23 answers

Help with My 13 Year Old Son

It's funny, you know what to say and do when it's not your child.... My 13 year old son is very intellegent. He is in advanced classes, mature, ahead of most 13 year olds. He's 6" tall already etc. At the bus stop he is bullyed by "popular" 12 to 13 year olds that continue to get away with their actions. I've gone to the school about this,(they made up lies to get my son in trouble that wasn't even true, but 4-5 of them backed the lies), to their parents, to no avail. The parents either say: not my child or this is way too much drama for me and don't want to hear it. (That's why their children act this way) My son is a good boy, but it is really getting to him. He is depressed. Says things like: he hates life. He hates himself and much worse. I've discussed everything with him including suicide (just in case he was leaning in this direction) He says no way, but still hates his life. He writes poetry that is so deep and intense, I can hardly believe my son wrote these words. Do I seek counceling for him? I've discussed that idea with him and he of course does not think he needs it. He says, It's them, and if they would stop the laughing and teasing and acting immature it would make like so much better. HELP? What do you do with bratty, spoiled, bullys that parents think are angels? Someone suggested documenting everything, so I told my son to start writing things down on the bus. It's really bad and he does not want "mommy" at the bus stop either: it would make thinks worse. My other son sees it, but they dont bother him. My 13 year old talks back to them: shut up, grow up, etc but it hurts his feelings anyway. He really does have a kind heart.

What can I do next?

More Answers

This is more common than you can possibly imagine. I taught juior/senior high for 10 years and every year stuff like this got worse and worse. Bullies are always bullies and it is up to the parents to do something about it. Heavens know the schools won't step up and take a stand.

What is a parent to do? I will give you the same advice I have given many parents in the past.

Don't let your child be alone. Now that doesn't mean that you have to be with him every day, but what about another kid? Where is the bus stop, is is in front of houses? What about th people who live in that house, would they be willing to watch what goes on at the bus stop? There are many retired people in every neighbourhood who would gladly "hang around" to help you protect your child.

Have your child carry a recording device with him. There will no longer be a he said/she said situation once it is recorded.

Get your child into counselling. You are the parent, you must make the decision for him. Don't force him to go, ASK him to talk to you or a profesional. Talking may be all he needs. That is what the poetry is about. He needs to elt it out. He may very well just feel like "fighting back" but because of his upbringing chooses not to and is conflicted. Tell him it is okay.

Give him permission to stand up for himself. Take him to self defense classes. Show him the power of taking a stand.

If worse comes to worse, change schools. But please, this is a last resort. It is very hard on the student.

Most importantly, don't give up. There have been too many stories in the news about what happens to kids who are bullied. Let him know you love him, let him know that he is better than all of this.

B. B.A.:B.Ed.

1 mom found this helpful

My heart breaks for you and your son! I am so sorry kids can be so mean and ugly. I have a friend who had similar trouble with her middle school son a year ago on the bus - which got better as soon as she did two things. First she started driving him to school, giving them more time to talk and less time for those kids to make him a target. Second, her husband started working out with him (he was overweight) but the exercise and one on one time helped him to feel better about himself. It worked wonders for my friend's son. He went back after summer ready to deal with the issues feeling better and the kids didn't bother him.

I do think you need to change something right away - the comment that he hates life is so sad. He deserves better. I'd change the environment and see if his attitude/outlook improves, if not I'd take him to talk to someone. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I can totally relate with your son. I am 23 now but in school I was always getting picked on. I went through depression but I never really faught back. I learned from a young age to let it roll off my back and get on with the day. I don't think there is much the school can do unless they are also acting the same when once they get on school property.
If you remember not to long ago in the new there was this same thing a young man was getting bullied and the mom went to the school and nothing happened. Then the boy ended up getting JUMPED on the bus and the driver did nothing. I heared that the boy had an attitude, but it still should not have been allowed to happen.
Back to your son. I know he said that he would rather not go to counseling but That may be the best thing so he can mannage his emotions or just have someone that will not be as involved as you are to talk to. Another thing that helped me was I got involved playing Golf, or just a sport, I also kept a journal of my day, and I wrapped myself in my art. These are only suggestions from my personal expieriance and I really hope they can help. Kids these days are even more curel than I remember them.
I think as a mom you are doing all the right things by being involved. Your son is very lucky to have you and I will pray that his problem may be solved as he gets older.
In high school most of the teasing stopped for me and that is where I made some very good friends. They really helped me with my depression for the most part.
Good luck and God bless,

