Kindergarten bullying - UPDATED!!! My son "brings it on himself." - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-23-2011, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son started kindergarten in September. He was so excited to go. He has been struggling a little bit with reading and writing in comparison to his peers. He is one of the only kids in his class who did not attend preschool. We have him in early intervention to help with that. He is a little bit socially awkward, but he is working through that. Lately, he has been spacing out in class. I attributed it soley to life at home being hectic this past month. But three days ago, he came home and told me that kids we're making fun of him in class. Two little girls were telling him that no one likes him and that he doesn't have any friends. So he asked the.kids at his desk to raise their hands if they like him. None of them raised their hands. Another boy...we'll call him Alex...said the whole class needs a vacation from David. David was hurt by all.this. Apparently they were just riding him the whole day. He then said that one of the little girls constantly calls him stupid and tells him that he doesn't do any of his work right and that all of his schoolwork sucks. This obviously has made him feel bad about himself. We were doing his homework the other night and he spent a half hour under the table screaming, "I'm stupid!"I'm over and over again. I believe this is a result of bring told he is stupid everyday by this little girl.

I keep hearing arguments that kids will be kids and that being picked on builds character. I understand that we all face adversity at one point or another. However, I don't exactly think that bullying is necessary for building character. I was bullied terribly in school and it didn't build character. It turned me into a woman who is insecure, bitter and full of rage. So...I'm not in favor if the argument that kids will be kids.

I requested a meeting without his teacher to discuss this. I told her everything that he told me and how I believe some of it is causing him to just mentally shut off in class and "space out." She said she did overhear the girls say that no one liked him and that she spoke to them immediately about it. She says she is very anti bullying and that she has explained to the class that they don't need to be friends after school, but that they need to get along while in class. She said she don't tolerate that behavior with any of the kids. That meeting was two days ago. He said yesterday was a great day. Today, he came home and told me that Alex called him "gay." Sigh . I don't know what to do. I explained what it meant to be gay and told him that some people have a problem with gays because they don't know any better. School isn't back I was session until after the new year. I don't want to let this go.
O

Tonight, he lit the Menorah and sat down and prayed. His prayers broke my heart. "Please don"f let me hurt. Please don't let the kids call me names. Please don't let them call me gay gay gay. Please let me have a better life and make the kids be nice to me. Please let me have peace. " A five year old should not feel the need to say a prayer like that.

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Old 12-23-2011, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am sorry....I am posting this from my phone and it kept insisting that I add a poll and wouldn't post unless I dud so.

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Old 12-23-2011, 10:12 PM
 
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No this is not ok. I'm not sure what exactly to tell you what to do. We go to a tiny private school because my DD1 had/has issues that were better suited for alternative schooling options so I am not always very knowledgeable about how things work in public schools. 

 

Going to the teacher was definitely the first step and it is going to take time since it was only 2 days between the meeting and this incident. I would probably make her aware of the latest incident via an email, is there a plan in place about when she would like to be notified about things. You mentioned EI, since that only goes to age 3, I'm assuming you meant the school district is providing services for him?  And specifically working on social issues? I would agree with you that bullying does not build character and that he is far too young to deal with this. I'm just not up on what they can and can not enforce in the schools. I know this is not uncommon in this young of a age group. We've had several 1st grade students that came to our school because they were being bullied in the public schools. Big hugs to you and your little guy. It is heartbreaking as a parent to watch your child go through this.


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Old 12-24-2011, 06:28 AM
 
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Does the school have a counselor? If so I suggest asking them what steps they can take to mediate. The counselor at my dd's public school was very good at helping kids learn not to bully others in a gentle way while also helping the kid being bullied to learn how to control some of the behaviors that tend to make them a bully magnet.

