Hi Kim, Dama here. I think what you did is awesome. What I think also works is reinforcement of the rules and acknowledging when they are really trying even when they aren’t getting it right 100% of the time. I am not really sure if at that age talking about this over and over works, but I think it may work. Remind him of the natural consequences, such as being expelled from his school. Then have other consequences in place, to try and correct the behavior. Also, try to find out why he is doing that. I was told that my 12yo threatens to beat other kids at aftercare, which was very unusual and unexpected as we have never seen him like that before. Hubby suspected that he felt “unheard” and he is probably trying to assert himself. When we got home I told him what the teachers said, with little emotion attached, and asked him what had happened. He told me that yes, he did threaten to beat that boy up, the reason was that they were teasing him and he had told them several times to leave him alone, but they keep on doing that, and that is when he lost it and promised to beat them up, and yes, had he been tested, he would have really tried to beat him up. However, the teacher was ONLY called when HE was threatening the boy and NEVER asked what happened, and she just started telling my son to stop it as that is unacceptable behaviour. Yes, I agree it is unacceptable, but then one needs to get to the root of the issue and not only jump in at the end result/behaviour. Good luck hun, this parenting business is really tough.

    • Kim Muller says:

      Thanks Dama! Really appreciate your awesome response!

      I’m trying to get to the root of it but I want the drama around the issue to die down a little bit first. I’ve started with Youtube videos as per Debra’s suggestion and created a list of rules. But I agree, there is always a root cause and we need to figure it out to get the behaviour fixed. I just needed an immediate response to the situation and I’m glad a few people agree with the way I handled it initially.

      He is normally a well behaved and respectable little boy, so this was very out of character for him. We do reinforce rules till we go blue in the face. But I believe at this age, repetition is the only way they learn.

      Thank you so much for the comment!

  4. catjuggles says:

    I do think you handled it well and no, it’s not too much. He needs to know the consequences – it’s the only way to learn. While I do think a lot of kids go thorough this and test the limits in this way, I also think it needs very firm action to avoid future issues.

    What however you can look into is the fact that most bullies are being bullied or have been bullied elsewhere. A lot of the times by older kids – be it at school or in the family . Maybe have a look at that?

    Also a practical illustration can help. Hold him down, let him feel helpless without hurting him and then ask him how he feels about that. Explain that being bullied feels the same way

    • Kim Muller says:

      Thanks catjuggles. Really glad that you guys agree with the way I handled this. I think you’re right, though. My niece is 3 years older than him and that may be where the bullying from the other side is coming in. Will definitely have a look into it. I’ve used some of the suggestions I’ve received and there seems to be a massive improvement. I have also tried to make him understand that it’s not to hurt other people and often remind him of how he thinks his brother feels when he hurts him. Will also keep your suggestion on file in case i need it. Thank you again!

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