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I suspect my little brother is an INFP type 5. He is 15. I am 21. For awhile now, I have caught whispers here and there from other family members that he is being bullied at school. I don't know what form of bullying, how long its been going on, or whether or not its true. I don't live with him, or in the same city as him and cannot observe him on a day-to-day basis.

What I do know is that he has always been rather small for his age, and never brings friends home or visits friends elsewhere... except for birthdays occasionally. When he was 6 or under, he was very bubbly, excited, and laughing often. Steadily since then, he seems to have retreated into himself. Every time I try to start conversations, he shuts down if I ask about how things are, how he feels... basically anything about his emotional life, or life in general.

He will talk for a little bit about things he's interested in, like gaming, anime, or his latest messing-with-technology adventures.

He's very intelligent, but his grades have tanked. He's failed so many classes that whether he will be accepted by a college or even whether he will graduate high school is very much at risk right now. My parents are at a loss for what to do which they haven't already tried.


Anyways... I'm worried. I don't know how to talk to him about this bullying thing. I try to be a positive source of affirmation and love, instead of hounding him all the time about things, like most of my family does. I have no idea what's going on in his head. I have no idea if he's being damaged by people at school. I don't know what I could do if he was. What can I do if he shuts down when I toe the edge of anything serious?


I would appreciate your suggestions for how to proceed.
 

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well first we need to know if he really is an INFP....... which can only be known by himself.

we can speculate..... but i don't know how far we can get off that alone..... a lot of errors to be had.
 

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I'm terribly sorry to hear about your brother. Even mildly intelligent and failing a lot of classes is a sure sign of not thriving, so there is something to be worried about.
My initial guess about why he doesn't open up about his emotions and problems is that he is simply ashamed of what is happening to him and perhaps also that he is used to others not validating him when he tries. Perhaps he has some ideals about how he is supposed to be, or maybe he is quite simply conflict avoidant because he feels whatever is happening is partially his fault which means he has to deal with himself. Introverts may detach themselves almost completely from the outer world when it doesn't welcome them, and so they might become terribly lonely and give up on all which they feel that they cannot control.

When there are no more details to this, I can only suggest counselling. Probably what he needs though is a break and some confidence and joy in something external, like friends, girls, or sports.
He might develop a bad depression in the future if not even his parents are helping much but only joining the choir singing about his flaws. You are doing the right thing, but perhaps you should talk to your parents how to deal with him.
 

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I suggest counseling too. Good luck to him. I'm so sorry he's having a hard time. It sounds like you are doing everything you reasonably can to help. Maybe you can provide him with some ideas of resources to mull on. As a 5 I imagine he has at least begun doing some resource-gathering.
 
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Thats really disheartening to hear :(

I whether hes an INFP or not doesn't really matter, to me it sounds like depression, sounds like he struggles to open up and let his emotions out and has had a hard time a school. If you haven't tried counselling already I'd say thats almost essential now. Its good that your giving it thought and caring about his well-being, whether or not hes being bullied, not seeing friends at that age is a very bad sign no doubt.

Maybe try to explain to him that bottling everything up isn't good and that it's not such a big thing once he starts talking about his feelings. Make sure he knows that no one is going to judge him, and no one is going to get annoyed at him for opening up. Maybe try to talk to him when you're alone with him so there aren't other people around to eavesdrop or whatever. Maybe you could give him your phone number and text him to see how he feels, as he might find it tough to verbally express himself. Maybe you could take him into town sometime if he lets you, just so he can create a nice bond with you and he may feel less alone and isolated.

If he still isn't going to own up to his hurt feelings, its tough but perhaps you have to make him crack, so maybe mention bullying or sadness specifically and hopefully he'll breakdown and once he's broken that wall it would feel more natural for him to talk then. I know that sounds cruel on the surface, but its for a greater good, thats how I would want to own up if ai was being bullied, I would want to tell someone with tears in my eyes, I think it would just feel more easy.

Best wishes to you and him
 

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I suspect my little brother is an INFP type 5. He is 15. I am 21. For awhile now, I have caught whispers here and there from other family members that he is being bullied at school. I don't know what form of bullying, how long its been going on, or whether or not its true. I don't live with him, or in the same city as him and cannot observe him on a day-to-day basis.