If not then I suggest writing an email to the teacher each time an incident happens so she can be more on top of it and requesting a new table for him to work at with the children who seem gentler with their peers. Giving him phrases he can use in the moment, emphasizing the importance of not whining or crying for the bullies satisfaction,making sure he looks and smells clean, setting up playdates, and pointing out the positive things he does (with an emphasis on no negative in the morning no matter how frustrating it is to get him our) are things that I found really help to bullyproof a child when my DD was experiencing bullying.
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:15 AM
 
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I think that the the situation deserves a more formal, on-going response from the school. If you thing the teacher is doing as much as she can I'd tell her that, but that you think you need more help and will ask the school counselor to coordinate a meeting for the three of you to work out how this can be addressed; I'd probably also propose sending them both e-mail updates, perhaps daily at first, so you can keep them informed of how your ds is perceiving his day (and so you have a paper trail smile.gif). It's possible that Alex and that girl are the social leaders and most of the rest of the class is just following along (this seems worse in K), which is why a bullying intervention plan has to address the bully, the bullied, and the bystander -- there is a book with that title, though I've read that Bullying - What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe offers more concrete advice on what you can do.

 

Is he young for his grade? Does the school have a late cut off such as Dec 1? Ds' birthday is at the end of March and though that didn't seem late to me, apparently our Sept 1 cut-off made ds one of the last of his class to turn 6 (most were 6 by January); he also is ADHD and likely Asperger's as well which didn't help with maturity and social skills. He (finally) is getting speech therapy at school that should address his social skills (social reciprocity and pragmatics). Ds was a couple of heads taller than the other students in K and academically advanced, but if he had been behind we probably would have more seriously considered having him repeat K when we switched schools for 1st grade. First grade was still a bit rough socially and required a lot of monitoring from his teacher; this year is going a lot better--at ds' current school we don't have buses and pick them up from the teacher so I have the chance to check in with them in person daily.

 

Quote:

…a common misconception is that one assembly, a zero-tolerance policy, anger management training or self-esteem boosting strategies, group treatment for children who bully, or simply posting rules against bullying will stop bullying from occurring... Bullying prevention involves a total commitment from all school personnel…, parents and caregivers and students to provide a safe and secure learning environment.

 

The Bullying Prevention Institute offers CE sessions for school personnel and other professionals at no cost to your school, as well as resources to share with colleagues and information you can share with parents and students to help guide their prevention efforts. 99wds.  http://www.bullyingpreventioninstitute.org/Outreach.aspx

 

Myths About Bullying

 

Parents

 

Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Tip Sheet

 

Bullying Prevention - Center for Safe Schools


"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:55 AM
 
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In addition to the good advice from pp, you can try to nurture a friendship or two to help him along, if he doesn't already have a couple of closer friends in the class. The teacher may help you identify some children who like playing together with him. Perhaps you can host after-school or weekend playdates or arrange park meet-ups with the other parents. It will help him build a social network. 

 

I would also consider an extra-curricular activity or two to expand his social network outside of his classmates. If he has a good experience and a few friends at a drama group, choir, art class, sport activity, lego club or whatever activity he enjoys, it will help him feel less alone. 

 

Good luck, I hope things improve for him in the new year. 

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Old 12-26-2011, 09:21 AM
 
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Is there any possibility of switching him to a different 1st grade class after the winter break to give him a fresh start with a different social group?  If that is something you want to consider, I'd make it clear to the teacher that it isn't a request for a different teacher, but a chance for him to get a start with different kids who haven't already formed a negative opinion of him.

 

I, like you, had some years in school where I was terribly bullied and what I recall is that the school might be able to get the other kids to grudgingly treat a bullied child better but the school wasn't able to really make the other kids like that child.  I think that kids know the difference btwn being truly liked and being tolerated.

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Old 12-27-2011, 09:23 AM
 
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"I keep hearing arguments that kids will be kids and that being picked on builds character. I understand that we all face adversity at one point or another. However, I don't exactly think that bullying is necessary for building character. I was bullied terribly in school and it didn't build character. It turned me into a woman who is insecure, bitter and full of rage. So...I'm not in favor if the argument that kids will be kids."

 

I'm honestly surprised your hearing this argument (Is this from school officials or family/friends?)  My oldest went to a very large and typical public school for 2 1/2 yrs.  There was definitely bullying that went on but in our experience (like what the teacher said when you spoke with her) nowadays most schools take a very anti-bullying stance.

