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Mean Kid At The Park - Part 2

Discussion in 'Schools/Playgroups/Daycares in Bay Area' started by englishtutorjul, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. englishtutorjul

    englishtutorjul Silver IL'ite

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    (Back with a more current version of my last post) My son is 9. He goes to a neighborhood park where he runs into an older kid (11) every now and then. Let's call this kid J. J is an extremely outgoing kid, who almost lives in the park. He has been caught using abusive language several times, and comes from a lower middle class family (only mentioning that to provide context for some questions that might arise from reading the next paragraph). He has been carrying a cell phone with him since he was 9.

    Of late, he has been looking for excuses to tell my son, that his parents (my husband and I) are spoiling him. For instance, when my son discusses a new toy with his other friends, J butts in and says that my son is being spoilt. My son retaliated, by asking how being given a toy is worse than being given a cell phone, to which the boy said, it was not just the toy, but all the other expensive things my son owns. Upon probing, we figured that J was referring to the play structure and trampoline we have at our home. My son was caught off guard and did not know what to say. Also, when my son retaliated with the point about the phone, J's friend supported J by telling my son, that J's parents can give him whatever he wants. My son is younger than both the boys by 2 years, so he couldn't tell the other kid, that the point about parents buying whatever they wanted applies to everyone, but the other kid conveniently chose to not bring it up when his friend J made that remark. Also, this friend of J butts in all the time, even though my son has never rubbed him the wrong way. Today when it happened again, my son told him to mind his own business, to which J stepped in and said that it was not a private property, so anyone could say anything.

    J also has anger management issues and threatens kids that he might just lose it! I am looking for ideas on what my son can say the next time, his parents are unnecessarily brought into a discussion, and also when J threatens him saying things like if he loses it, he will see that my son doesn't come out of it alive.
     
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    J's parents are Indian?
     
  3. englishtutorjul

    englishtutorjul Silver IL'ite

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    No. They are from Afghan. Talking to the mother proved futile in the past, so that isnt an option. The other kid’s parents are desis.

    I was looking forward to your response. Thanks for commenting. Waiting to hear what you think. This and a host of other , mean-kid-related issues that I brought up on this forum in the past, are eating me up. It is as if, I will have a nervous breakdown, thinking about it all the time. Am I over reacting?

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  4. englishtutorjul

    englishtutorjul Silver IL'ite

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    To add to the above, the other kid (desi) doesnt get the concept of sharing at all. He monopolizes the play structure at the park and refuses to take turns with the other kids. His parents are never with him, so when you request him directly to give up the swing for someone else, he just says he hasn’t had enough! Wondering if there is a playground etiquette around this!
     
  5. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    You are trying to do what a parent does: equip the child with skills to interact with other people and to navigate tricky situations.

    However you need to do a slight shift of the target or goal. The kids are arguing whether you are spoiling your son. You are trying to help your son bring more logic and fairness into a playground argument / exchange between 9-11 year old's. Logic and fairness in discussion need two willing participants.

    Shift the goal to: how can your son handle such discussions in a better way. Your job is to guide him towards coming up with solutions himself. Don't provide ready-to-use solutions or statements. Guide him. So that he slowly learns how to come up with solutions more and more by himself.

    If you and he discuss the issue and you refrain from criticizing the other kids (and their parents), you and your son will start to find ideas worth trying. I could think of a few from your description:

    "when my son discusses a new toy with his other friends"
    Talk with your son about what happens when we have something that others don't yet. At 9, he is old enough to get the politics between families who own a house versus who rent. : ) My DD at that age started to get the politics between SAHM and working moms. : ) So, brainstorm with your son if discussing new toys with friends (who don't have that toy yet) is always a good idea. You might find that he is (unwittingly) bragging about the new toys? Tell him how as an adult you had friends from a different economic status and how that impacted your friendship, how you remained friends in spite of that.

    Winning an argument:
    Outside of high school debate competitions, it is rarely a useful victory. Teach him methods to deflect an argument. Just one example, he can turn the discussion into "my mother buys stuff for me to keep up with her friends." Cribbing about parents can be a strong bonding mechanism among pre-teens and of course teens. Or, your son can agree with the boys that you are spoiling him. Agreeing with the opposition is a tried and tested way to defuse a situation.