1 mom found this helpful

Hiya D.,

Listen to your son and watch him closely. If you are thinking a professional is a good idea, the do it. Moms usually see what is best for their kids! Be there for him, as parents it is our job and responsiblity to support our kids and let them feel valued and loved! If dad is not in the picture find another male role model for him, often times churches or teen centers have a list of volunteers in your area.

I have worked in a middle school for the past 10 years. It is a hard age group. I have three children, girl 19, boy 16 and the yougest girl is just now 12. The first two kids did well with public school for the most part and seemed to adjust to the challenges and learned to stand up for themselves. The youngest, 12 year old has a hard time adjusting to changes. She does not like confrontation or dealing with the 'mean'kids. We have just recently re-evaluated our schooling ideas with her. She is now in a private Christian school and loves it! We will struggle financially to keep her here, but her attitude it worth it! She can be herself and the 'clicks' are not near as obvious or such a powerful influence at this school. This was a huge choice that thankfully has worked for her.

One of the other things to consider later on is to maybe look into advanced chapter, collegiate or prep schools in your area. The focus is for kids that are advanced. A collegiate HS usually offers placement from 9-10th grade onwards and the students graduate HS with an associates degree at the same time. This can be a rewarding environment for advanced students as most of them are focused and desire to learn.

In the mean time, maybe you could just drive them to school. If the problem is at the bus then eliminate it all together. I hope at school things are better for him. Unfortunately, middle school kids are often mean. He will probably blow up and fight back soon and just try and support and love him even when he has had enough. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers!

I have a similar situation. All the bullying kids are spreading rumors on my son and now he is getting bullied everywhere. I am not sure how to handle this. I told my son to ignore but I do understand it is very hard for him to ignore everything. I do read a lot of people advising to stand up for himself. But what does this exactly mean? I hope your issue is resolved. Please let us know how it got resolved.

Hi D.

Actually, what is happening to your son is not unusual at all, I am very sorry to say. I hear it all the time and with rising voracity. That uncomfortable fact is that children, our sweet children, when all thrown together in the pie, don't accept thier differences, as they are being taught in the public school arena, supposedly.

My son, is also 13 and would probably be in the same place as your son, if he went to public school. I do homeschool him and he has enjoyed this for years. He has plenty of acquaintances and a few close friends, as it should be. He enjoys his life thoroughly. In fact, he just sat down and read this about your son and would like to meet him and tell him he's a great kid. His words. He shook his head and is sad about people who hurt others on purpose.

D., I get numerous calls from kids, from public and private schools, asking me what they have to do to homeschool themselves. When I inquire as to why they want to, it's usually a social issue. Parents would be shocked if they knew all the stuff that goes on in the bathrooms and other parts of the school their child attends. I don't know what the answer is for the public schools, they seems to be adding more police and gun control, so they know they have a problem. I do know that your son is special, as each child is, and yet instead of celebrating the difference, he is made to feel like there is something wrong with him. That is not your intention for his life, I can tell. He is really right, he IS fine. What he needs help with, is how to deal with ugly people, who are ignorant of the fact that we are ALL unique in God's eyes, ON PURPOSE!

I would love to talk with you, I get lots of calls about homeschooling because we have the Homeschool Corner and the kids find us in the phonebook. I give seminars to parents to educate them about their options, rights and the rules of the state. I am certainly not trying to sell homeschooling, it is not for every child or parent, but an option to be considered.

Be encouraged, you are not alone and that, unfortunately, this happens alot. You do have options and kids out there that would enjoy being a friend to your son.
Take care!

