D.S. asks from Chicago, IL on February 20, 2010
Help! My child is being bullied in school and I don't know what to do. He is seven and is being bullied by a girl in class that excludes him from all play activities that involve her and gets other children to do the same. He seems to lose a friend everyday this way. He doesn't cry in school he "saves the drama for mama". He is often very sad when he comes home from school and sometimes frustrated and angry His social skills have always been good so I thought he might come up with a solution to this on his own so I've been staying out of it. But his achilles heel is that he is sensitive and vulnerable and wants everyone to like him. This goes on during recess so the teacher is not aware of this. My son has severe life-threatening allergies and this girl tells everyone she is allergic to him. Now other children in class will not play with him at recess and ignore him because they are committed to the bully. I am concerned that this will continue as the years progress and his self esteem will be ruined and that his concentration in school and grades may suffer (so far, he is doing well in school). Please help. I feel so sad when I see what my son is going through.
So What Happened?™
I emailed my son's teacher and briefly explained what was happening and how upsetting it is to my son. She talked to the Principal and the counselor for advice. The counselor talked to my son and the little girl who was doing the bullying. The little girl admitted that everything that my son was saying was true. Apparently, she was remorseful when she found out how upset my son was. Then the teacher talked to the whole class about bullying and kids in the class got emotional talking about how they feel when another classmate is mean to them and also that they feel sad they were mean to someone. Then the teacher re-arranged the seating so that my son and the little girl could sit by each other and be friends in class. The teacher actually thanked me for bringing this up because she said that it really helped the whole class get closer and become more of a team. She said it was like team building. They plan on doing more stuff like this in the future now. When I picked my son up from school, today he was very happy.
S.E. answers from Chicago on February 22, 2010
D., it's time to let the momma lion come out. He's seven. He may have good social skills but it sounds like this girl is in a whole different league. She needs help more than he does. Can you imagine being 7 and feeling the need to be so calculating and unkind so as to try to make herself feel better or act out her own anxieties or pain. SAD. You need to get in there talk to the teacher, she'll probably play it down and you'll have to go in and talk to her again, always make a paper trail. It's good to go in with suggesstions about how to make it better - refer to bullying websites for ideas. Sounds like something that needs to be addressed now - these kids will keep moving up to the next grade together and if they get in a wrong track, they'll all stay there for awhile.
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D.F. answers from Boston on February 20, 2010
Make the teacher and principal aware of this treatment immediately. He does not have any one sticking up for him, its your job as his Mother to step in and take charge to make sure this is stopped now. He sounds like a very nice little boy. Do not let this go on another day.
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A.B. answers from New York on February 20, 2010
Except for the allergies you could be writing about my 7 year old son. We immediatly pulled the teacher and the school guidance counselor in. The guidance counselor will talk to both children together and seperatly and things should be set in motion quickly. I.E- first this girl is moved to another table in the classroom, secondly she is informed that she will be watched and repermanded if she continues, thirdly your son will be asked to speak up to a teacher or whoever is around when she or anyone is teasing him and it should be addressed at that moment. When a child just wants to be liked they are a perfect candidate to be bullied because they won't speak up in fear that they won't be liked. Since this bully has the whole class turning on your son I would demand NOT request a bully conversation in the classroom. Meaning a teacher or counselor talks to the class as a group about bullying and would they like it to happen to them etc. When this first happened with my son I was shocked at how mean kids this age were. I have explained to him that some kids bully others because something isn't going well in their life and the bullying for them makes them feel better because they are making the "victim" feel just as bad as they do. I wish you the best of luck but get on this pronto!!!
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C.T. answers from Dallas on February 20, 2010
I hate to hear of an unhappy little child at school. It breaks my heart for you both. I used to teach and never allowed any form of bullying in my classroom. So, first I would talk with his teacher and the principal and make them aware of the situation so they can be your eyes and ears at school. Next, I would set up a meeting with the school conselor for you and your son to discuss the problem and come up with a plan. You and the counselor need to role play different situations with your son so he will feel confident when a problem arises and know how to handle the situation. I have recently heard of children using drawing to express their feelings when they aren't good at putting them into words. Maybe this would be a good outlet for your son and relieve some of the anxiety he must feel everyday. I've,also, heard that sports is a good way for children to build self confidence. You may want to see if he is willing. Communication and prepardness is key when preparing a child to handle a difficult situation. Good luck to you both!
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D.B. answers from Charlotte on February 20, 2010
I'm so sorry you are facing this so early in his life. This is the time to start practicing your advocating skills in the school system. You have lots of years ahead of you, so now's the time to go ahead and start learning. Your son is too young to be embarrassed by you at the school talking to the teacher, counselor or principal about this issue. He needs your support for not only the help, but also to know in his heart that his mother will stand up for him. When he gets in middle school, that's when he'll want mom to let him handle it, and you'll still get involved but in a different way. But now he can't fight these battles alone.
