or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Teasing at school
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Teasing at school

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

My son is 9 and is having a hard time at school- he is now in third grade and the kids are getting mean and he says they tease him all the time.

I don't know what to do.  I am a single mom  and have to work or I would homeschool him in a heartbeat.  I do have the option to move or even try to put him in a private catholic school here. 

We are different and so is he- he is very artistic and deep and sensitive.  I am so scared for him and sad.  I don't know what to do or even what my options are or what the right road to go down is...

His dad lives in our town but sees them mostly every other weekend.  He needs to see his dad more... but he does not ever follow through when he says he will see them extra.


Anyone been through this- what did you do, how did you handle it?

He is in therapy.  He never wants to get out of bed, or go to school or go to boy scouts or do anything- he just wants to be home and not with people.


I never expected him to be the most popular boy in school  but him being teased to the point he no longer wants to attend school is to much.


We live in a rural community.... I just need some advice- if you were faced with these issues- what changes did you make, how did you help your kids through it and what do you reccomend?


Thank you,


post #2 of 28

What kinds of things are the kids teasing him about?

post #3 of 28

My first step would be to request a conference with the teacher and get a bigger picture of what's going on and ask what his/her take is and what options they would suggest.  And volunteer in the classroom and around school if you ever get the chance.


I hope someone has more input for you.

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

he won't really say just everything about him.  He is gifted and a little different but a very nice boy. It is so sad.

post #5 of 28

I wonder about the content of the teasing, since a lot of time I've noticed that kids who are on the insecure end of things tend to perceive more teasing than is really going on, as they expect it. Sometimes, it's something a kid can't come back from--like a pooper accident and the like. Sometimes, it's just that the school is smallish and there aren't many other kids who enjoy the same things and the whole rest of the class of boys plays hockey at recess--something like that. 


So, my ideas about how to approach it have a lot to do with the nature of the teasing and more details about the school avoidance. 


Is the school (principal, guidance counselor, teacher) aware of the difficulties?

post #6 of 28

I agree that it would be helpful to talk to the school, especially his teacher, to get a better handle on what is actually happening.


Is he in therapy due to this issue, or is there something else going on.


Also... You say that "We are different, and so is he..." I get that he is artistic, but how are the rest of you different? That might provide a clue as to what might be going on.

post #7 of 28
The content of the teasing is not important. The persistence across time and fact that the child doesn't want to go to school or scouts as a result of the teasing is. This consistutes bullying. I would write out your concerns to the teacher and copy the email to the school councilor and principal. In your email, outline the persistence of the teasing (I've been aware of this for X months....) and the consequences on your child that you've observed. Then request a discussion with the teacher about the problems.

There is no excuse for teasing. Kids do need to be taught how to treat each other appropriately. There are likely things you can do together with the teacher, school councilor, and his therapist to prevent drawing the teasing, but the kids doing the teasing need to be taught how to treat each other appropriately.

If you end up getting no where, then ask for a meeting with the principal and at the same time, ask for your district's bullying policy. By federal law, they have to have one, and they are all modeled on the same template.
post #8 of 28

I disagree that the content/context of the teasing is unimportant. It COULD be something relatively easily fixed that Mom simply hasn't noticed. Say... the kiddo had a growth spurt and Mom hasn't noticed that he's wearing floodpants for months. Or, everyone is relatively conservative, while kiddo sports a rainbow-colored mohawk. Is teasing right? Nope, not at all. When (and IF this is the case) choices are made to deliberately stand out, one needs to expect that attention will be drawn - and it may not all be positive.