D. , maybe spend extra time with your son, maybe couenseling might help. teen years are always sort of tough. and can be scary too for them.i have raised 2 kids myself as well asbeing a step parent 2 different marriages, 2 of the step children are girls who are now grown and 1 has kids, i am age 50, i have a daughter whos 31 with 3 kids married, my son is single age 28 no kids, or relationship. the issue of hating life etc can be a sign oyu should keep and eye on him, maybe something has happened with him that he cannot talk about. or maybe even being teased at school, kids can be mean mouth wise at times, amke sure to let your son know you love him and always there for him, couenseling is not a bad idea too, i had a brother who died in 1993 he was like that all his life. i will not go into the whole story but he was a lot like your son sounds, my mom did not do much to help him . god bless you , sorry if this was not a lot of help as i have no small kids any more. but i have been a mom 2 times plus a step mom 2 times also to 2 different sets of kids. warmly ,joann4999

Dear D.,
Only your son knows what it is like to go through what he is going through, but I have a two sons that went through the same thing your son is going through. Since every case is different I can only tell you. Take your son to counseling and re-assure him that it is not him the one with the problem it is the other children. The other children are not happy with who they are therefore they have to make fun of others, but their behavoir is a reflection of them not of your son. If he wants to talk to my son ask him to write to my son here. He will respond and sometimes it is better to talk to some one who is not directly involved with the problem, but that had experience the same harrasment. God Bless and my your heart become stronger so you can endure this with your child.

Take him to a counselor any way. Tell him you need to go to one to find out how to help him better and that he needs to tell that person what's happening. Which is actually probably true anyway, right? ;-) This way you can get professional advice to help your son gain some real coping strategies that will help him find his self-worth again. If you are in the Pensacola area, the Anchor Clinic is great.

This is a tough one! I've seen t.v. shows about this and it does end bad. Knowing this is happening to your son must be hurting you inside. I know how I get and I'd want to go up there and rip them a new one verbally! I know that isn't the way to handle it though. Is there anyway you can change schools for him or home-school? This is the actions I'd consider because you never know how bad it's really hurting your son inside. There are all kinds of internet stories about this and parents don't really ever get any help from the other parents or the school - then it's too late. I'm sorry to sound so negative but this world is hard and unfair and to have anything happen to your son that is irreversible would be unfathomable (spelling) to think of. I think of this stuff - my son is only 6 and very smart as well. He's in advanced classes and thinks differently than the other kids. My husband keeps saying he's going to get beat up someday because of how he acts. He's a sore loser, a pouter and gets mad easily at things. Other than that - he's normal. I'd research on the internet and maybe consider the counseling you suggested. Anything to help him with this situation would be better than nothing (like the other moms are doing). Could you drive him to school? Could he car-pool with any of his friends moms? I wish you luck and I hope you update us on how you handled it and how it worked out. We'd all be interested in hearing a positive outcome. Good luck. You have a very special son!

How's your budget? - the best way would be to purchase a small camera that is well hidden on your son's backpack (he would have to wear it in front of him) or one of your other kids to document the bullying. This is 100% proof of what is going on and can't be disputed.

OR Hire a private investigator to document the actions at the bus stop in the morning and afternoon for one week.

For those of us on a low budget the best things we can do are keep talking - it really is true about the squeaky wheel. Don't give up, keep making noise! At the same time, start looking into alternative schools. Although I attended public school we actually had a home school on my street that was licensed to accept other kids. If you are able to stay home with your children but don't feel like you can home school let me encourage you that many feel the same way. They now have material were kids can take classes on the computer, via video, etc. to help parents out. Contact your local church to see if they are aware of any homeschool moms you could get in touch with.

