21 answers

Need Some Supprt . . . Feeling like a HORRIBLE Parent

Today a note was sent home from my 5 year old son's teacher that read " _____ speaks unkindly to others often and today told a child that they deserve to die."
WHAT?????
Of course, my husband and I are just shocked, appalled, sad, angry, confused,, etc.
I asked my son what was happening at the time that he said that to the child and he said that they were just working at their table so I am assuming it was not in retaliation for anything.
We had a long talk wih him about how his words hurt people, etc. and while he has had issues with a smart mouth (for which he is always punished) this is the first time that he has said something of this magnitude.
I am stuck b/c while I want to make sure he realizes just how WRONG and UNACCEPTABLE this is, I also want to make sure punishment, discussions, etc, are appropriate.
Any insight is welcome.
I am just so extremely sad and embarassed to think that my son is becoming a "bully."

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so so much for your insights and advice. I think I am going to have my son write a short and sweet apology as some of you suggested. Since we do reward the good and punish ehte bad behavior in our home, he already had some privleges taken away. I am also going to contact the teacher so that we can be on top of the situation. I was a little upset to read on the note that she wrote that he "often" says mean things . . . If that's the case, why is this the first time I am hearing about it? Not saying that my son is the only kid in the classroom but I just think if we are both aware of the issue, obviously we can work together.
You all really helped to ease my fears and look at the situation with a new perspective.

Featured Answers

Well, I think the teacher could have found a better way to tell you about this. Sounds like she just sent you a note and expected you to "fix" things. If she is educated in Early Childhood, she would know how to work with him in the classroom and how to professionally include you in solving the problem without making you feel horrible.

So let me tell you, you are NOT horrible. It sounds like he has some ideas about things, and is exploring them. If I had been the teacher, I probably would have used the chance to start a conversation with him about what he thinks death means, etc... I really don't think he should be punished for trying to express/understand huge concepts in his world.

3 moms found this helpful

I recently had to explain what a bully was to my daughter and she thought that was awful. Then I had to remind her of one of her bullish acts. She was taken back a bit.

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More Answers

For the first time EVER, a few months ago my son got an apology note from a classmate (gymnastics) who said/did something mean to him out of the gazillion times from preschool to present that a kid has mouthed off/ hit/ or in some other way hurt his feelings. It was SO special for him. He keeps it in the sun shield in our car, and periodically pulls it out to reread it. Nothing special just "I'm very sorry I was mean and hurt your feelings."

As a mum, I'm not only incredibly touched, but also so impressed with the other kid's parents tack on this, that I am officially co-opting this strategy.

Similar to Rebecca M. kiddo's preschool teacher never used the word "bully" but a kid doing mean things was "having problems being a good friend today" or was "learning how to be a good friend". I know my own kiddo gets kinda lost with the whole punishment/negativity aspect of soooo many things, but jumps on board almost immediately when he's given a direction to go. AKA "don't be mean" gets us nowhere, but "working on being a good friend" goes for miles. I also like his spin, that if he's a good friend to people he DOESN'T like then he's sure an amaaaaazing friend to people he DOES like.

6 moms found this helpful

I disagree with some of the posters that say not to punish him. Children his age may not understand the gravity of their words, or even what it actually means, but they are capable of understanding that speaking unkindly to another and using language like that is hurtful and unacceptable.

I wonder what he thinks "deserving to die" means and where he got that concept in the first place, it's not a common concept or phrase for children. When my child says something off, I ask him why he said it and what he thinks it means. Sometimes, he knows what it means, other times he doesnt.

Writing an apology letter and a full lesson on hurtful things would be helpful. Also, perhaps, give him ideas on how to channel his frustration and anger, if these are the things that spawned this statement.

5 moms found this helpful

Hello D.,

I believe that children often use hurtful words, actions, acts when they don't know the appropriate things to do. I teach a class called Behavior Modification without Punishment, and one of the skills I teach parents is to give their children the words.