 

First I am so sorry your son is going through this.  This is a terrible way to start off his school experience.  I agree with the previous posters, especially about taking this seriously and communicating daily with the teacher and the school counselor, as well as hosting playdates with some of his classmates and encouraging his social network in and out of school.  I wanted to add--do any of the kids saying these things sit at the same desk space with your son?  If so I'd request your teacher move your son to a new seating arrangement asap.  I don't know that I agree to move him to a different class though unless you feel the teacher does not help the situation.  For kids having a hard time socially, I don't believe that changing their entire class in the middle of the year will result in a better outcome without subjecting the child to the anxiety that comes with a brand new classroom.

 

I'd also recommend asking the teacher if you can come in to school and observe the class.  From our experience the public school we were at was always incredibly open about allowing parents into the classroom at any time.  I think it would be helpful for you to see how your son is behaving first hand (what his "space out" situations are really like) and how the he is interacting with the other students.  Or go and eat lunch with him.  At the very least, I know our school always needed parent helpers--volunteering can give you the same ability to observe, and will allow you and the teacher to develop a deeper relationship.  I know teachers are required by law to do everything to help situations in their classroom; however they are human and I honestly think that they will go the extra mile for a family who is a regular volunteer.  Maybe that sounds like a terrible way to think of it but its my opinion ;)

 

Last, when you talk to the school counselor, I would propose the teacher/counselor do a class lesson(s) on bullying.  My son's second grade teacher periodically did this with the class.  I think when they see authority figures doing things actively with the class all the kids consider their actions more seriously.

 

Hugs, mama. 

 

 

 

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Old 12-28-2011, 08:38 AM
 
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I'm so sorry your son is going through this.  I think your best plan would be to find an alternative.  You've told the teacher about the problem, and nothing has improved.  This is not a good sign.  Can you switch classrooms?  Can you pull your son and homeschool him, or send him to a different school?  The school he's at sounds way too academic for kindergarten. 

 

I just don't see his present situation improving enough to be tolerable for him.  The teacher is apparently not in control of her classroom, since she first didn't notice the bullying, and second has nothing helpful to offer to make it stop.  I think the well is poisoned and you need to get him out of there pronto.

 

I've had to move both of my kids out of bad situations, and in both cases, my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

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Old 12-28-2011, 10:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by FedUpMom View Post

I'm so sorry your son is going through this.  I think your best plan would be to find an alternative.  You've told the teacher about the problem, and nothing has improved.  This is not a good sign.  Can you switch classrooms?  Can you pull your son and homeschool him, or send him to a different school?



??  The OP posted 2 days after bringing the situation to the attention of the teacher, and it sounds like the teacher was already on it, but maybe not as aware of the severity of the situation. 

 

In general practice, switching out of the room or the school does not appear to help the bullied kids (I think Bully, Bullied, and the Bystander had some data?).  By switching him, you highlight to him that the problem is him and not the peers.  There is an implicit sense of failure in the switch, even when done quite positively.  There are some situations where the kid simply must be removed, but this teacher has not been allowed to have the time to address it.   What is  effective is to experience having others understand him in the severity of the situation, come to his aid, and to help him through it.  Most effective is to have a peer stand up for him either by not putting up with the bully's behavior or by being a close enough friend so that the bully stops on his/her own.  That's a lot to ask of 5 year olds, but when they're this young, having mom and the teacher address it head on can still be very effective.

 

MrsMike, if you are comfortable sharing your son's prayer, then I would send that to the teacher word for word.  It really underscores the severity of how it's affecting him.  The advice above is solid: 

*Find allies -- bring compatible kids over for playdates, join scouts, find a sports team, or other activities where you will find kids compatible.  He may need some social skills development either by nature of his personality, or by nature of not having gone to preschool. 

*Bring in the school councilor.

*Request that the problem kids be kept away from him.  Not at the same table, not near each other for circle time or other activities.  Request that playground aids be aware of the issue and the problem kids.

*Alert the principal -- I find it effective to write the principal an email, cc'd to the teacher with the tone of "I'm alerting you to an ongoing situation.  I'm working with the classroom teacher to address the problem.  I want you to be aware of the developing situation due to its severity." 

*Keep a log of events, comments your son makes, and communications with the teacher.  Follow up every in-person conversation with someone in the school about the situation with an email simply outlining the content of the conversation and what each of you agreed to do. 

