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Bullying....specifically as it relates to girls - Page 2

post #21 of 43
momtokea - I should probably say, I'm not homeschooling because of these issues...well let me say it doesn't hurt my decision. It's just not the primary factor. That said, that sounds interesting and I'll have to check it out.

Karne I think you're on target with what you are describing. I think unfortunately parents can model this behavior. I had a mother share with me that when she addressed the bullying (that left bruises!) with the child and his mother, that his mother replied, well my son just finds your son so annoying. Yah....that makes it okay.

I will say though I think there are behaviors before it even becomes bullying that need to be addressed. When children are struggling to find the right words to cope in a situation and resort of mean words or physical actions. I don't think this is bullying, it's an inability to cope and meet ones needs. But this is an opportunity to address exactly these issues.

The point I have tried to make in the past with parents, at least in the early stages is that there is something going on for the "bully" too...some need that is going unmet and they have discovered this is a means to achieve that goal. Rather than stigmatize anyone, let's look at what the goals are and address those. I will say though as a bully persona becomes entrenched it gets harder and harder. Because frankly their behavior works...it keeps them in a status they like and it manipulates those around them to their goals.

gotta go...little guy grumpy...hmm I think that should be his new nickname.
post #22 of 43
Thread Starter 
BBM I didn't know you were going to homeschool next year....I hope that makes life a little easier for BabyBug as well as you.
post #23 of 43
So by opening up a dialogue with my DD about the relationships she has with people in her class and some of the things they say to each other, she has continuously identified one girl who is "mean". There is no physical bullying at all, only nasty remarks. My mother, who volunteers in the classroom one day a week said that this child is indeed mean, and she she is pretty constantly mean to everyone. Does this count as bullying? I think that it's hard do deal with because it's hard to identify at he onset and no adult would want to point a finger at a child who may just be having a difficult time. This particular child seems to be intent on making other children feel bad about themselves, but I can't imagine that is her intent. I haven't had any discussion with the teacher about her or the classroom dynamic and I'm kind of reluctant to bring it up. I don't know why. Also, I am working with my DD on her responses to the behavior and talking about how words can hurt other peoples feelings. This thread has definitely helped shape my conversation a lot.

One other thing, my older DD, who seems to be sweet and subdued at school, the "target" if anything, comes home and will intentionally hurt her sister (1 1/2 years younger than her ) either physically or with her words, many times repeating what other kids have been saying in class. I know there are many more complexities to the sibling relationship, and I'm not sure even if among siblings there are defined "bullies" or "targets". It's just interesting how the cycle can continue from one environment to the next.
post #24 of 43
sweet - I think you address two very different issues in your post. The first, the "mean" girl...I talk about with kids sometimes how there are three general reasons kids bully (there are more, but this usually suffices). One is to elevate themselves, if by putting you down they elevate themselves then they feel better. Second, for the audience, if by humiliating you and garnering a laugh from the peanut gallery (so to speak) then I gain popularity points. Third, are those kids, for whatever reason (and typically in my experience it's home life) are just angry and mean to everyone. It is not personal at all and you just happened to be in their path. With these children the best thing to do is to teach your child to avoid them at all costs and bring it up with the teacher who hopefully can reccomend help to the parents. Also be sure to talk to her about how to handle this girl if she can't avoid her. A strong "that's mean," or "stop, I don't like that," and then walking away immediately. If need be move closer to the teacher/adult. Not to engage with the adult, but just to have that umbrella protection, IYKWIM.

With your older dd...two things could be going on. One is mastery of a situation. By playing all roles you understand things better. But second is what I call kicking the dog. You've been taking it all day and then at home in a safe environment you let out all of your hurt and anger on the easiest and weakest target. I would just work with her on what it felt like at school and what is something she can do with her feelings instead of taking it out on her sibling. I actually call my dd on her actions. When she's frustrated with me and she starts acting out on her brother, I will say, "I understand you are frustrated because I x,y, or z, but it is not okay to take it out on your brother, it is not his fault." She usually stops immediately.