My son has, in the past as well as currently, made some choices regarding his life and appearance that sometimes attracts attention. He's always marched to a very different drummer - those of us who know and love him don't much care. But... Those who don't? Do exist. And he has to learn how to deal with that. Ideally? We would all learn to live in harmony, accepting our differences, celebrating our similarities, etc. But we don't live in that ideal world.

post #9 of 28

I disagree.  There is no excuse for teasing a child intensely enough and long enough so that the child doesn't want to go to school.  I don't care if their pants are too short, they have rainbow hair, they pick their nose, they wet their pants, they are effeminate, or they have too many pimples.  No excuse.  Sure, work with the kid in understanding appropriate social norms and hygiene if that's an issue, but it shouldn't be where you start addressing the teasing.   The school must address the teasing.  Teasing should never be given a pass because the recipient is different.


Yes, a little teasing does happen here and there.  All kids experiment with social relationships and push boundaries of appropriate interaction.  Adults need to be involved to help guide that social growth into positive relationships.  A child in an appropriately supportive environment will have the help in deflecting the teasing.  Those doing the teasing will be redirected before it becomes systemic. 


It sounds like in this case that the situation has crossed the line into bullying.  Mom31, as I just had a discussion with our district's special education coordinator, it might also be good to ask the school if they employ an evidence-based anti-bullying program. 

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thank you,

I am not sure what it could be... I told him we could start doing his hair in a cooler cut and we did - and then I got him some new cool clothes- like that Shawn White stuff- I got rid of the pants that were tighter at the bottom?


When I say we are different I mean we are not materialistic- I am a single mom and I value different things then the social norm( fancy cars, expensive nike shoes etc) tho I do dress my kids well ( I think)

He just is sort of a book worm and into science and things like that.

He also goes to a higher grade for math class which he enjoys but I think some of it is he is very smart- much smarter than the kids in his class and he does not relate well to them- but he tries.


Different- hmmm... how to explain that... not different in a bad way just different I guess- I was teased in school to...

I am also struggling with the teacher- she is well- she is stuck in sorority life or high school- her hsuband is the head football coach of the high school and she is very immature( even tho she has two school age kids and is in her thirties)

When I have discussed things with her she has said out loud in front of the class to DS things that I have said to her.  I don't trust her to keep my confidence and not join in on the making fun of my son honestly.


She is very unprofessional.  In emails she ends sentences with !?!?!?!?!?! and LOL!!!!!!

I have spoken to the principal and he said he will check in on him from time to time and he does daily rounds with kids who need a little boost.  He also started in the divorce support group.  He is also now I am sure suffering with depression. :(  I started being depressed around 10 my mom said is when she noticed it the most.


He is having a hard time bcause his dad who lives down the road rarely sees him or spends time with him....


He is just struggling all around.


I am giong to work it from both angles- trying to cool him up I suppose and also build him up to understand that this is all temporary and there is a great big world out there waiting for him!  There is a lego club in a nearby town at the library I am going to sign him up for.  I am also going to call the mom of his best bud at school and see about setting up a play date.


I think the kids may be jealous of him in ways because he is so smart- and tease him about that-

I just don't want my babies to hurt.

post #11 of 28

What I would do:


1. Immediately set up a conference with his teacher and the school counselor (if your school has one). Let them know what is going on and see what suggestions they can come up. They may or may not be aware of what is going on and how it is effecting him.  Turning this around needs to be a team effort. Possibly have his private counselor write a letter to the school to help them understand the seriousness of the situation.


2. Talk to him about how these interaction play out, if they are happening everywhere (he  doesn't want to go to scouts either). Find out how he responds, and help him learn new ways to respond.


3. Address the "we are so different" issue. Are there things you can change to make him less of a target?   (it's not making an excuse for any one else's behavior -- its a practical suggestion that may be helpful to your child. )


4. Because he sounds depressed, I think it is important to spend time with him doing things he still likes to do. Does he enjoy playing board games with you? Baking some Christmas cookies? Anything that helps him find his smile again is a good.


5. Does he have any  friends? If so figure out ways to nurture those friendships, such as inviting the kids over, hosting a movie night, whatever. If he has no friends, bring this to the attention of the teacher and ask if she can help figure out who might be a likely friend for him and then invite the child over for a playdate. 