*Request that the parents of the bullies be made aware of the situation.  This one is dicey, and some would contact the parents directly, and some people have had the experience of things being made worse by bringing the other parents in.  In this situation, I would not address the parents because of the inflammatory nature of the taunts.   5 year olds going around calling other kids gay are likely getting that from somewhere close to home.

 

Realize that at least in my school, while there is a strong anti-bully stance, they tend to view the poor behavior of the bully in the context of the bully needing to develop social skills themselves.  This is not always super effective.  The push down the slide is sometime followed with an "ooops, sorry, that was an accident."  whistling.gif

 

 

And no, suffering this kind of abuse at the hands of ones peers does nothing for their character development. 

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Old 12-29-2011, 09:59 AM
 
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@Geofizz, you have more faith in the school's ability to solve the problem than I do.  I think we'll have to agree to disagree.  Knowing what i know now, and after having the experiences I've had, if this were my son, I would get him out of that classroom.

 

I wanted to highlight something from the original post:

 

***

She says she is very anti bullying and that she has explained to the class that they don't need to be friends after school, but that they need to get along while in class.

***

 

This strikes me as a very odd way to tell kindergarten kids that bullying won't be tolerated.  If you start with the statement "you don't need to be friends after school", you're almost telling the kids that you don't expect them to like each other.

 

It would be better to tell the kids that certain behaviors are never OK, in or out of school.  It's never OK to hit, and it's never OK to call another kid "stupid" or tell him that his schoolwork sucks.

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Old 12-29-2011, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to reply. I will respond in detail in the next day or so when I have the chance to sit at my computer. I just typed up a long reply on my DROID phone and *poof* it disappeared. I'm technology stupid. Thank you to everyone for your insight.

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Old 12-29-2011, 02:16 PM
 
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I'm a teacher, and if a parent came to me 2 days ago and I worked on addressing it, and I didn't hear anything from the parent/child again, I would assume what I was doing was working.  

 

So I think for sure, as other posters said, it needs to be an ongoing conversation with the teacher, with a method for communicating what he is telling you (but not telling her?  have you told him that it's safe to tell the adults at school when this happens also?).

 

Do you have a communication notebook with the teacher?  email?  If what she's doing isn't working yet, then she needs to know so you can come up with a plan to address it on a different level.  Involving the school social worker or therapist couldn't hurt.  

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Old 12-30-2011, 03:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

In general practice, switching out of the room or the school does not appear to help the bullied kids (I think Bully, Bullied, and the Bystander had some data?).  By switching him, you highlight to him that the problem is him and not the peers.  There is an implicit sense of failure in the switch, even when done quite positively. 



Just wanted to address this bit quickly. In the case of our DS (now 9, 7 at the time), switching him to a new school was the BEST option and he's absolutely thriving. We switched him to a new school in the middle of the term (in his 2nd grade year after several years of exclusion) and he's blossomed. He's got lots of friends now and though he's never gonna'  be the most popular boy in his class, he fits in and is happy.I only wish we'd done it sooner, to be honest.

 

We, too, have the book Bully, Bullied, and Bystander and I never found it to be very helpful for the situations we were dealing with with our DS. He's an artsy, non-sporty, dreamy, creative, sweet little boy who just never fit in with his classmates and was, by the time we moved him, pretty systematically excluded. There was little actual physical bullying going on, that we could tell, but lots and lots of, "No, we don't want to play with you." "No, you can't play with us." "D. is weird" and so forth. He was fairly beaten down by it all. And, yes, we talked with all his teachers, even sent him to social skills training (and the social skills trainers thought it was odd that he was even there because he's a very social kid!). Although the teachers did their best, nothing was really working.

 

While I completely get what Geofizz is saying re: feelings of failure, I don't think you should rule out switching your son to a new class or school. Sometimes kids just get pigeon-holed in a role in a class or school, through no fault of their own, and then it's almost impossible to break out of. In our case, our DS *wanted* to move schools and we approached it very much as, "The other school wasn't a good fit. This school is. That happens sometimes and that's no one's fault." Perhaps because he fit in so immediately in his new school, he hasn't had a moment of feeling like a failure. In fact, he kind of shakes his head and says, "Those other kids really lost out by not having me in their class!" smile.gif

 

Every situation is different, but I just wanted to chime in and say that switching can be a great option.