Okay if I'm totally irritating with all my suggestions let me know and tell me to hush! I just feel so passionately about our girls and I want to protect them and help them grow and learn to become powerful women!
post #25 of 43
This has been really interesting reading. Thank you all for your insight. My girls are not school age yet but you all have me thinking back on situations from my childhood. I was not bullied or a bully but was certainly made uncomfortable when it was going on around me. There is a helpless feeling when you are in the peanut gallery and not able to get away from the situation without drawing unwanted attention to yourself.
post #26 of 43
I haven't read all of the replies, but wanted to post some thoughts before I forget...

For now, since dd is only almost 4, I stick close to her at the playground when I feel like there may be some 'bully' behaviors going on. For instance, when we were at the park one day a few little girls (about 5 years old) were playing and dd asked to join them. One (obviously the leader of the two) told her that in order to play, she had to be part of their club and in order to be a part of their club, she had to do what ever they said. DD was fine with it, but I did pull her aside after a few minutes and told her that she did not have to do anything she didn't want to do, and that she was free to tell her friend that as well.

We are also planning to home school. Not to say that she wont be around other kids her age, but it wont be 30 other kids, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with little adult guidance. I just can't expect one teacher to be able to intervene with every single issue, and at least when my kids are younger, I want to make sure that they have positive role models around them for much of the time.

Barbara Coloroso wrote a wonderful book about bullying, I have it but the title is escaping me atm... Basically, it talks about how bullys are actually hurting and looking for a way to feel powerful. There are ways to teach kids how to diffuse the situation and not give in to the bullying. One thing I think is so important is for dd(s) to learn that their value system should guide their behavior, and that they should stand up for what they believe in, no matter what. Oh, the name of the book is The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander.

I really think that bullying happens when there is a lack of adult/mature supervision (hence why we will home school) and most of it can be prevented by having involved adults around. I also think that when a bunch of kids who are all the same age are together, it is breeding ground for bullying. I have seen this time and time again. Abby has three friends that are older than she is, (6, 7, and 8 years old) she gets along brilliantly with them, and they feel like the 'mother hen' with her. When Abby is with a younger child, she gets to direct the play more and enjoys being the 'big kid'. There are very rarely power struggles and if there are the older kids generally give in to the little ones, (their choice).

Ok, off to read the other replies now...
post #27 of 43
BabyBug, I am loving your suggestions and have already exercised some of them. As much knowledge as you can give, please do. This thread has just been so incredibly timely for my family and my realization of what's happening with the girls.

For me, it's really hard to understand bullying without getting to the root of it. I have seen children excluding others at a very young age. I am a complete This American Life addict and I very recently heard this episode called "Cruelty of Children:


Great story front to back, if you can find the time. Anyway, the last part of the segment is relevant to what I was experiencing. A Kindergarten teacher Vivian Paley tells her class that they can't say "You can't play". She creates a rule to be inclusive. And it works.