The girl feels powerful being able to gather others around her and get them to do what she wants. Your son needs to feel empowered by this problem going away and the girl learning her place, which is to leave him alone. The school has ways of working this out, if it's a school worth going to.
Don't let the school let your son down. Have a sit down with the teacher and counselor right away, and tell them if it's not handled within a week, you'll need to involve the principal.
Good luck, and strong resolve!
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A.J. answers from Williamsport on February 20, 2010
I heard about a program in a school somewhere that is DESPERATELY needed everywhere where kids are proactively taught how to vocally side with a child who is being taunted. I am teaching it to mine. They are told to go to the child who has been victimized, say, "Come on, WE don't need to listen to this." and walk away. They don't know what to do on their own and will automatically side with the strongest child, which they view as the bully. This is another reason we should all teach our kids to IMMEDIATELY lash out verbally to accuse the bully of wrongdoing when attacked, because then the kids will see the victim as strong too, and often side with the victim.
I am all for letting your son be strong and fight his own battles, but at this age in this situation that has already progressed, this is what I would do in this situation. I would write letters reporting the child and incidents to the teacher and principal and leave them with them when telling them in person you expect them to enforce discipline with this child. Let them know you would like verification that it is formally reported. I would recommend to them that they meet with the other children in the class to explain the proper behavior during bully situations and that if anyone is caught aligning with a bully, they will be disciplined (if that's even allowed anymore-it's been a lot of years since I was in school and the teachers actually had some power) and their parents notified.
I would also contact the parents of the little girl, and even though I would like to sock them in the face for being horrid parents, I would keep my tone very kind and leave no room for argument or defense. I would state that you know their daughter is very nice, and this is all a misunderstanding, but she has done A, B, C and you have reported it to the school as well. Let them know you expect them to teach her the right way to act toward your son-even if it means staying away from him and that you will continue to make sure the school enforces it. Do it in a letter if you think you can't keep your cool.
I might even see if I could force a mediation with myself, the bully's parents and our kids to force an apology through a friendly meeting and then have the teacher announce to the class they are friends or something..this would take some thought...not sure....something to keep the girl from gathering her minions and continuing the behavior.
As for your son, definitely let him know he has done nothing wrong and that in life there are mean people. He's getting a dose now that will make him stronger. Teach him how to stick up for himself. But don't leave this all on him at this age. These are rules that the school should be enforcing. Good luck!
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A.T. answers from Chicago on February 21, 2010
As a teacher, the school needs to be notified immediately. They cannot help with what they do not know is happening!! Some sort of mediation session should happen with help from the student support team (counselor, teacher, administration, etc). Your child in no way should be treated like this. The girl's parents should be notified as well.
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P.W. answers from San Francisco on February 20, 2010
I personally would go up to the bully at school and tell her to leave my child alone in a pretty strict tone. If her mother won't teach her to be nice, then someone has to. And make the teacher aware of it.
Then slowly try to train your child to stand up for himself, and to not worry about whether or not people like him. Tell him that no one is liked by everybody, so it doesn't matter what other people think. It's amazing how confidence stops bullying.
A child should NEVER take bullying quietly. He needs to give her as good as she gives him. Teach him things to say back to her (not necessarily nice things), and have him practice saying it to you. I was the shy type who let people bully me around, so I can tell you from experience what it takes. As soon as you stand up for yourself, and feel strong about it, people automatically stop picking on you.
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M.G. answers from Chicago on February 21, 2010
Do you really think at the age of 7 your child could handle this stuff on his own? Could you handle it when you were 7? We are here to teach our children. They are children. You should consider talking to the teacher and the principle. Why not have a the teacher have a class on how to treat each other and explain about how to treat each other. I find it frustrating that as parents we don';t teach our childgren and we are afraid to pertect our children. The parents of this child should be included in the issue as well. They may not know what there daughter is doing? It maybe something going on in the home and she is taking out on your child.
Please I know this sounds negative and harsh, I get frustrated we are making our children grow up so fast. They need us to teach. Your correct if you don't intervine now it will cause further issues with your child. I truly believe you realize this go with your heart protect him.
I will pray for you and your situation. I pray you will find the words to say to the teacher and the principle and they work with you to resolve the issue. Bully is a serious issue and needs to be addressed do it in Love and everything will work out. Watch how your son will change and know you were apart of teaching him and the other kids in his class how to treat people.
Be blessed and I wish you much success in handling this issue.
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