 

 

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Old 12-30-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post



??  The OP posted 2 days after bringing the situation to the attention of the teacher, and it sounds like the teacher was already on it, but maybe not as aware of the severity of the situation. 

 



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by FedUpMom View Post

@Geofizz, you have more faith in the school's ability to solve the problem than I do.  I think we'll have to agree to disagree.  Knowing what i know now, and after having the experiences I've had, if this were my son, I would get him out of that classroom.

 

 


My knee jerk reaction sides with FedUp Mom.  I do not have a lot of faith in a schools ability to end bullying.  I have not seen it.  

 

My less knee-jerk reaction is that 2 days is not particularly long to solve this type of problems.  I would give it a bit more time (maybe a month?) to see if any change can be made in the situation.  Here is my thinking:

 

1.  In life, I think we should try to fix situations before we end them.  I have no qualms with ending a poor situation, but I like to know I tried first.  i am not sure if 6 is too young for this life lesson, though

 

2.  Your teacher seems to be working on it, and on your side.  Who knows what another teacher would be like?

 

3.  Kids are bullied for all sorts of reason.  While it is never their fault, some kids engage in behaviours that attract negative attention on themselves. If you move the kid, the problem might just move with the kid (or it might not).

 

I would not wait a long time to change things though.  Bullying is heartbreaking - if it goes on too long, move him.

 

 

It sounds like he sits it a cluster of desks?  Can he switch to another one?  That is a pretty easy change to make.

 

 

 

 

 

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Old 01-01-2012, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 Ok - finally back to my real computer. Again, thank you all so much for taking the time to read my post and share your advice. I really do appreciate it. And now onto specifics.

 

Early intervention - that's my mistake. I just used that term. It's reading intervention. It's a 30 minute class after school ends to supplement their reading/writing/vocabulary. Ds tested "at grade level" in the beginning, but has fallen behind so his teacher recommended this for him. It's a very small class (5 other kindergarten kids) taught by the reading specialist. He really enjoys this class and had been making progress. The teacher for this class also noticed a change in him a couple of weeks ago. Again, I attributed it to a hectic home life for that month (DD was in the hospital and has been getting treatment for a benign hemangioma), but now I know that this bullying was also a contributing factor.

 

Social life/Friends - he does have a "favorite friend" in that class. This little boy is actually the son of my friend and co-worker. They have had a couple of playdates and we're going to make an effort to have more. Ds goes to a sports class and Tae Kwon Do at the YMCA. In the past, he has also gone for swim lessons (taking a break in the winter) and story/singing time at the library. Every few months he takes an art class at the high school through the school district's community education program. So, he has had interaction with other kids. I am trying to get him more playdates now with other friends as well as take him to playgrounds and indoor play areas more often. He really enjoys interacting with other kids. He is on the younger side of his classmates. There are a few younger than him. The cut off is December 1st and his birthday is in July.

 

The teacher - I really do like her so far. I don't have anything to indicate that she will be a roadblock concerning this issue. She was very open about talking to me with this issue and very concerned. I DO think it's possible for this to go undetected. It happened to me when I was in grade school. Now, if it's happening every single day and all day and she doesn't do anything about it, then there is a definite problem. Like I said, she did notice one incident and the girls were quickly reprimanded. They have one "special" class each day - art, library, music and gym. For those classes they have different teachers. So, it's possible that this latest incident happened in the other classes. I do not know those teachers as well as I know his homeroom teacher. They do have outdoor recess, weather permitting, but I don't know the dynamics of how well the teacher can hear everything. His teacher definitely encourages open communication. I drop him off and pick him up each day so I see her those times. She encourages emailing her as a way to keep up with how our kids are doing in class. Parents are encouraged to participate/volunteer in class. I haven't done much because I have a 4 month old baby who REFUSES to take a bottle of EBM and I don't always have someone who can watch her while I'm gone. Now, at this last meeting with the teacher, she did mention trying to volunteer more in the class so that I could see Ds in action and get a feel for the dynamics. She said it was fine to bring the baby and we could set up a little spot for her to play. I'm definitely going to work something out so I can get into school more often. At this moment in time, I have every indication to believe that she will work with me on this issue.