This sounds like a full-blown bullying situation. Volusia county schools are supposed to have a bullying program so I'd say speak to the guidance counselor at your son's school. If that doesn't work, contact Nancy Lessig at Wooodward Elem. in DeLand and ask about her program. She is a friend of mine and a great resource for parents and teachers dealing with bullying. Also, counseling wouldn't be a bad idea. Everyone needs someone to talk to, particularly during difficult times. The counselor could give him some strategies to help deal with them. Has he tried ignoring their remarks rather than telling them to "Grow up". He sounds like a great kid who, in a way, has found his release in his poetry; however, don't let this situation go. As for the parents, you're never going to convince them that their 'angels' are less than perfect. Look at the parental remarks from those whose kids beat the girl in Polk county. It's always everyone else's fault. Blah! Good luck with your son!

That is such a terrible shame, and I understand and have been in your shoes with my 5th grader. I wonder, exactly what did the school attempt to do to rectify this? Being 13 years old, I would not let this go, that is such a difficult age, even without the outside harassment. I would strongly suggest contacting the superintendant's office and be sure to use the words 'bullying' and 'harassment' when communicating with them. This is not tolerable, and despite what your son tells you, he is not ok, and does need your help (though waiting at the bus stop with him will most certainly make things worse for him). Don't bother with the parents anymore, as you said, their children do no wrong anyway. Meanwhile, as you wait for a response from the superintendant's office, is there any way to drive both boys to school? I know it's a temporary fix, but I would not let him endure this any more than absolutely necessary. I hope you hear back from the soper's office quickly, and if not, follow up as many times as necessary to get this resolved. Hope this helps, and God Bless, best of luck to you and your son.
PS: you are a wonderful mom. He is lucky to have you!

One of the things that my mother always told my brother and I was to stand up for ourselves. If we don't the bullies will keep coming back because they know that we wouldn't do anything. The main thing that sticks to my mind that my mother used to tell me is "never start a fight, but make sure you are the one that finishes it. Doesn't matter if you are wearing your best outfit and it gets all torn up, if you didn't fight back, you are in trouble." The other thing that my mother told me was that there is always a leader in a group like that. Go after that person. I am not suggesting that he should hit anyone, but sometimes you gotta do what it takes to get the message across that you don't want to be messed with. Even if he gets into a fight, make sure he targets the leader. Let the "leader" know that your son means business. The best opportunity is if one of the bullies pushes him. Or even taps his shoulder. As long as they make the first physical contact, it allows your son to defend himself. He has the right to fight back. Have him document everything that happens. Kinda like a journal. If it is possible, drive him to school yourself. Gives you a chance to talk. Try to get him to open up to you. Talk things through. Make him realize that he is bigger and better then that. I think that the most important thing to get him to realize is that he deserves respect and he can demand it and that he should not victimize himself in his own eyes. But I don't know if the bullying will stop if you drive him to school. They will be at school. But I wouldn't suggest taking your son out of school. You are teaching your son to run away from his problems. Teach him to stop the bullying now. Otherwise he will be the bullied type for the rest of his life. It is sad to say that bullies are everywhere. Even in high school, college, work place, etc. They will not go away. Give your son the tools now, while he is still young and before his self-esteem and pride gets even more hurt. Enroll him into Karate or other martial arts. He can learn so much more then just "how to fight". They teach kids to have confidence, self respect, control and others. I used to do Karate and it was great. I learned a great deal (It was a small place, my teacher owned it himself. I think thats what made it so great). My teacher actually gave us tools so we didn't have to fight, but that it was the last resort. And if it came to that, we had the right tools to defend ourselves. Just a thought. But you are doing the right thing by helping your son. Too many parents turn a blind eye to this. I hope things work out for your son! Be strong both of you!
ps: find what your son is really good at. You mentioned that he writes. Maybe teach him to use his words as a weapon. Sometimes the right words can be stronger then a punch. Like I said earlier, let your son find one of the kids to go after in the group. Maybe less intimidating then having to fight off several of them at once. I am not suggesting to have your son drop to their level, but he needs to let them know that enough is enough.