What I do know is that he has always been rather small for his age, and never brings friends home or visits friends elsewhere... except for birthdays occasionally. When he was 6 or under, he was very bubbly, excited, and laughing often. Steadily since then, he seems to have retreated into himself. Every time I try to start conversations, he shuts down if I ask about how things are, how he feels... basically anything about his emotional life, or life in general.

He will talk for a little bit about things he's interested in, like gaming, anime, or his latest messing-with-technology adventures.

He's very intelligent, but his grades have tanked. He's failed so many classes that whether he will be accepted by a college or even whether he will graduate high school is very much at risk right now. My parents are at a loss for what to do which they haven't already tried.


Anyways... I'm worried. I don't know how to talk to him about this bullying thing. I try to be a positive source of affirmation and love, instead of hounding him all the time about things, like most of my family does. I have no idea what's going on in his head. I have no idea if he's being damaged by people at school. I don't know what I could do if he was. What can I do if he shuts down when I toe the edge of anything serious?


I would appreciate your suggestions for how to proceed.
Trying to extract a young INFP's feelings can prove to be very difficult if you two aren't close, or if he's not ready to divulge anything to you.

Perhaps spending time with him might help him learn to open up to you. If I may suggest, maybe watch a movie together with a scene on bullying (wish I could think of some films, but my mind is drawing a blank :frustrating: ). And then afterwards, the two of you can have a discussion about the film; bring up the bullying scene and give your thoughts on the subject matter. And hopefully this could be the gateway to him opening up to you. If he's still hesitant, give a little space before attempting again. Maybe you can suggest yoir family do the same for him?

My little brother too went through an identical situation. He was bullied in HS, and his grades were dropping. I had an inkling, but he refused to share anything with me. One day I came home and saw him crying, clearly upset about something (and he never cries). I asked him what the matter was, and he confessed. (It shattered my heart, and sent my fury into overdrive. I seriously wanted to hurt the kid who caused my brother so much pain. If I could carve the pain out of my brother and inject it into myself so that I may bear the burden, I would do it in a nano second).

Whether your brother is an INFP or not, matters little in this regard. I think any kid experiencing this just really wants someone who will listen to them, and guide them, and help them understand that this is not their fault.

I honestly don't know what type my little brother is either. I'm guessing IxTx. He is thriving today, and is doing very well in college with top marks in his classes. So I'm sure your brother can make it through as well. I myself went through a similar experience, but the bullying was short-lived when I put the offender in place. Much luck to you and your brother.

I see that you're an INFJ. When I went through an ordeal, my INTJ cousin would help me out. I can only imagine that an INFJ, being another NF, can absolutely help another NF recover and bounce back.
 

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@Sedem Keep on supporting your brother, keep on being a loving figure in his life. He really needs someone like you in this difficult time, he needs a support system. Are your parents aware he's being bullied at school? Is the school and/or his teachers aware? I know you are probably doing everything you can, which is absolutely fantastic, but he needs more people on his side.

I've been bullied at primary and high-school for a very, very long time and I had little to no support. I also thought that I couldn't talk about it with someone, out of fear that my bullies would strike back or that my family would have been ashamed of me. Like your brother, when someone asked how I was feeling, I would give short answers or deflect the question entirely. It's not easy to make an insecure INFP open up about his feelings....

All you can do is this: give him the feeling he can trust you, give him the idea he can talk to you about anything and everything. Once in a while give his confidence a boost. Eventually he might tell you about his struggles, because I fear he won't answer questions about his problems honestly at this point in time. Hmmm. What you can try as well is ask about it when he is having a good day, when he is feeling very comfortable around you. Also make sure you are alone & in a private place. Maybe he will tell you then and there.

I really hope your brother's situation will improve. God I hate bullies.
 
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Let him know that he can talk to you about things that he probably doesn't want to talk about with other family members. And he doesn't have to do it right away at that moment, or even face-to-face. Just be a friend who can be trusted unconditionally. I just feel like it's possible that he might be ashamed or paranoid about how he'll be judged if he says anything. He could be facing some pretty dark stuff.

