A Child Who Is a Bad Influence

Some children have a habit of latching onto older relatives who mistreat them.
Q
My 12-year-old nephew has a habit of teasing and emotionally tormenting my 5-year-old son. My son idolizes him. My nephew knows this and says things like "You're not my friend" to purposely upset my son. He also gets carried away physically and hurts him a lot. My husband and I have confronted his parents and asked that they speak to their son, but they haven't. This is driving a wedge into our family. We're hoping it was a phase, but it's not getting better. We don't like to have our son around his cousin, but our families are very close. Any suggestions?
A
Since your nephew's parents aren't able to help with this situation, you will have to take charge. Limit the unsupervised contact that your son has with his cousin. When your families are together, make sure that you or your husband are nearby so the older boy cannot hurt your son. If your nephew or your son question this, explain that you do not like what happens when they play together and you won't let your son continue to be hurt.

When you know that your families will be together, try to arrange activities so that the two boys don't have the opportunity to play roughly or alone. Plan games and activities that don't allow for rough play, or invite a friend of your son's to go along so that he will have someone his own age to play with.

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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