I wonder about the difference of the effects of bullying on girls than on boys. For me, personally, I became overwhelmingly accommodating. To everyone, all the time. I have become a very empowered woman but the thirty years prior have been incredibly rocky and I can't believe it has to be that hard.
post #28 of 43
post #29 of 43
Goodness i could have done with this thread 2 years ago!! At age 4 and 5 my dd was bullied in school, the first year whenever the teacher saw what was going on she did something, at age 5 the teacher didn't want to see and my child went through hell, this girl K bullied verbally and physically and my dd went from a fun loving child to a child who never spoke and was afraid to say anything in school and unfortunately the teacher augmented this by pointing out all her mistakes to the class (dd is bilingual so made some errors linguistically as well) my dd's self esteem was so low we just didn't know what to do and when we spoke to the director she said that bullying was part and parcel of school life (this is pre-school) and we just have to accept it, this wasn't an option so we spoke to the director of the next school (primary) and she really has been wonderful, the girls weren't in the same class this year and at the end of last term (Christmas) girl K was removed from school, her cruelty was beyond belief for a child of that age, I noticed that my dd would say that K was her friend and would try even harder to be friends with K in order to protect herself, or that is how she saw it, when we tried to give her tools to protect herself she said that she couldn't do that, it's really difficult when you teach your child to respect others and be polite and treat people the way which you would like to be treated and then you're confronted with quite literally hatred - we worked it out that it was jealousy on K's part, she wanted to be like my dd but seeing as she couldn't then she took this jealousy out in the only way that she knew how, quite honestly I cry when I think what my dd went through, it really was hell and we had to go to parenting associations, the council and the Mayor of our town before anyone in the school, director and teacher alike would take us seriously, during this time I felt like a real failure I wasn't able to do my job as a parent - my dh also found it hard, he came from a really hard and difficult background where violence was an everyday occurence and couldn't find out how to get through this in a non-violent manner - it was exceptionally stressful for all of us, and we looked into homeschooling, but to be honest dd needs the social interaction of school - and homeschooling really 'isn't done' here in france much!! it's been resolved - for the moment, but I am under no illusion that this sort of thing could rise it's ugly head again just from someone else the next time - i need to read more and will seek out the books, thank you all for reading this - if you managed and for responses, ideas, insight anything, thank you for this thread!
post #30 of 43
subbing... and so glad this thread is here. I am so torn over how to handle things with 3.5 year old dd. I live in an area where it is common and expected that children are sent to preschool at 2.5. So, many times when we are at the park or swim class or in a situation to meet other kids there is already a sense that many girls do not want to play with an unknown kid, someone who is not a friend from school. On the one hand, I do not want dd always being rejected and excluded (which she seems to be often. She speaks very well for her age and engages very well with adults and kids over 9 or 10. Her peers, not so much.) but at the same time I want to teach her to be strong and assertive. As a child, I never was, no matter how much my family encouraged me to stand up for myself. We are also, as another poster put it "a visible minority," so it is important to me that my dd not feel that she is less than anybody else, especially as related to how she looks.

Even now, I am trying to understand what is going on at her Little Gym classes. DD loves the classes and is a total rock star in them, but I notice the class is so cliquey. There is one girl who is a full year older than the next oldest kid in the class. The instructors have asked her parents to move her to the next class, but they won't do it, saying that her friends are in that class and she wants to stay with them. I have noticed that the other girls in the class greatly value the attentions of this oldest girl; she sort of "rules the roost" in the class. The oldest girl greets and lavishes attention on all of the other girls in the class except for a new kid and my dd. When they split into groups, the girls always group together and my dd is told (it appears; I can't hear what is going on) to go to the other group. So she is always with the boys, while the other girls are together.

When I try to talk to dd about it...non-leading questions like "I saw you talking to Ashley today. What did she say?" DD won't tell me a thing. I think this is her personality-- she also does not like me to check her out if she has hurt herself. This terrifies me. How can I support her and nurture a sense of assertiveness in her if she already won't tell me what's going on in her interactions with other kids???

Honestly, this is what terrifies me about preschool, and elementary for that matter. Like a pp, I am not at all trying to say that schooling is to blame for all this and that homeschooling is the perfect remedy. I am just trying to figure out how to help dd develop self-confidence in any situation she's in.

Sorry this was so long; it was mostly venting, but I'm so glad this conversation is here.
post #31 of 43
"are actually hurting and looking for a way to feel powerful" - For a long time this was believed. I still believe it is about power, but what new research is actually finding is that bullies feel very confident and powerful. And it's almost a gradiose feeling that allows them to behave this way. But I need to go read the research first hand, this was told to me. What I also dont' know is if it differs between girls and boys. I also do think that still some children fall into this category of hurting and that being the trigger point. Just thought I'd throw out there that not always can we address behavior thinking there is some hurt or lack.

to mamas. I went through bullying as a child, but my child while she's experienced mean kids I don't believe has experienced bullying.

I think the key in getting our girls to talk is to find opportunity and create hook questions. What I mean by that is come through the side door, ask about what science project they did and who partnered up...or who did they sit by in lunch. I know right now my anchors for dd apply to her school...what was for snack, who were the snack helpers, what was your job, who did your job with you, what were the stories, what did you do in art and science (if an art and science day)? etc. I wonder if you could go have lunch with her every now and then or pick her up a little early for tea...just to make a special event. Shake things up so that she is almost surprised to talk. But more than anything take advantage of every opportunity and talk about the silly stuff too...what magic power would you like to have? If you could be an animal what would you be...for that matter, what animal would Janey be? I've done that before with dd's classmates just to get an idea of her perceptions. Use drawing...have her draw her class doing something....

