My 3-Year-Old Son Is Bullying a Nonverbal Boy We Live With: How Can I Teach Him Not to Be a Bully?

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QUESTION: How Can I Teach My Son Not to Be a Bully?

“I recently moved in with some friends who have a nonverbal three-year-old boy, and my boy is three years old. How should I handle my son bullying their son?

It’s really difficult… my son will hurt him (pull his hair; hit, kick, and annoy him (the nonverbal boy) until he’s crying and not tell the truth about what happened until I threaten a spanking.

We’re not moving, and he needs to learn how to interact with people who aren’t the same as him, and I’m honestly getting scared.”

RELATED: My Daughter’s Teacher Is a Bully: Advice?

My 3-Year-Old Son Is Bullying a Nonverbal Boy We Live With: How Can I Teach Him Not to Be a Bully?

Community Answers

The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

“If that was my nonverbal child I wouldn’t have another child around who’s bullying him.”

“Why is he allowed to hit, kick and pull this boy’s hair until he is crying? At the first sign of aggression, you need to immediately remove him from the situation and put him in timeout with a clear explanation of why. Each time he STARTS to be aggressive, same thing, time out, explanation. Be consistent. Until he learns to not be violent with the boy, he should never be left unsupervised and close attention should be paid. Don’t wait until it’s escalated to crying. Also, threatening violence as a result of violence. No. You need to punish and follow through every.single.time.”

“Stop threatening punishment and actually follow through with it. Whether it’s a spanking or time out or toys taken away.”

OMG, some of these answers… they are both 3 FFS! Supervise them when they are playing sit down and play with them teach your child appropriate play and praise when he does! Yes, you need to stamp out the negative behavior but you also need to model positive behavior. If all he is hearing is no you can’t do that or not that’s not nice he will keep trying until he finds an alternative, why not show him the alternative and what he should be doing it will save a lot of unnecessary punishment.”

“How are you expecting him not to hit and those other behaviors when you are spanking? That’s teaching him the behaviors.”

“Don’t leave them alone… set an example by playing with the other boy and also including your son with a lot of positive talk about how nice it is to play together and be kind. ‘Hands are for helping not hurting.'”

“I think everyone is blowing this way out of proportion!! She isn’t letting her son hit the other boy at all, she’s teaching him not to. Some kids are hard to teach at that age and simply don’t understand or they just don’t care. I have a 3-year-old little brother that doesn’t like other kids so when I come around with my 17-month-old son he gets jealous, tries hitting biting, throwing toys… and while all of us are in the room it just happens so fast…

… So we tell him you don’t hit, hitting other kids is not okay he gets a timeout and made to say sorry to the other kids. Nobody is letting anyone hit their kids by any means! Kids are all learning at different stages, as long as you are making sure that they know they cannot do that and try stopping it from happening…

… When I go over to my parents we have to stay right on top of my son so that he doesn’t get hurt and no it won’t always be like this but the kids are learning I’m not going to keep my son from his grandparents but I’m also not going to let him get beat on. I wouldn’t let him do that to anyone either.”

“Stop spanking him and use more positive reinforcement. Hitting him to teach him not to hit makes zero sense.”

“This sounds like he’s communicating the only way he knows how… violently. Show him the proper way of communicating with him.”

“It looks like you haven’t introduced the concept of one’s feelings. Since very young it’s important to teach our kids that we have feelings like happy, sad, mad, upset, excited, etc. Seems like your child has the understanding the other kid is nonverbal and is taking advantage of that but he doesn’t know how to treat other kids either. So instead of threatening him with a spanking, change it up and have him face the wall while holding a book above his head, have him sit on the side in a timeout…

… Don’t forget to do things together with both kids to avoid jealousy. In order for your kid to be feel good and be happy he needs to be “celebrated” so lots of positive encouragement and go down to his level. Be a kid with him because it looks like he’s just asking for attention. When kids don’t get that loving positive attention during playtime or at all they act out. That’s one of many reasons why kids become bullies. Good luck.”

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