 

Switching class/school - I have thought about it and it would be a last resort move. First, and most basic, the two kindergarten classes are linked together. They share an activity once every week to two weeks, so he would still see the same kids quite often. Also, I don't know if I'm very fond of the other teacher. Granted, I haven't talked to her much, but I just don't get a warm fuzzy feeling. I could be completely wrong, though. Second, Ds' probably would not handle a move very well and I think it could possibly make things much worse at this point. I agree with Geofizz's statement:

 

*****"In general practice, switching out of the room or the school does not appear to help the bullied kids (I think Bully, Bullied, and the Bystander had some data?).  By switching him, you highlight to him that the problem is him and not the peers.  There is an implicit sense of failure in the switch, even when done quite positively.  There are some situations where the kid simply must be removed, but this teacher has not been allowed to have the time to address it.   What is  effective is to experience having others understand him in the severity of the situation, come to his aid, and to help him through it.  Most effective is to have a peer stand up for him either by not putting up with the bully's behavior or by being a close enough friend so that the bully stops on his/her own.  That's a lot to ask of 5 year olds, but when they're this young, having mom and the teacher address it head on can still be very effective."*****

 

David is definitely the type who would take such a move very personally. Now, if things continue to escalate and there is no resolution, then I will certainly reconsider a switch. For now, I want to see how well we can work with the other students, his teacher and the school. I also have my own experience that colors my decision. I was bullied since first grade. After fourth grade, my parents switched me to another school (from public to Catholic) in order to get away from the bullying. It didn't help. The bullying got worse. I was the new kid and I developed acne a few months after the switch and the bullying was just piled on from there. I know it can help in some situations and it can make it worse in others.

 

The plan - I fully intend to keep a record of everything he tells me and will be sharing that with the teacher. The students have been on Winter break since Friday, the 23rd. It was that Friday that he told me about the incident with the kid calling him "gay." He told me later that afternoon, so tomorrow will be the first time I see his teacher since then and I will address it. I did email her tonight. I felt weird emailing her over this past week during the break. I wrote the email almost a week ago, saved the draft and sent it tonight. I did share what my son said during his prayer. I told her I wanted to keep in communication with her and that I want him to speak with the counselor and that I plan to contact the principle so he is aware of the situation and our efforts to resolve it. At our last meeting, his teacher told me that she is switching seats around when they go back to school, which is tomorrow. All of the bullying has come from the kids at his table. So, he'll be moving away from them. She said she is going to place him at a table with his best friend and with another kid that she knows he gets along with pretty well. I also plan on starting our mornings better. It can get hectic and rushed in the morning and I want  to calm it down and let him go into school with some affirmations.

 

I'm not letting this die. I don't want my son to turn into me. People - friends - have told me it builds character. As I stated in my OP, this is simply not true. It kills my heart to see him so hurt by this. I understand that I can't make other kids like him and that he is going to face opposition as part of growing up, but I'm not going to let other kids treat him like shit and make him want a better life.

 

 

 

 



 


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Old 01-02-2012, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay. Maybe things are going to be worse. I spoke with his teacher this am. I outlined everything about the kid calling him gay, the prayers and how my son faked a neck injury and a belly ache this morning to avoid school. She said she was shocked that this other little boy called him gay. She moved all of the kids' seat and Ds now sits with his best friend and two other really nice little boys. Fine. And then she just said, "you know, it doesn't excuse anything or make any of this right, but he kinda brings it on himself." I have never felt that much rage. I wasn't able to say much after that except, "No. No. I won't have that. There is no excuse. I can be really easygoing in dealing with this, but I can also be not-so easygoing. Ok?" She then backpedaled a little bit and I said I want my son to speak with the counselor and that I'll be in touch with the counselor and the principal. We agreed on a plpan for me to email her each day and let her know of any incidents. But I'm so f*cking pissed. There is NO excuse in the world for saying that my son brings it on himself. By that logic, I guess I can tell my son to go into class and curse out and punch all of his bullies. After all, they bring it on themselves.