I'm glad ewe that you went to the lengths you did...our children must be protected and I'm sorry but bullying is not normal behavior and does not have to be tolerated. Our children need guidance on how to treat others, whether from example, discussion, gentle guidance, etc.

One other thought naismama is I wonder if you could use humor to help conversations?

This isn't too articulate, I have a little two year old boy climbing all over me....
post #32 of 43
I agree that there is oftentimes something going on with the bully. In the very early years I would sometimes see a child who did not yet have the skills or desire to play with more than one child at a time-the group situation was overwhelming or threatening. I believe that I saw the child then attempt to isolate herself and another child into a small group of their own and through peer intimidation, maintain this small group. This was at first grade level. Just an observation, but my feeling was that there was a real need for social skills teaching among the whole group. Somehow this was perceived as a negative suggestion.
post #33 of 43
Bizarrely enough our dd talked to me about K last night for the first time in her life without being prompted, seemingly dd and best friend were talking about how mean K was to them for a long time - I asked her if she would be able to cope with the bullying if it ever happen again, she quite confidently said yes, I also mentioned that K's mother wanted K to come and play on a Saturday morning with us last year - dd said 'I never knew that', I said that I knew and that I had said no to K's mother, dd then said thank you mamma for not letting her come, further into this discussion she decided that last year she wouldn't have had the confidence to say that she didn't want K to come play and that she probably would have said yes she would like her to come play if I had asked her. What amazes me is how manipulative this child was building one child up against another, dd also told me of stuff that this child had done that I never knew - I haven't listed the violence because of how shocking it is (or it is to me), what I am interested in knowing is that if a child capable of such violence both physically and verbally is conscious of the hurt they are inflicting? An older child I think knows, but does a child of 4 know, I mean really know what she's doing? Maybe i'm naive.
post #34 of 43
Jumping in. Thanks, kerc, for starting this, and thanks so much BBM for contributing your writing.

Some scattered thoughts:
*I went to an all girls school starting in high school, and I wish I could have gone much earlier. This might have been the case of the specific school, but there was a lot of guidance and oversight with regards to "mean girls" and girl bullying. Occasionally some of the mean girl stuff would start up, and it would get nipped in the bud very quickly because the adults were aware of the problem and paying attention. This past fall, we had a situation develop where DD's seat mate would poke and pinch DD during the "silent reading" part of the day. My kid won't break rules, so she didn't say anything. I supported DD in her confidence that the behavior wasn't acceptable, and helped her find a way to communicate to her teacher (and I followed up).

*Girl scouts, with the right leader, is often a safe place for girls to build their confidence in a variety of situations. In my daughter's current troop, the leaders are effectively working with both the bullies and bullied (of the first grade sort) to make for a great troop.

*Someone mentioned up thread that this starts as early as 3, and there was some disagreement on that. I would posit that the behaviors of the bullies and bullied do start this early, as 3 is when kids are really figuring out gender roles at the same time as figuring out peer relationships. I'm seeing the same kids as bullies at 7 as I saw at 3. I also feel quite strongly that a lot of issues of self-esteem begin to develop around that age. It's certainly not set in stone, but patterns and habits start to develop.