In your son's case, talk to him about what was going on at the table. I bet something happened that either upset him or make him feel bad in some way. It could have been something another child did or said. Your son probably didn't know how to react, so he said things to hurt the child like your son was hurting.

Use role playing as a tool to practice more appropriate things to say. Also try talking about what others are feeling. Read books about feelings and talk about what the characters are going through. If your son learns to understand other's feelings, he will be less likely to bully classmates.

I also believe in focusing on the positive. When he is being a "good friend" praise him, "you're being a good friend, that's great." "you really helped today, that's being a good friend." etc.

I hope this helps.

R. Magby

5 moms found this helpful

Don't feel bad - this is probably one of the first of a great many things that your son does that you will find really embarrassing. You are not a horrible parent.

My recommendation is that you get in touch with the teacher on Monday and express how you are feeling and work with her to see if you can come up with a constructive way to address this together. As a teacher, I can tell you that it is a really scary thing to need to send home a note like this to a parent. I just don't know if they are going to respond as you did (receptive to the information, wanting to work on finding a solution), or by being incredibly defensive, wanting to know why the teacher can't diffuse the situation, etc. Especially at this age, a teacher can be a real ally so that the consequences for this type of behavior are consistent in your sons social settings. Also, she would have access to resources (councilors, etc) that you might not otherwise have access to, should you decide that you need them for whatever reason.

Good luck. I am sure that it will be fine in the end.

4 moms found this helpful

Well, I think the teacher could have found a better way to tell you about this. Sounds like she just sent you a note and expected you to "fix" things. If she is educated in Early Childhood, she would know how to work with him in the classroom and how to professionally include you in solving the problem without making you feel horrible.

So let me tell you, you are NOT horrible. It sounds like he has some ideas about things, and is exploring them. If I had been the teacher, I probably would have used the chance to start a conversation with him about what he thinks death means, etc... I really don't think he should be punished for trying to express/understand huge concepts in his world.

3 moms found this helpful

Don't feel bad. Kids express themselves in many ways to fight off things and sometimes it just comes out the wrong way. Who's to say the other child didn't aggravate him to that point. Don't begin to "class" your child as bully and those things. Guide and teach him what is acceptable and right and I believe in time, he will get it. You telling him what he did was wrong was good enough. Maybe to get your point across next time he does it (if he does), restrict something he likes as the consequence to doing so.

2 moms found this helpful

Don't be so hard on yourself I think at this age a lot more stuff will come out of your child's mouth that will flat out stun you. I've heard my son say some stuff that stops me dead in my tracks like did you really just say that. I would definitely talk to him about how we do not talk like that and if he does say stuff like that there will be a lot more trouble to come. I think at this age they are not fully aware of exactly what death entails I mean their worlds have been sooo cush and protective until this point where they are realizing that there is bad in the world, but don't realize how bad bad is. I don't think your son is a bully or will be one just because he said a sentence that I am pretty sure he doesn't realize how bad it was. Keep the lines of communications open and just correct it, if it becomes an ongoing problem then stronger discipline is in need. Other kids are also such strong influences that they could be picking it up from school, daycare. Don't stress just correct and move on til the next thing comes up.

2 moms found this helpful

D.,
I am having some similiar issues with my 5 year old. He hasn't said those exact words to a kid but he is very disrespectful to his classmates as well as his teachers. And, just like you, I am struggling with exactly how to punish him in a way that will help change his attitute and behavior. I have talked to his teacher on several occasions and there is one thing that we've tried that did have an impact:

Cut out a heart from a piece of paper. Explain to him that when he says mean things to someone, it hurts them - then crumble the peice of paper into a ball. then explain to him that when he apologizes that does help the situation a little - and then uncrumble the heart. And then show him that even after you apologize, there are still creases in the heart. And no matter what you do, it will never be the same. You can't take back the words that you have said (you can't make the heart flat anymore).

this visual did help my son realize the impact of his words, a little bit. I realize that this is a work in progress and will take time. Another thing that I am now making my son do is if he does something mean or says something mean, he then has to write an opology letter to that person.

Wishing you good luck - as I know I need it too.

C.

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