Counselling could help too, as long as the counselor is good.
 

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Whether he's an INFP or not, he sounds a lot like me growing up. Pretty much the exact same things happened to me aside from the bullying. Because of that, I can't say if bullying is the main issue. I know that my grades downhill when I started to feel unbearably alone. I didn't see any purpose in doing my work because I didn't think there was a point to going to college or doing anything because I would always be alone anyway. He has probably lost hope in all "work" like I did. He needs to know that it's worth it eventually even though it seems like nothing will ever come of it. But showing that to him isn't going to be easy.

My guess is that whatever he wants out of life he feels that he'll never be able to get. That's what I think you should focus on with him. Find out what he really wants and show him that it's possible. Help him with it if you can. He needs his motivation back. That's the only thing that will get him to do what he has to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
well first we need to know if he really is an INFP....... which can only be known by himself.

we can speculate..... but i don't know how far we can get off that alone..... a lot of errors to be had.
Even if I am wrong about him being an INFP, having the input of others as to how they would respond in such a situation is certainly helpful. I've just had too little experience, both with getting someone who is resistant to talking, and how to help someone without getting them to talk. I've also never really been bullied. I just don't have any real concept of what he must be feeling or needing.

My initial guess about why he doesn't open up about his emotions and problems is that he is simply ashamed of what is happening to him and perhaps also that he is used to others not validating him when he tries.

It really hurts my heart to remember, but when we were both younger and I was in the same household, it took him awhile to learn how to speak without stuttering and a few minor other speech issues. When he spoke to my father and mother, I remember him going on and on, and my parents would get impatient with him. "What is your point?? Get to your point--" they'd say. I suspect over time, maybe he gave up. I also was impatient with him, sometimes, and I wish now that we would've figured out some other way to handle it. Both that I would've, and that my parents would've seen that it could be harmful.

Are your parents aware he's being bullied at school? Is the school and/or his teachers aware? I know you are probably doing everything you can, which is absolutely fantastic, but he needs more people on his side.
I spoke with my mother about it yesterday. She said that originally, it was my younger sister (18) who told my mother about her friend's observations. Either she didn't give or my mother doesn't remember any details about the situation my sister's friend saw. There isn't much proof. But the steady pulling away from the world is what makes me suspect it may be true. My mother asked my brother directly about it. He said there was no issue, and that he wasn't being bullied. Then he said something about wanting my mom to stay out of it. She told me she didn't pursue it further because she wanted to respect his wishes... But I sometimes wonder if she did so more because she didn't know how to handle it.

The only detail she seemed to know that, aside from the other bullying that was being suggested, there was a math teach who he hated, who was treating him unfairly. Always giving just him a hard time, and refusing to help him when he asked multiple times for help. I don't know. I think perhaps he was exaggerating just a bit on that one, but I can't know what's going on based on these suppositions. That's why I wanted to get him to open up to me about things.

But I live in a different city, and our main communication is through Skype, and occasional visits that I make back home. It makes me feel rather powerless.


Thanks for your suggestions and input, everyone. I'll keep trying.
 

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You can only be powerless when you have exhausted all avenues to help him and he still refuses your help.

Perhaps you can share about each others' days over Skype. It need not be about anything important at first., or even everyday. One must learn to crawl before one can walk, and then eventually run.

If you've witnessed anyone being bullied in your daily outings, you can also bring those up with him. And gauge his reaction. If the bullying is unfounded, then thank goodness! But this does bring you back to square one with him in trying to uncover what is really plaguing him.

Your brother sounds awfully similar to mine when he was younger. He too was very jovial and bubbly before age 8. For mysterious reasons, he started having trouble verbally expressing himself; stammering, mumbling whenever he spoke. And I admit, I too, became impatient with him. But with age comes patience and hopefully wisdom, and I've learned how to interact more productively with mine. It takes time to build or rekindle a relationship. But in order to reap the fruit, seeds must be sowed and nurtured before the harvest. Best of luck to you!
 
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