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My son (4 year old) gets on well with all of the children at his childcare and also has a smaller group of 3 or 4 close friends. However, he is super-sensitive to anything they say: not every day, but often he frets about the clothes he wears, what toys he is going to take for news day, what time he arrives at school etc.

There is one boy who is one of his two best friends who likes to comment on things and ask my son why he is wearing something or why he brought something. It's definitely not teasing, because its his friend, its just part of that boy's personality. This boy gets given lots of toys by his parents and always wears lots of Spiderman etc. clothing so my son thinks he is second best.

My son has never been bullied because he is good at physical activities and is quite likeable, but I am worried that when he goes to school next year worse things are going to be said, which is just life.

How do I harden my son up and teach him to have confidence in himself and appreciate the things he has? Note, I could go out and buy him a bunch of toys or clothes etc. but I don't think that will solve the problem.

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Bullying is not just physical and if the children were older I would absolutely say your child is being bullied. I suggest talking with the other child's parents about it. –  Erin Oct 12 '11 at 23:48
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@Erin - sorry, I disagree completely. Bullying is about intentionally harming. The OP made it pretty clear that there's no intent to harm. Let's not dilute actual damaging behavior like bullying by labeling anything leading to hurt feelings as "bullying". Otherwise pretty much ALL human behavior becomes bullying, especially behavior exhibited by non-adults. –  user3143 Oct 13 '11 at 2:55
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@DVK - I agree with you. I see it as part of preparing him for the real world where people often say things that are not nice, but he doesn't need to take these to heart. This can sometimes be friends who say things without meaning to hurt and sometimes its just someone being a jerk. He needs to learn to be able to balance things that people say without feeling hurt at every comment that is made. –  xiaohouzi79 Oct 13 '11 at 3:04
    
@DVK How do you know that the child is not pointing out he has "better" things to make the other child feel bad? Or at least to make himself feel better. I see verbal bullying happen far to often and too many people write it off as being a jerk. Perhaps if those children we taught to be kind, there would be less adults who are jerks. –  Erin Oct 14 '11 at 1:12
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@Erin - something to do with this being a normal human behavior. Of COURSE he is doing it to make himself feel better. Doesn't make it bullying. Bullying is intentionally HARMING someone. Having your feelings hurt because you're jealous does not constitute harm. –  user3143 Oct 14 '11 at 12:08
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1 Answer 1

  1. Reinforce his belief in his own abilities.

    One of the best ways to do that is to show him ways in which he IS good/better.

    E.g. "yes, some other kids may have more toys, BUT you are the best at building new constructions from lego blocks".

    Another side of this is explaining to him that the other kid has all those things NOT because he's somehow better and/or that him not having them is not because he is somehow worse/punished etc..

  2. Honestly explain that people don't always say nice things and sometimes WANT to say something hurtful.

    • 4 year olds generally are intelligent enough to clearly understand the concept.

    • Use himself as example. Unless he's very unique, I'm SURE at one point or another when he was ticked off he told you "I don't love you"/"you're bad parents" etc...

    • Explain that people who ALWAYS say things like that aren't the kind of people he should be paying attention to.

  3. Make sure he has a support base and KNOWS it.

    If some kid teases him about cloths, one of his first thoughts should be "well, let me ask my parents if that is true that my clothes suck". And that he has assurance that you won't blow off his concerns.

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