Monday, February 20, 2012

Kick Me

My poor sweet Evan. The younger brother. He wants nothing more than to play with his older sibling and be just like him. He follows him around like a little puppy dog, mimicking what he says and trying like hell to impress.

Zack and Evan's relationship certainly has blossomed over the past year. Zack went from merely ignoring his baby brother to loathing him. But something has happened over the past twelve months and the boys have become friends. It has been sweet relief. It brings me such joy to see these two brothers dreaming up trips to outer space and plotting mutiny against their parents. Of course it isn't always sunshine and roses, they bicker and fight like all siblings, but underneath it they seem to generally enjoy each other.

Until Zack has a friend over. Once Zachary has a buddy his age to play with, Evan is left behind (screaming) in the dust. Poor thing. It would be one thing if the older kids simply ignored Evan, but they seem to prefer to torture him. "Baby" they sneer. "Your the bad guy!" they cheer. They say he has germs, they laugh when he gets hurt, they try to play tricks on him, and my sweet boy keeps coming back for more.

Most of Zachary's friends are very nice kids, but something seems to happen to them once they are in the presence of Zack's younger brother. I don't know what the equation is. Is this a common phenomenon, or does Evan have the proverbial "Kick Me" sign tattooed to his tiny back? I am often left at a loss. In the absence of their parent, I find it difficult to discipline a child that is not mine. I have tried asking Zack to set an example for his friends, but he is easily persuaded in vilifying little Evan. I have asked the Zack's friends nicely, and then firmly to stop the teasing, but eventually it starts up again.

It hurts me to see my baby made fun of and picked on. I worry that he is going to come to expect meanness and disrespect. I want to stand up for my child, while helping him stand up for himself as well.

I am the big sister. I know that I was nasty to my sister, however, I don't remember it being quite this bad. Perhaps I am recalling myself in a more favorable light than I deserve. Maybe it's a boy thing. Maybe Evan looks like a victim. Maybe kids are meaner today. I don't know.

Advice would be appreciated.


  1. That's so sad! And I've seen this happen a lot. I should have been a lot nicer to my own sister. But for sure, if one of mine acted like that at someone else's house, I'd want to know about it, and I'd be grateful for any correction you provided. That is not cool. Maybe you could talk to their parents and find out how they want you to handle it? And if it doesn't stop, don't have them back over. Poor Evan. I can see why you're sad!

  2. Try this threat, in your stern Mommy voice, "If anyone teases Evan or does anything mean, that's it. Playdate is over. I will call Jeffrey's mom to come get him and there will be no more play dates for a whole week until you both learn to behave better. We treat everyone nicely or we don't get to play. Understand?" Then follow through. One bad play date where the kids gets sent home and Zach will prevent it from happening again.

    1. Hey, I have thought about ending the play date, but then I realize the other child's parents are usually counting on me to watch their kid. It would be a big inconvenience to the other parent if I ended the play date, but maybe that is what I need to do....

  3. Evan is old enough for a playdate of his own. Why not invite playmates for the both of them? Or, you could trade off - send Evan to play at a friend's house if Zack is going to have a friend over that day. You can't prevent it - we have the same but it's milder because our older one is a girl. She teams up with her buddies to torture her little brother, but they sometimes have mercy. When Benjy and Eli get older, I'm sure I'll have EXACTLY what you've got on your hands now, so whenever you figure out exactly what works, let me know and I'll store it away!!

  4. I'll tell ya...this happens over here, too. Really irks me. G and Q play awesomely together. Q plays awesomely with the neighborhood kids ...but enter the big brother G and all hell breaks loose. Q usually ends up screaming like he is being torn limb from limb and his feelings always get hurt. I have no advice...just commiseration.

  5. Maybe set up the rules that unless Zach gets treated with respect that play date will be the last for a while? Let everyone (including Zach) know Zach is worthy of respect and that if that can't be managed the play dates don't happen?
    I always have such a soft spot for my daughters friends who treat her little brother nicely (though he can push those annoying little brother buttons pretty bad). Good luck!

  6. Did you ever read "lord of the Flies"? Also, you once told Erica she looked like a rat. Girls just do it direr fervently. Erica also accidentally kicked you twice. Just saying.

  7. All kids engage in some sort of bullying behavior as they grow up, either as victim, perpetrator, or both...whether at school, out in the community, or at home. I haven't been following the recent media discussion about bullying closely, but think that it is very important to diligently intervene in every observed incident of bullying behavior. It requires infinite patience, but it is one of parenting's most important roles.

  8. With my kids I keep the younger ones busy so the older ones can play with their friends. But sometimes I tell them they just all have to get along, that's just the way it is, no teasing allowed. I am very comfortable putting other peoples children in place. I am super sweet about it, but I let them know what's acceptable.

  9. I think that Marie is on the right track. Also, after thinking about it some more (because as stated, ALL kids engage in teasing, bullying, picking on each other--including me and mine), one thing I recall that was really helpful was to have enough of a relationship with my kids' friends' parents such that we could actually discuss this and other concerns. Some kids will be horrified by the thought of their parents getting to know their friends' parents, but trust me, it's a strategic connection.