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Old 01-02-2012, 09:29 AM
 
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Time to make an in person appointment with the principal. Ask for the teacher and councilor to be present, but prioritize urgency of scheduling over getting everyone there. Bring your time line of the problems, starting when you started observing problems, to figuring out the problem, to each conversation with the teacher about the matter. Bring up the slipping performance in reading development.

Yes, kids can "bring it on to themselves" by nature of personality (or become targets because of religion, ethnicity, or disability). The can also be easy targets by proximity to kids that are natural bullies. That means the kid needs help developing the tools to avoid the bullying and separated from problem kids, but it can't be an excuse for the ongoing bullying.

ETA. I sound a but like I'm defending the teacher. Nope. She's 100% in the wrong by putting the blame on your son. However, it is true that some kids just draw out the worst in kids inclind to bully. My daughter is that kid. She's timid, has interests divergent from her peers, she struggles with keeping up her personal appearence, and had several bathroom incidents well into first grade. She's also terrified of breaking rules, so kids would torment her when kids were to be silent because they knew she wouldn't break the "rule" to be silent to alert the teacher she was being injured. These issues are hard because you do need to work with your child about how to respond to the situations to respond appropriately. By nature of these events, you son does need to learn strategies to keep the bullying from happening. However, that in no way shape or form excuses the ongoing torment or a teacher excusing it as anything but what it is: bullying in clear violation of school policy or human decancy.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:34 AM
 
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Hugs, mama!

 

Some kids react in ways that bring negative attention on themselves.  These can include crying, throwing fits, making weird noises, etc.  

 

I do not like the expression "bring it on himself" but perhaps what she really meant was "reacts poorly" - but just phrased it badly.

 

In any event, I would not allow myself being ticked at the teacher (and i would be very ticked) to prevent me from getting information from her that might be helpful to my son.  

 

I would email the teacher and ask specifically what Ds is doing to bring it "on himself".  If she gives you some answers, you might be able to role model with him alternate ways of dealing with things that are more socially acceptable.

 

It might be (finger crossed for you and your son!) that a seat switch is all that is required.  

 

edited to add:  I would start keeping a written record of events, and as Geofizz mentioned, a timeline.  

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Old 01-02-2012, 09:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Hugs, mama!

 

Some kids react in ways that bring negative attention on themselves.  These can include crying, throwing fits, making weird noises, etc.  

 

I do not like the expression "bring it on himself" but perhaps what she really meant was "reacts poorly" - but just phrased it badly.

 

In any event, I would not allow myself being ticked at the teacher (and i would be very ticked) to prevent me from getting information from her that might be helpful to my son.  

 

I would email the teacher and ask specifically what Ds is doing to bring it "on himself".  If she gives you some answers, you might be able to role model with him alternate ways of dealing with things that are more socially acceptable.

 

It might be (finger crossed for you and your son!) that a seat switch is all that is required.  

 

edited to add:  I would start keeping a written record of events, and as Geofizz mentioned, a timeline.  


Yes to this. You need the information of his reactions. Spending time in the classroom is honestly not that helpful as other kids know you're watching. You likely win't see what's happening. You do need to figure out the ins and outs of the interactions, and the teacher needs to give you the information. I worry that the wording the teacher used betrayed a lack of understanding of what bullying is in the 5-7 year old group, which is why I suggest now going to the principal with the issues. Drop in performance in school is something principals take to heart, which is why I suggest you highlight that in your discussion.
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Old 01-02-2012, 10:35 AM
 
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Okay. Maybe things are going to be worse. I spoke with his teacher this am. I outlined everything about the kid calling him gay, the prayers and how my son faked a neck injury and a belly ache this morning to avoid school. She said she was shocked that this other little boy called him gay. She moved all of the kids' seat and Ds now sits with his best friend and two other really nice little boys. Fine. And then she just said, "you know, it doesn't excuse anything or make any of this right, but he kinda brings it on himself." I have never felt that much rage. I wasn't able to say much after that except, "No. No. I won't have that. There is no excuse. I can be really easygoing in dealing with this, but I can also be not-so easygoing. OK?" She then backpedaled a little bit and I said I want my son to speak with the counselor and that I'll be in touch with the counselor and the principal. We agreed on a plpan for me to email her each day and let her know of any incidents. But I'm so f*cking pissed. There is NO excuse in the world for saying that my son brings it on himself. By that logic, I guess I can tell my son to go into class and curse out and punch all of his bullies. After all, they bring it on themselves.