Dear D.,

Well first off, WOW, your childrens ages are almost like mine, only you have one more than me, i have a newly married 21 year old that is due may 11th, a 14 year old son, and a 12 year old daughter!lol ok, for your son, is there anyway that you can just take him to school and pick him up or if you know anyone that is close that he can ride with, i dont know where you live, mine goes to wolf lake middle. But i'll tell you, i have never let mine ride the bus, to many bad things happen at bus stops and on those buses. i have never had to deal with bullying with any of mine, thankfully they are pretty popular children, but i can sympathize with you, is there anyway that you could talk with the school counselor and arrange a meeting with the parents, i know that most schools these days have strong policies against bullying. Its such a shame that this type of stuff goes on, tho it has for years and years, but to many times, the "popular" ones just dont realize what kind of damage they are doing until its to late or until they are much older, but i know that if i was one of those parents getting called in becuase my child was bullying, they wouldnt sit down for a week, its just uncalled for. Hope this helps and i will keep you and all of yours in my prayers!
Moms helping Moms across the country!


Sorry I'm so late joining in. I really feel for you and especially for your son in this situation. Kids bully other kids for several reasons, one is that they want to look cool in front of their friends. Another is that they are taking their own frustrations out on them. Another is because they are uncomfortable with something about the person they are bullying or they are jealous of something about them. Whatever the case may be, they are wrong for doing it. Your son, unfortunately in this case, is too nice to really stand up to them. However, in the long run, that is a very admirable attribute. He is a non-comfrontational person and doesn't understand why he has become the target of these kids. He can go about it in one of two ways. One, he can stand up to them and give back what they are giving him, or he can ignore them in expectation that they will give up when they get no response. It was once told to me, you can't be responsible for a gift that you refuse to accept. In other words, he can choose not to accept their "gift" of words and torture. He can choose to place his mind on other things as if they don't exist and soon, the fun in teasing will disappear and they will give up. Whatever the case may be, he will have to choose what he is willing to live with. Unfortunately, at his age, he will have to be the one to make a move one way or the other. This is one of the hard lessons in life, that life itself can be cruel, but we have a choice in how we will handle it. We can choose life with joy, or life in misery (allowing others to determine our worth).
Take Care,

I'm a counselor at a middle school, and unfortunately at that age there is a lot of insecurity, and as a result, a lot of teasing, bullying etc. It gets better in high school, but until then...
I don't think there's much you can do about the other kids. I wish there were, but if their parents won't get involved, I don't see what you can do.
It's wonderful that he is talking to you, and that you are so concerned. I do think counseling is a good idea. Make sure he understands that it doesn't mean there's something wrong with him. It just means there'll be someone other than "mommy" to listen to him, and to help him cope with the situation. And really, if he's using the word depressed, it would be a good idea to get him in to see someone. Even if he says he's not suicidal now, it wouldn't hurt to have a professional checking in with him.
Another thought is to try to develop his interests. It doesn't sound like he has much self worth right now. Does he have any extracurricular hobbies or activities? Could he maybe attend a summer camp that interests him? It would be good for him to be around other kids who have something in common with him. If he's smarter than the other kids, that is probably hard for him. He might be more comfortable in some sort of camp, class, club etc that attracts intelligent kids.
Hope this helps.

D. - I am sorry to hear that this is happening to your son. I know it concerns you and hurts very much. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the "popular kids" that are some of the worst bullies and very few people see it. That is because they have learned from their parents how to hide it. I wish I had a magic answer for you, but I don't. I have had to deal with some of this with my own child. I can tell you that prayer and prayer and prayer does help. Encourage your son to keep doing what is right and to pray himself. You have taken the right measures by going to the parents and to the school. You can't make the parents do anything, but the school is required to address the issue and if they don't, then you take it to the school board. They are responsible for what goes on at the bus stop that they have set and for what is happening on the bus. I will be keeping this is my prayers.

That is neat you have four and another on the way. We have seven, 2 girls & 5 boys, 20 yrs to 5 yrs.

