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Sensitive Nephew Being Bullied By Elder Brother, Advice

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jul 14, 2019

Question

As-salam Aleikum, I write on behalf of my sister, she has two boys aged 17 and 13, and a girl aged 10. Lately, she has been complaining about the middle son, he is always depressed and throwing tantrums, and gets bullied a lot by the elder brother. Since the father is not very affectionate, she as a mother has to step in to comfort him as he is a very sensitive boy but very loving. What can you advise for her? She fears the boy will grow to resent the father. He gets into trouble at school as well.

Counselor

Answer


Bullied

In this counseling answer:

•As his father is not very affectionate or involved with the resolution of this, your sister may want to take the children for counseling.

•Your sister may wish to engage both boys in an Islamic class for boys at the Masjid which will address various adolescent issues as well as teach them adab.

•Your oldest nephew should also be made aware that he is too old to be bullying his 10-year-old brother.  He needs to grow up.

•Please do advise her of the effects of bullying, suggest an Islamic group for the boys, encourage her to set rules and disciple for the older son as well as get the boys into counseling.


As salamu alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us.  I am sad to hear that your nephew is being bullied by his older brother.  Bullying is a serious problem and can have devastating affects on a child, even long-term ones lasting into adulthood.  I can understand how worried you and your sister must be, especially as her 10-year-old is already depressed and throwing tantrums.  StopBullying.gov states “When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable.

Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.” Sister, please do speak with her about the effects of bullying.

Sensitive Nephew Being Bullied By Elder Brother, Advice - About Islam

While this is rather specific to a school setting, it is applicable as well to a home environment. The faster this bullying issue is addressed, the less damage there will be. The real issue dear sister is not that the child will resent the father when he grows older, but that he is being bullied.

As his father is not very affectionate or involved with the resolution of this, your sister may want to take the children for counseling. I would kindly suggest that insha’Allah she chose a therapist who is family-oriented and familiar with the dynamics of bullying.


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It is likely that your nephew is acting out at school due to the painful situation at home.  Your sister may wish to engage both boys in an Islamic class for boys at the Masjid which will address various adolescent issues as well as teach them adab.  Insha’allah the boys we learn to be protective and loving of each other rather than seek to harm one another (the older one).

Your oldest nephew should also be made aware that he is too old to be bullying his 10-year-old brother.  He needs to grow up. He also needs to be made aware that he will soon be of legal age and may be held legally accountable should the school or other entities find out. Your nephew is already depressed and “throwing tantrums” which may be indicative of the hurt and shame he feels by being bullied.  Your sister should not permit the bullying to continue.

Your sister is doing the best she knows at this point. Comforting a child that is being bullied is a natural response.  Ideally the father needs to step in and put the older one in check, but sadly this is not happening. Please do advise her of the effects of bullying, suggest an Islamic group for the boys, encourage her to set rules and disciple for the older son as well as get the boys into counseling.  Insha’Allah sister the situation will improve with these measures or a combination of all four.

We wish your sister and her family the best, please let us know how they are doing.

 

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

What to Do with My Abusive Cousins?

My Child Is A Bully, How to Deal with That?

What Should I Do If I Get Bullied?




About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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