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My son: always the bad guy

Granted, I'm a little biased.  I like to think that my boy isn't always the culprit, the instigator, the initiator, the bad guy.  I know he's no angel, but I don't think he's always the bad guy, like his friend's mom likes to make out.

My boy's BFF is a like-aged boy.  They have similar interests (cars, planes, trains).  Sometimes they like to play "fight" or "karate".  They punch in the air near each other, play fighting.  They wrestle to the ground.  Sometimes, someone gets hurt.

My boy's BFF is sensitive, and my boy errs on the less sensitive side.  Any scratch can cause tears for a sensitive child.  When there is conflict, my boy's BFF is quick to raise the issue: "why did you push me?"  My boy, now hyper-sensitive about being accused, will often run from the scene, guilty-like behavior.

Once home, I will ask: "What happened today?  Why did you push?"  My boy will say: "Because he hit me first."

The scenario has played out several occassions in the same way: My boy, wrongfully accused, runs from the scene.  His BFF, potentially the instigator, cries out and points a finger.

I'm not one to intervene, but - at some point - I would like to set the story straight with the BFF's mama, who believes her son is always the victim.


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Find a new BFF. In a few months with other boys, you may see a change or a pattern. If your son is the common denominator in trouble, then maybe some social coaching is in order.

My son has always been big for his age, often a head or more taller than his friends. He's an active boy and until the age of 4, not very empathic (I think that's natural development for most kids). I've had people at the park and play areas ask that he not play with their children simply because of his size. I've even had parents accuse him of hurting their child when i witnessed him go over after the injury occurred to see if he could help.

I can't control other people's opinions, only help my son to see that he is a kind and caring person, even if other adults make snap decisions about him. I avoided places and friends that tended to put him in a position to be judged badly. I also worked on coaching him in what to do when an issue comes up. Speak up for himself if he is being wrongly accused, Be honest if he was at fault, If an accident happens ask if the injured person is okay and if he can help to make it better. I also modeled empathy and had honest discussions with him that he is stronger than the other kids so he has to be more careful. Even if a certain type of playing didn't hurt him it could hurt a friend because everyone experiences things differently and part of friendship is respecting those differences. It's not a quick fix, but slowly it's getting better.

Maybe have the kids practice talking the matter through right there with each other in front of both moms?

Hug. It is tough to parent nowadays. Seems like when I was a kid the victim was considered pathetic, while now the victim is the "winner". It would be nice if people could try a more matter-of-fact approach with less judgment involved.

How old are the kids?

I have three kids, and goodness knows, there are always two sides to every story. Every kid likes to point fingers, but I would guess there is some level of instigation from both sides.

Preschool aged kids absolutely do not have the experience to know when enough is enough, and they have a hard time reading other kids. So, if he is that age, I'd just suggest being present, and walking them through their differences using their words. You are sad because he pushed you. What happened before he pushed you? When you word it like that it shows empathy and that you aren't placing blame on anyone, just finding out what happened and guiding them to talk through it/recognize that every action has a reaction.

School aged kids should have had more socialization, and should have some sense of how to work out differences and acknowledgement of when things go too far. That's not to say then never need help walking them through things, but by 1st/second grade, and beyond, children should have a better sense for what is/isn't appropriate play. If that's not the case, you need to intervene and model that behavior until he feels comfortable using those words himself.

And really, I would also find some new friends. The other mom clearly doesn't think her child could be at fault (some day, she will learn her child is not perfect), and frankly, it sounds like that child may not be the best fit for your son's personality.

I know that we have had friendship incompatibilities for both my girls and my son. In one instance, I was trying to figure out how my daughter was contributing to the disfunction, and the teacher came out and said, "it's not your daughter - it's completely the other girl's fault." For a neutral third party to say that, I basically listened and said you will no longer be allowed to interact with that girl. In another case, my son was trying out a new group of friends, and he was still learning what is appropriate/trying to show off to be part of the group. He was 5 and the rest of the boys a year older. One of the other boys told him to do something totally inappropriate and he did it. In that case, I talked to him about what is/isn't appropriate behavior, and just role played what he should say if the boy did something like that again. It happened, he said no and told the teacher, and that was the end of the other boy telling him to do inappropriate things. The boys are still friends, and their behavior has improved to making better choices, simply as a factor of maturity.

So, different cases, different reactions. . . How does your son feel about this friendship? If the friendship is making him feel badly about himself, it's time to make some new more compatible friends.

Kids always say that the other one started/hit first. I am not sure that talking to the other patent will help if she seems to have made up her mind. Is there an objective third party, such as a teacher, that you can ask?
Most importantly, it is never too early to teach that hitting is not an appropriate response even if you were hit first. Teach to ignore or walk away. But if i understood correctly, maybe your son does not mean to hit, but he is simply playing rough.

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