I've taken particular interest in arming my daughter against these problems. I experienced them to the n-th degree in school, starting most intensely in 4th grade. Self esteem is a huge part of this, and the self-esteem need to extend to all areas of the self. I have huge confidence in my intellectual abilities, but I quickly lost confidence in social arenas. I see this in my daughter as well. As a result, we work hard to establish confidence and skills as a social being. I think this comes more easily to some than to others, but we're a family of introverts, and being social is taxing. So, starting early we:

*had frequent, short play dates with one kid at a time. This helps solidify friendships from school in an environment where I can keep an ear out for goings on.
*have zero tolerance of unkind words. Just as I don't want to raise the bullied kid, I also would like to arm dd against falling into bullying behavior. Especially when we have the neighbor 8 year old over, we spend a lot of time modeling appropriate ways to disagree.
*we spend time talking about DD's reactions to situations, and talking about her personality. Our goal is to let her be more reflective of situations and her emotions. Our conversation at this point is about kind words and unkind words, and words that sound kind at the surface, but really aren't. And we talk about taking control of how you feel despite what others might say. We have more control over our feelings than we do over other people's words.
*find environments that are not taxing for DD. Right now, that's a lot of swimming. She's thriving in the pool, and we are hoping that when she joins the swim team this summer, she will start to connect to people through that across age groups.
*we talk about talents, things that come easy, and things that come harder. Some thing take a lot of practice to master and others less. We work with DD to realize that some things that come easy to her (like reading or monkey bars) don't come as easily to others. If she points out her skills to others in a bragging way, it makes the other kid feel bad, while that kid needs more practice. On the contrary, things that come hard to DD (bladder control, spelling) come very easily to others. She needs to practice.

One more book to add to the mix: Growing a Girl by Mackoff. It focuses more on self-esteem than bullying in specific, but I've found it a great book on thinking about gender roles, a sense of self, and how we inadvertantly teach our kids what we want to avoid. {I did dislike the chapter on math skills, though, since the author assumes that the mom is not confident of her own math skills. That assumption bugged this physicist.}
post #35 of 43
Originally Posted by babybugmama View Post
I think at age three I would question that it was "bullying" per se. I think at that age you are learning parameters of self and others. Empathy is a far away concept for a three year old.

I agree with you, that is why I called it bullying 'behaviour' as opposed to full-blown bullying. However, in my experience if these behaviors go unchecked I have observed them to turn into true bullying. In Barbara Coloroso's book she also states that some children and adults bully others because they feel contempt towards the victim, not because the bully has unmet needs. It is this type of bullying that scares me the most.

There is a wonderful program done in schools called "Roots of Empathy.'' I have yet to read this book, but I am wondering if anyone knows anything about it? Apparently it has been very effective in minimizing bullying in schools. www.rootsofempathy.org
post #36 of 43
"Someone mentioned up thread that this starts as early as 3, and there was some disagreement on that. I would posit that the behaviors of the bullies and bullied do start this early, as 3 is when kids are really figuring out gender roles at the same time as figuring out peer relationships. I'm seeing the same kids as bullies at 7 as I saw at 3. I also feel quite strongly that a lot of issues of self-esteem begin to develop around that age. It's certainly not set in stone, but patterns and habits start to develop."

I agree wholeheartedly with this. I think it speaks to actually what I was trying to say, that these behaviors come naturally to many 3 year olds, but that this is the learning opportunity. This is where as parents we step in and guide our children in appropriate assertive behavior. Left unguided these individuals can learn that this style of behavior works and over time it becomes more and more entrenched.

zipworth - I think that's what the newer research is holding...is that it isn't unmet needs but almost a grandiosity. I find that hard to accept though for all children. I think there are those that this definitely fits, but I hope not all. That would sadden me for humankind.
post #37 of 43
Originally Posted by zipworth View Post
There is a wonderful program done in schools called "Roots of Empathy.'' I have yet to read this book, but I am wondering if anyone knows anything about it? Apparently it has been very effective in minimizing bullying in schools. www.rootsofempathy.org
Wow - I just looked at the site, it looks a marvelous program - I printing of some of the information in french and giving it to the school and the village Mayor - I think it looks fantastic. Thanks for that.
post #38 of 43
Originally Posted by karne View Post
Hereare some of the issues that I saw. Parents who refused to really look at the social dynamic. Parents who enjoyed the "special" relationships their children were having and had secondary gain for themselves via these relationships. teachers who refused to believe that bullying would be happening in their classroom, and thus were quite inneffective in protecting students. A wider school community with an on-paper commitment to an anti-bullying stance, but a pedagogy that made it difficult to really "get" bullying, and no real expert on staff to help people understand what girl bullying (relational aggression) looks like.

