How to Handle Difficult School Situation

Updated on October 31, 2019
M.E. asks from Rockwall, TX
5 answers

Hi Mamas,

I am hoping to get some advice in handling a difficult situation with my 6th grade daughter. I have some ideas, but this forum has been helpful before and may offer some additional support.

I was informed by my daughter’s teacher that she was part of a group spreading rumors at the school. I don’t think she was the one that started the rumor but was part of spreading the rumor. She would not say who told her the rumor; however, she was honest and told the teacher that she told “so and so” the rumor. I am so disappointed in her and really sad that she was NOT part of the group stopping the rumor from being spread. I do appreciate that she was honest and the teacher said she sounded very remorseful about her behavior. I have a few ideas on how to approach, but I do feel there is a balance between being tough and ensuring she understands the consequences of her behavior. She was honest in telling the teacher that she told someone. I am thinking that maybe she did not truly understand the severity of what she was doing. However, I am truly disappointed and want to address is this situation in a way she truly understands what spreading a false rumor can do to someone. And how unkind this behavior is towards someone as well regardless if you start the rumor or not. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you for all of the great responses! Because of your responses, I now have some focus for our conversation and the Type of approach that I should take. I love the visual analogy ideas too. I had not thought about using something like that - great idea. I will look into getting that book too. I also found some stuff online that I think that might be useful on how she can choose to respond next time to someone that shares a rumor with her in the lunchroom. Someone brought up the idea about making sure she knows how to handle next time, which is important as well. I am not quite sure she knew how to react. There is an acronym called THINK that she can use to think about before you speak (True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?) I am also going to have her write an apology letter to the two people that were affected by the rumor. Thank you for the support. Glad I reached out.

Thankfully, she is not on any social media and I monitor her devices very closely - use screen-time etc. Luckily the incident was isolated to lunchroom conversation only and was stopped when another child raised her hand to let an adult know about the rumor.

More Answers


answers from Boston on

There are some classic stories and lessons in dealing with gossip - and remember that "gossip" is defined as something spread about another person whether or not the information is true. That's an important distinction.

Some books/stories include "A Pillow Full of Feathers" is the Jewish version, but "Feathers in the Wind" and "A Sackful of Feathers" are from (I think) a Catholic perspective. (At least one of them deals with St. Philip Neri.) There are probably secular versions as well. In any case, the story is that a wise person has a child or an adult take an old feather pillow, open it up, shake out the feathers and then try to retrieve and replace the feathers. Of course, the person realizes it's impossible and the wise person says, "That's how it is with gossip and rumor - it's easy to distribute and impossible to take back."

Another example is squirting some toothpaste out of the tube and saying it's too much, and could your daughter please put some of it back in the tube. Of course, that's impossible as well.

I think, but her age, you could expand this to topics of sexting and saying things on social media - it's out there forever.

Finally, when I was teaching in a small school, we had a big poster that said THINK. It was to contain gossip but also things like calling out in class or correcting another student. It stands for:
T - Is it true?
H - Is it helpful?
I - Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?

Also, there are some great books on gossip, why people do it, and what it says about the gossiper, not so much the subject of the rumor. I took a workshop on this many years ago and it's been very helpful in guiding my own speech and recognizing that things we might consider innocuous aren't. It also helps in dealing with people who are sharing gossip with us. Great for adults and kids.

Mostly, I think you have to get her to recognize her mistake (sounds like she does), feel back about it (sounds like she does), and have a plan for confronting these situations when they occur again (sounds like she doesn't). Whether that includes making amends with the subject of the rumor is up to you, but certainly a pledge to be kinder to the person being talked about or ostracized might help her move on as well as be an example to others. I think you also want to set the stage for her to be able to come to you when she makes a mistake rather than fearing your disappointment. That's important now, and it's going to be absolutely vital in the teen years.

Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Diane's thoughts are great - really good.

I've been seeing that feathers to the wind pop up on my Facebook quite a lot lately - and it's a really good analogy. I think kids would understand it.

WHY (what they hope to gain) might be very important here. At 6th grade level (my kids have been here), there's peer pressure, wanting to fit in, maybe she doesn't like the girl ... there's all kinds of reasons why your daughter participated. I think it's key to listen. That's the one main thing I've taken away from this site.

Why she participated. Because if you can understand that - or better - she can, that will deter her from doing it again. It says more about her (that she participated) than it does the girl - and if you can hide your disappointment for now, and just let her be open in trying to figure out why she did it - then it will help her see what she needs help with/to work on (her own flaw).

If she thinks her friends won't like her/accept her unless she goes along - that's a life lesson there. You can handle that one way.

If she doesn't like the girl and she feels she deserved it - then felt badly after (but only after they got caught..) that's another ...


Good luck :) My kids have behaved in ways that have left me cringing - but trying to remain calm/not too disappointed, and guiding them to make better choices ... under pressure sometimes (grade 6 - there can be a lot of pressure) ... should be the goal :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Great that she fessed up on this so at least she knows she did something wrong. I'd go gently with her but remind her that those people who started the rumors about someone else are the same ones who wouldn't think twice about starting a rumor about her. Remind her that if she didn't see it with her own eyes she doesn't know if something is true. Grades 6, 7, and 8 tend to be very dramatic and you need to let your daughter know that she needs to stand up for herself and those around her. If she hears something she doesn't think is true she needs to say 'That doesn't sound right' to help squash it. Also remind her that what she says and does matters. Does she want to be known as someone who is trustworthy or someone who spreads lies about others?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I agree with Diane, at that age, girls are extremely dramatic and creating a lot of rivalries in the form of gossip, to selfishly keep their friends to themselves. Is it right? No, but it is extremely common, and as someone else mentioned below, things can get worse as kids get older and rely on things like spreading sexting photos around the school, as a form of gossip and bullying. The teacher called her out on it, she is remorseful, and probably a little scared that the teacher came down on her for it. I think she learned her lesson, so I would let it go at this point, unless she repeats it. Tell her next time to ignore any gossip she hears, or to approach the subject in the gossip and let her know what people are saying about her and who is saying it, so the teacher can intervene and stop the gossip, while punishing those creating rumors. The only thing I would do now is to make sure she understands the ramifications about the gossip, and make sure she knows she needs to apologize to all the people she involved and hurt in the process by spreading unfounded rumors.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Along with Diane B’s description - get a blank, unfolded piece of white paper. Write down the kind of lies that the girls were spreading on the paper. Tell her that each lie destroys her relationship with other people and how she looks to everyone else who finds out that she was part of the lie, including her teachers. The fold the paper over each sentence. After you have lots of folds, try to flatten and smooth out the paper. Show her that the paper will never be flat again. People will always see her like this piece of paper that shoes her lies. Is that what she wants to look like to other people? And if she doesn’t straighten herself out, she will look like a paper that’s crumpled up in a ball.

Emphasize that she is not immune to others doing the same thing to her.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us