Two books came to mind for resource: The Mind of Boys by Michael Gurian & Kathy Stevens and The Wounded Spirit by Frank Peretti deals with bullying and has a great resource list including for those coming out of homosexuality. The author was teased terribly in school growing up as he had a disfiguring medical situation. The first book deals more with why education is painful experience for many boys with practical solutions for parents and teachers.

You are welcomed to email me and I can give you our phone number as well if you would like to talk. Also, I have a book list of resources I would be happy to mail you. I am not saying one does not know what they are doing but the more informed you are, the more armed you are especially as a wife and mother.

I was made fun of badly as a child because of ears that stand away fm the head more (later parents had plastic surgery to pull them back). It was painful to be made fun of. Later, in tenth grade while in band class, God showed me I would travel and see things that my peers would not. From that moment on, I did not care a hoot about not being in the 'in group'. Many are still in the same pokey hometown.

We homeschool so the bullying and peer pressure is not an issue but we do not hide them from reality either. They are around all kinds of kids from church, sports and Civil Air Patrol. Homeschooling does not guarantee a non rebellious child (good marriages does that) but it helps with that and helps them not care so much about the peers esp. when they see they are way ahead in real life and not birthing babies unmarried with no job skills, not seen a bit of life and travel first. Self preservation is a real motivator.

I told a nephew one time 'your peers are not going to pay your taxes, insurance, put a roof over your head or be there for you when the boulders in life come along only your family and friends that you have developed a real relationship with'. I have heard from one high school mate one time in a short email and still in touch with my high school best friend (although a grade lower; she and our oldest have emailed as well which is neat) and that is it from school all these years.

Hope this helps.
Smiles, N.

P.S. After reading other responses that reminded me all of kids know boxing, grappling and trigger points. They box and work out regularly.

One of my read aloud books one years was Tough Target by J.J. Bittenbinder that has life saving funny and sad stories gained from 23 yrs as a Chicago police detective--good info.

Also, one of our boys was being bullied for not having a 'girlfriend' by some boys on his football team. So I quickly got to know their mothers who are nice which helped a bit. The boys are 'evangelistic opportunites' is one perspective I shared with my son. But I allow him to stand up for himself. I had to tell his team mom when one bully kid dumped out our gatorade because our son would not let him drink out of his bottle which is expensive for us (befuddles me why the kid would risk sharing someone else's germs). Sorta of like the Chinese proverb of hold your friends close but your enemies closer.

Additionally, no one picked on my husband after some big bully 'encountered' him in swimming class in middle school. That was the end of that.

The more I observe over the years (& experienced), the more convinced I am that mass education (esp. government runned) puts kids in an unnatural setting that does not produce a bunch of good fruit. In many cases, it seems to produce mindless, entitlement attitude, bullying citizens. :)

have you thought of maybe some kind of self defense classes. Maybe if your son got one of the colored belts in karatee or something like that the other kids would respect him more?

My son has had some of the same issues at his school and they sound a lot alike in some ways. I see that you posted this in 2008 what was the outcome and how did you help him deal with this?

That is a hard situation to deal with for sure. I'm so worried about the world my child will grow up in. He's 2.7 years old. Perhaps, if you are able, you could remove your children from the bus stop and drive them to school. Good luck and my thoughts are with you.

I would definitely consider counseling, if not just to get a professional opinion on ways to handle the bullying.
He's 13 which is a tough age to begin with and he's also at the age that having mom intervene may make matters worse for him. This is his problem and though you are there to support him, it's something he needs to deal with. I don't know if that means standing up to them, ignoring them completely, etc.
What does his dad say? It may be good to get him or another strong male role-model involved. He's at that age, you know, where being and becoming a "man" is important.
Bullys pick on kids they consider victims--kids who are different from them, are alone (safety in numbers)..., kids who are "easy" targets. Try to help your son shake that victim label. But again, help is different from enabling, and having his mom go down to the bus stop to fight his battles can and probably will make matters worse for him.

So continue to support him, and back him up, and reassure him that middle school just stinks for everyone and not just him (I really hated MS too!)

There are actually online sites that are there to help him too like http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/index.asp?area=main

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