6. Are their any activities where you live besides scouts. He doesn't sound like a scout -- he sounds like he'd enjoy an art class more. Change up his life a bit.

post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 

Great advice Linda- and I am going to follow each step- I have already come up with a few different activities we can try.

ANd I have a friend from schools mom's number- We won't be able to get together till after holidays but then we will.

Also having another friend over this week.

Going to go see Christmas lights and bake cookies and go Christmas shopping.

post #13 of 28

In your conference with the teacher, don't forget to mention that it's not appropriate for her to repeat things you've told her in front of your son or the class.  All schools have privacy policies, sometimes teachers need reminding.  If this isn't working, can he move to another class? 

post #14 of 28

My inquiry about the specific content comes from the professional end of things. I'm always looking for ways to help a victim of teasing manage it. We could go to the school, scream and yell about bullies all day, but the truth is there is an element of teasing that is ever-present in school. When kids are afraid of being judged, they typically spread it around liberally. Sometimes the teasing is simple feedback, and it's embarrassing, so it seems teas-y but it might not be. It's really worth a long patient talk, for sure. Here are some example of content-related teasing I've seen over time, and what happened to the kid....


1. Girl in 3rd grade--bouncy, happy, joyful. Suddenly not wanting to go to school, sullen, seems depressed. Says a boy said something mean. Truth? Boy said "you sure bounce a lot when you walk", and he was CUTE. One little comment. just one did it, and it took months to put the bounce back in her step. The girl was happy, yet did not yet have a strong enough sense of self to say "I sure do!!"


2.  Shy boy, always 'picked last', kind of awkward. The other boys laughed at him at recess because he preferred to read a book, and they mocked him for being a "schoolboy". The girls, in general, really liked him as he was "super hot" (per the other kids--in elementary school, even!!). We worked with that angle, and facilitated some more female friendships for him. He ended up doing a bit of modeling -- and you would not believe what that did to his self confidence. Later he joined cross-country and found some fellas to hang out with. 


3. The pooper. Poor kid in 1st grade, felt sick, did a job in his shorts in class. Ultimately, his parents switched schools for him. For a year, kids were calling him various versions of "pooper". Despite our best efforts at helping him with using other defenses, he could only cry when the teasing happened. There was no coming back from this one, despite a great crew of kids and a great staff.


4. The bullied bullier. 1st grader (previously the tiny guy) meets a new kindergardener (the new tiny guy) and lets loose on the teasing about being a baby. The new kindergardener, a sensitive kid, doesn't want to attend school anymore. The first grader was put in a position by staff of protecting the kinder from teasing by yet other kids. No more problems.


5. The snorter. Girl no longer laughs at all at school, since once she cracked up in lunch and spewed her sandwich on her friends while snort-laughing. She overreacted by not laughing anymore, when all she needed to do was try hard not to crack up with food in her mouth. When her friends backed away from her the next day at lunch, she assumed they were "divorcing" her, and told mom they hated her, she had no friends, and didn't want to go back. Luckily--the girls were all old friends and the moms figured it out.


6. The gay-basher. A teenager came to see me with her mom because of bullying. All her friends were mocking her, sending crappy facebook messages, not talking to her at school. After a few weeks, she finally shared what happened. Her best friend, a boy, came out. She was part of a very strict church, and told him he was going to hell, had to stop it and she didn't know if she could be friends with him anymore. That went over like a brick with the set of friends, who (rightfully so) blocked her from all their activities. 


Those are just a few off the top of my head, when I think of how the content of the teasing complaint really mattered. Most of the above are not straight-up bullying...but that said, there are certainly times that bullying is occurring. It's just really important to find out what's being said and why. If we'd just barreled into school helicopter style without taking time to find out what the teasing was about, we would never have come up with creative interventions that really helped. 

post #15 of 28
I helped my dd through a hard phase of being bullied by empathizing but also probing for details about what was going on and asking her how she handled it then helping her come up with a different plan. I also addressed it with the teacher and they were very good at helping each incident stop.