    Invite the kids to use the "expensive toys":
    The Indian thing to do is to one-up the other child in the argument about "parents spoiling kid." The American thing is to invite the kids to share the expensive toys. If it is safe for your kid to go to the park, it is safe to invite those kids to your backyard to use the trampoline and play structure. If that is not a viable option for whatever reason, then reflect on that reason. Inclusiveness is an important skill to learn. More so in the current times.

    Am I over reacting?
    Yes. But most parents would. After some over-reacting myself and getting too involved in he-said she-said, she-started it first kind of arguments, I learned that unless my kid is being seriously bullied or is unable to have even one friend to hang out with, I should let him handle such things himself. The other kid(s) not sharing swing, kid saying 'your parents spoil you', kid using profanities do not fall under bullying. It is hard, very hard, to watch one's kid getting the short end of the stick in any situation*. Harder to stay quiet.

    All that you have described are non-issues, standard stuff for the playground.

    * In high school, the Afghan kid from a lower middle class family might find more internship and other opportunities available to him. Colleges might prefer him over kids with your son's profile. Asian-American male student applying for a STEM major is the toughest profile to have. I digress. : ) What to do.. it is college decisions season and I am fielding whining along these lines from my mommy-friends. : )
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
  6. englishtutorjul

    englishtutorjul Silver IL'ite

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    Thanks for the detailed response Rihana, love the perspective you bring in, every single time.
    Just kinda hard when the kid starts with an accusatory time, especially when he was not the one being talked to, about the toy! He butted in, when my son was talking to a friend of his.
    I figured I must add in some more details here. Our house is literally like an informal playground, with my son having friends come by, on an almost daily basis. My son and I have personally invited J to join in, since he would come by to say a hi to the other common friends who would drop in at our house. The one time J agreed to come in, his mother showed up at our house the very next day, to tell me not to allow her son into my house. I told her that he mentioned he has permission from her, to which she said, he was lying. I later learned from some other neighbors, that the kid is not allowed to go into anyone's house - had to do with some strict religious rules from what I was told. Since then J has been giving us a hard time, either by just coming upto our front yard and saying things like "my mom has forbidden me to enter your house, and I could care less" or "I have come here to say hi to other friends, you are not one of them" etc. J was clearly jealous from what I could tell. There was nothing my son could do, to calm him down, so I told my son to step back. With the change in weather, my son started going back to the park since last few weeks. Thats where the trouble started again.
     
  7. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you. This hair did not turn grey in the glorious CA sun. It was years of overreacting to school and academics and extracurriculars that did it.

    Continuing with my hatke perspective... at 9, you should start tuning out the sounds of such conversations. And you shouldn't be spending time recalling so much of those conversations.. So short life.. so much Netflix... : )

    That makes it easier to decide on the approach. Not being allowed to go into anyone's house can be tough on a 11 year old. Tougher than being a vegetarian in a cafeteria where the only choices are rare or medium <meat>. This is an opportunity to teach your child compassion and empathy.

    Jokes aside, I am not trying to be annoyingly preachy here. It is really a good opportunity to talk about compassion, empathy and understanding the reason for another's person's actions and choices. As our children grow up into an increasingly diverse world, this is an important skill and character trait to develop. For example, not all Afghans do, but many of them have stories from back home that are disturbing. If your son sees you being kind to that kid in spite of that kid's behavior, it will be a lasting lesson.

    My son is doing an online college course. One of his groupmates in a project is an 18 or 19 year old from a remote African country who attends this online class while on the job as a security guard in a private warehouse (in the U.S.) It was kind of hard for us to talk after dinner that night when my son talked about his classmate. We felt subdued and didn't know what to say or think about the disparity.

    Unrelated: what did you end up paying for the tennis lessons? : )
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
    englishtutorjul and Vedhavalli like this.
  8. englishtutorjul

    englishtutorjul Silver IL'ite

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    Thanks again for the response, I will sleep on it.
    You mean Badminton and not Tennis.:) Settled on $20 per class, for two classes per week and tutor’s choice of place.
     

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