Background - DS is 6yo and recently started a summer camp program. The age range of this camp is K through 6th.
DS mentioned to me that two boys are teasing him and making fun of his name (nothing physical as far as I know) and he has to tell the teachers so they stop.
Two different staff members also mentioned this to me. I have a lot of faith in Staff Member A. She told me as much as she could about the situation, their plans for stopping the teasing and what steps they will take if the boys don't stop the behavior. She even went so far as to use the word "bullying". I don't have much faith in Staff Member B as she doesn't seem very interested in her job in general. I have known both women for 6 years as they worked for DS's daycare and preschool. The current summer camp is run by the same organization.
I am struggling with how to handle this. The mama bear in me is going nuts because I want results and it to stop now. The rational part of me realizes kids are prone to unpleasants behaviors and sometimes it takes a while and different tactics to get results.
I don't know the ages of the teasers. It is against the program's policy to give me specific details. If they are the same age as DS, I can sort of consider it just little kids being silly and not fully understanding how it hurts DS's feelings. If is older kids, I want it wring their necks. (not literally but you know what I mean)
When I asked DS about this, he immediately shuts down and tells me he doesn't want to talk about it.
At home and in his interactions with family, friends and the general public, he is a rather assertive little kids so I am a little surprised he is being timid with the teasers at camp, which makes me wonder if he is scared of these boys.
Any thoughts or advice on how to handle with with DS as well as with the camp? Any insight on why a normally assert kid would shut down in the face of teasing/bullying?
First off, I think it's total BS that they can't even tell you the ages of the kids who are bullying your son. That would give you a lot of insight as to the severity of what he might be going through. I think you need to insist on having that information, at least.
With the camp, I'd ask for a report every single day at pick up time about what happened during the day. I'd ask who my son played with... they shouldn't have any issues sharing information where there wasn't a problem. If you know the parents of the kids he plays with, maybe they'll be able to ask their kid if they've seen or experienced any bullying, too.
With my son, I'd talk to him about his day, but not pressure him to talk about the bullying. If he likes drawing, ask him to colour a picture of camp for you and see what he comes up with.
Is there any way you could drop in at camp one day and see how things are going there? My son went through a phase where he was telling me that he didn't have anyone to play with at lunch and didn't have any friends. I made a point of walking by the school grounds at lunch a few times and each time he was running around playing tag with a group of kids. His best friend had moved away a few months before that, and he just hadn't developed a close bond with anyone else yet... to him, it was distressing but he wasn't being excluded by the other kids and sitting on the sidelines on the verge of tears all lunch like I'd gotten the impression of from his description.
Yes, I can do drop ins at camp. When I pick him up, he is always playing with other children so I don't think he is isolated. He will talk about who he plays with and what they did.
I appreciate your post and I am going to talk to Staff Member A tomorrow and use your post as a basis for our conversation. Thanks, it is so hard to think clearly when it is your own kid.
I totally understand the desire to "wring their necks"! I have a fierce mama bear instinct, I suspect partly because my oldest son is quite timid (although he's getting past that a bit).
Anyhow, I recently had several conversations with my son about his day camp in which he expressed the fear of bullies. It was obvious that he wasn't just nervous about starting something now, but specifically being bullied. I told him that there will always be bullies around - the question is what kinds of things can *he* do to handle those situations if they arise.
I will continue to work at giving him ideas/skills/methods in dealing with bullies, because as he gets older the chances of him being bullied will increase. I teach middle school and I see bullying plenty. At some point it will be an issue in his life, in the lives of all of my kids, whether they are the victim or a bystander (or the bully, but I hope not!). I want to empower them to take control of the situation, so I will keep the conversations flowing, making sure I do a lot of listening, and helping them problem solve. I think the trick is to help them help themselves, despite our instinct of running to their aid and handling it ourselves. They need to learn how to stand up to bullies, or how to work their way out of the line of fire.
Jordana, mama to almost 8 year old Evan, 3 year old Atticus, and 1 year old Tabitha - my gifts from heaven
Since my last post, Staff Member A said she has not noticed any teasing at all. When I asked DS about it, he said he hasn't seen the one kid. The staff person told me one of the offenders was the same age as my son and the other was older 9 or 10 yo. She also said these kids where in the after school program together and came into this year's summer camp with a bit of a click mentality. She said they split the "gang" into differnet groups to expose them to "new" friends and that seems to have made a big difference. We shall see.....
What is hard within our family is that DH goes from 0 to 60 mph in a split second. His intentions are good but as soon as he heard this, he "jumped" all over DS, demanding to know who it was and all the details of what happened. Unfortunately, DS reacts to this sort of extreme information gathering as that he (DS) is getting in trouble and then he doesn't want to talk about it. DH knows he needs to work on his approach.
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