Bullying has to be gotten after from the moment you see it, IMO.

 I am experiencing these things with my dd1's school right now. she's very sensitive and empathic. it's breaking my heart. we've changed schools once already. homeschool is next. hoping it doesn't come to that. looking for help. reading "the highly intuitive child" right now. any other suggestions?

post #39 of 43
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

*Girl scouts, with the right leader, is often a safe place for girls to build their confidence in a variety of situations. In my daughter's current troop, the leaders are effectively working with both the bullies and bullied (of the first grade sort) to make for a great troop.


I agree - Girl Scouts is a great program!  I just started a troop this year at my DD's school (she's in K).  The program really emphasizes acceptance and caring for others, and builds a team spirit. 


Actually, I can't believe how little bullying I see among the kindergarteners I work with.  They are kind to each other, constantly and sincerely complimenting each other, and have really accepted and befriended the girls they didn't know before.  I think DD's school has really done things right in this area. 


1. It's an immersion school with three language tracks, so there's a lot of talk about celebrating differences, and exposure to people who are culturally different.  I think that creates a atmosphere of acceptance. 


2. The teachers get to know the children well and place a lot of emphasis on social dynamics, i.e. encouraging the more passive children to speak up and the more overbearing children to tone it down. 


3. Maybe most importantly, they use an inquiry-based, student-led curriculum and I think all the children feel that their voices are heard and their opinions respected on a daily basis. 


I'm sure as DD gets older there will be more issues, but from my experience it is possible to create an environment that staves off bullying for a while at least!

post #40 of 43

I see a lot of information about how to help children who are being bullied, but not much at all about how to help a child who has taken on the role of bully!  There are a lot of books and resources out there that encourage kids to stick up for themselves, but not much (that I've been able to find) that tells parents how to cope with a child that has finally taken that advice.  Perhaps to the extreme.


When my child first started school, she was bullied.  As the smallest in her class, this wasn't a surprise.  I was bullied for the same reason.  So was her father.  We knew this would happen (and her brother deals with it, as well, but boys just seem to hash it out and get over it so much more quickly.)


She started at a new school when we moved, and immediately butted heads with the school bully.  This girl was MEAN.  I would know.  I was her Girl Scout leader for two years.  This kid intimidated ME!  And when I spoke to her mother about it, she laughed and said "Oh that girl, she's such a character."  Um....


This year, my daughter ended up with a different group of girls, and after not too long, started coming home with tears in her eyes and stories of a new mean girl.  A girl that was formerly her friend.  I noticed, for the most part, the bullying stems from jealousy and fighting between the girls over who is whose "BFF".  There cannot be a group of three friends.  And whenever there IS a group of three friends, a power struggle ensues to decide who will come out as "BFFs" in the end.  It sucks.  And it's stupid.


So after it became clear that my advice of "Be nice to everyone, and they'll have no reason to be mean to you" was not working, I trekked into the principal's office for a chat.


It turns out....my daughter was the bully!  Wow!  My meek, shy little thing was the mean girl!  I was flabbergasted.  The principal acknowledged that it's certainly not a one way street.  That it seems to go back and forth between a bunch of them, and none of them are innocent.  But when I heard that a mother had actually come into the school crying, and freaking out at a teacher over my daughter bullying her daughter, I was mortified.  And confused.  And...lost.  What to do now?  My daughter has become the mean girl.  Years and years of telling her to stick up for herself caused her to just...snap... and stick up for herself.  But not in a good way.  To her, sticking up for herself meant putting others down.  To her, sticking up for herself meant mimicking what the other bullies had put her through.  It's the only way she knew how to deal with it.


So...where to go, now?  I have a pep talk with her every morning about being nice, and treating others the way she wants to be treated. But I'm not convinced it's working.  And I'm not convinced I can even trust her when she comes home and tells me that SHE'S being bullied, because she has already lied to me about it, this year.


I'm subbing, and am interested to see if there are any resources or help for familys on the OTHER side of the coin.  Bullies need help, too.  Or they can't change.

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