Some of my dd's problems stemmed from being oversensitive and I did feel it was important to work on that because her reactions drew a lot of bullying. It would be awesome if we lived in a perfect world where children who have melodramatic reactions don't draw bullying or where schools could nip bully's in the bud quickly but that isn't reality where we are and learning to change her reaction has cut the bullying back to the occasional bad day versus bad days most days as it was before.

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander gave me a lot of insight to identify the behaviours that draw a bully in as well as reasons people bully or stand by.
post #16 of 28

We just went through a bad phase in bullying with my 4th grader. In the end we did  change schools. I agree with a lot that has been said. Get your therapist involved. Our therapist was willing to go into our school and assist the school, there was no counselor at our old school. If you have a  school counselor, meet with them. Our counselor at our new school has been amazingly proactive in trying to make sure this would not be repeated. Go through the chains at the school, teacher, counselor, pull in the principal if you have to. I had numerous meetings with our teacher and principal. 


What DD1 was experiencing at school was not ok. She was also being very sensitive about it (and rightfully so, feelings can be easily hurt!), we did work on what we could with it. Role playing, making sure she had safe places to vent, working on her reactions to events, teaching her to be assertive, all important skills she will need later. Gradually the bullying DID improve but during all of this, because the teacher's reactions were not appropriate, (she had blamed a lot of the incidents on DD1 being "too sensitive"), DD1 did become more assertive and she put her foot down. DD1 had lost all respect for her teacher, she knew the situation had not been handled well, and in the end, there was no recovering that special teacher/student bond they once had. DD1 requested a school change because a teacher change was not possible this year. It has been a very wise deciosn and honestly we should of done it a while ago instead of trying to stick it out. 

post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 

That's what I am thinking...


Thank you all for your ideas and support.

Right now we are excited for winter break

post #18 of 28

Could you switch him from Scouts to some form of martial art?  I don't mean so that he can beat up bullies or anything, but a bit of martial arts training might help build his confidence and act as a balance to his intellectual side.  And once he has that extra confidence, he might not be as popular a target, and might be more resilient about any teasing that happens.


That teacher sounds terrible!  I hope you report every unprofessional thing she does and says, even if you wait until your son is out of her class to do it.

post #19 of 28

My first thought when you described him before you even mentioned the gifted part was that this might be a gifted child.  My oldest, who is highly gifted and a bit different as well, had a hard time in elementary.  There were some okay years and some very hard years.  The things that helped:


* Like you've tried, I was very careful to buy her clothes at stores and in styles that didn't stand out as odd.  I, of course, didn't make her buy things she didn't like, but made sure that she didn't look weird to the other kids.

* She has done much better socially after being grade skipped and when she's had the opportunity to have other gifted peers who are older than she.

* Changing schools when the social situation was just too bad or when she had been pegged by the other kids in a manner that made it hard for her to remake herself in their eyes. 


Some of the sensitivity, at least the outward expression of it, abated as she got older.  She's still a sensitive soul, but getting older seems to have granted her some maturity in terms of how she views and reacts to other kids.  For instance, she tended to take actions by other kids or even the teacher at times in a way that they weren't intended and got visibly upset, which probably made her stand out more.  Kids tend to pick on the kids who are obviously acting upset.


Is there any possibility that you could find him an older gifted teen as a mentor?  I'd suspect that a combo of building his confidence through things like the martial arts the pp mentioned and/or finding him a mentor and maybe considering a new school or classroom might help.

post #20 of 28

Another thought hit me: DD does Girl Scouting and campfire online. I wonder if it's possible to continue Boy Scouts online as well? It's a great concept, but sometimes the experience depends an awful lot on who is running the show in the area too. That way, he can continue earning his way through, but (at least for now) not have to deal with the peer issues. If he sticks with scouting through Eagle, he'll have scouting peers who are not the pick-on types. I've not met many boys who stick with scouts until teen years who are the bullying sort.



New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Teasing at school