How to deal with son's friends (10 year old)

missstellaOctober 31, 2008

My son has two friends who obviously don't value their friendship as much as my son does. Lately, there has been a lot of hurt feelings on my sons part because he has had great relationships with both of these boys for the past 5+ years and this year the two have teamed up against him and seemed to constantly tease or exclude him at school, at parties, etc.

I recognize that my son is probably more sensitive than he needs to be and he does let himself be annoyed by things that are just typical boy things. And admittedly, he can give as bad as he receives. His friends do not react to similar teasing but they do seem to enjoy it when my son does. When teasing starts my son often ends up "telling" which does little to mend things in the long run. My son does well with each of these boys one on one, but when all three of them are together my son always ends up odd man out. These are neighborhood boys who basically see each other at school, scouts, sports. Our families are part of a circle of neighborhood friends and avoiding them would be near impossible.

Now, here is the greater problem. Next week they are all scheduled to participate in a school trip (3 days away) and each boy has been asked who they want to room with on the trip. My son chose these two boys and another friend. The two boys each chose each other, my son's other friend and a third boy (who is not a friend of my son, but teases him also). The third boy my son chose asked to be with the two boys and their other friend--so in this senario my son has been either completely excluded or included in a group of boys that will likely tease him the entire trip.

Does any one have any suggestions on how I approach this either with my friends (the boys parents) or teachers (regarding the school trip). I have considered asking the teachers if they could place my son with his third friend but not the other two, but I would have to get this third friend to put my son his list to avoid the other boys on the trip.

I'm afraid the boys' parents don't see this as a serious situation since neither of their boys is the object of the tease/exclusion and my child is the sensitive one. If we avoid these two boys my son will be pretty much on the outside for the forseeable future and honestly this just breaks my heart and makes my really angry. My son wants to be friends with these boys but how can he retain the friendships and still stand his ground? Help.

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A friend of mine had the same problem with her son in the 5th grade. She ended up moving him to a very small private school where he fit in much better. She then worked hard with private coaches to work one on one with him on a regular basis, so that he became very good at a sport. They still got together with the friends who were teasing, just not as often with the kids, but the parents kept up the friendships. As the boy grew and became more confident in himself through his sport, and the small school helped him academically rise to a much higher level, he seemed to fit in a bit better. Now when he gets together with those friends, I believe it is easier.

They also built a few new friendships and I believe things are going better.

Other parents don't take this seriously until it is "their" kid experiencing it. I feel for your child.

Just make sure your desire for these friendships with "your" peers/friends, is not putting your child in a situation where the fit is not healthy for your son. You do not have to lose your friends, but encourage your son branch out and make some new friends over that have nothing to do with those boys.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 10:51AM
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My daughter was bullied from grade 6 to 8, by the same girl. My husband would tell my daughter "You only have 2 more years at that school and then u won't see them again. You can tough it out."

That was a mistake and she hasn't let us forget it either.

If your son will be happier at another school with other kids, I say DO IT. Don't wait for "things to get better". Chances are, they won't.

I totally agree with bnicebkind - You do not have to lose your friends, but encourage your son branch out and make some new friends over that have nothing to do with those boys.

That's what we did and it worked!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 1:17PM
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Your son may want to be friends with these boys but friendship is a two way street and clearly they want a different relationship at the moment. Considering the teasing I'm surprised your son wants to escalate his discomfort by rooming with his persecutors for three days. And I have to add, the "telling" is probably not helping him- is anything done when he "tells"?
Moving your son to another school may help a bit as it will decrease the amount of interaction between your son and these boys, though from what you've posted he will still encounter them in scouts and just around the neighbourhood. I'd sit him down and say, "Look, those boys don't want to be your friends right now, don't give them a target, just stay away and look for other friends." There must be other boys in your son's class he can relate to.
The harder he chases the teasers the more they will push him away. If he is aloof and content with other people, they may well become more interested in being friends again. It's a common dynamic.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 7:46PM
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Three is usually a crowd. Whenever you have more than 2 kids in a close friendship rifts are bound to happen.

I don't think that taking him away from these two boys is the answer. You can not keep taking him away from bullies, he needs to learn how to deal with them.

I would follow collenoz's advice about talking to your son about friendships and not allowing himself to be their target.

I would also call his teachers and let them know about the issue so they can keep an eye on it and maybe help encourage some new friendships. Sitting your child near a nice child and pairing them up on some assignments/activities could help to foster a friendship.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 6:56PM
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