I understand why her saying that your son "brings it on himself" was upsetting to you. This, unfortunately, is a very common attitude about bullying. I even got that reaction on this site in another thread when I suggested that understanding why a bully acts like they do helps my son because it allows him to understand that it's not his fault. The responses I got basically told me that it is his fault and instead I should be making him aware of what he does to make himself a target. I completely disagree. I know what makes my son the target. He's sensitive and he's the youngest in his grade. Either of which is likely to make him a target. It doesn't matter why the kids picked him. If they hadn't picked him they would have and do pick on someone else. The problem is not my son the problem is the bully and that is where the problem needs addressed. My son does let things roll off his back easier and has been becoming less fun to torment. Now he tends to jump to the defense of the bully's new target and thereby makes himself a target once again.

 

While it does help to work with social skills and it does help for your son to learn the most effective ways of dealing with the bullying when it happens. It is not his fault and the teacher was wrong to suggest it was.


Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
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Old 01-02-2012, 10:47 AM
 
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Okay. Maybe things are going to be worse. I spoke with his teacher this am. I outlined everything about the kid calling him gay, the prayers and how my son faked a neck injury and a belly ache this morning to avoid school. She said she was shocked that this other little boy called him gay. She moved all of the kids' seat and Ds now sits with his best friend and two other really nice little boys. Fine. And then she just said, "you know, it doesn't excuse anything or make any of this right, but he kinda brings it on himself." I have never felt that much rage. I wasn't able to say much after that except, "No. No. I won't have that. There is no excuse. I can be really easygoing in dealing with this, but I can also be not-so easygoing. Ok?" She then backpedaled a little bit and I said I want my son to speak with the counselor and that I'll be in touch with the counselor and the principal. We agreed on a plpan for me to email her each day and let her know of any incidents. But I'm so f*cking pissed. There is NO excuse in the world for saying that my son brings it on himself. By that logic, I guess I can tell my son to go into class and curse out and punch all of his bullies. After all, they bring it on themselves.

 

I've stayed out of this because it's really an emotional topic for me. My brother was pretty much tortured by his peers all through school. My DS started getting bulled in 3rd grade. It's a very long story but we were able to put a stop to the physical stuff immediately but the verbal stuff continued through 4th grade. We were able to separate him from the bullies in 5th and he had a decent year outside some recess garbage. We didn't have the option of separating them in 6th grade. We tried to make it work but it didn't and we just pulled DS out of the academic program he loves in November because no matter how much the staff pours into this, they just can't control this group of boys... they can't and it's not for lack of caring or trying. 

 

I know you aren't ready to hear this but I'm going to say it because it's something I had to consider and deal with too.... while it's not excusable that these kids are bullying your child, it IS good to reflect on WHY your child has been targeted. As hard as it is, you need to know what the teacher sees... even if it seems unfair and makes you angry. You need the whole story or this maybe an issue that follows your child all their life. In our own case, we KNOW our DS is reactionary. Everything he feels is in his face and voice. He needed help learning how to temper this around difficult personalities. He has an over-zealous sense of justice which means when he was younger, he called out his peers on everything they did wrong.... great when you find a kid doing something dangerous, not so great when they put their school pencil in their backpack by accident. He needed help learning when something was "dire" and when to let it go. DS tried to handle too much on his own too young. He'd see a kid getting picked on and he'd immediately intervene. Again, great, noble, exactly the kind of man I want him to be... however, he is an outnumbered child, not an authority figure and he should have been going to staff with this first, not calling out those kids then and there. It's the difference between jumping in to save a drowning person and thus being drown yourself and knowing to throw out the life preserver and pull them out with everyone staying safe. Certainly, DS didn't deserve to be bullied and those that did it are the worst sort of kids in the world but we had no control over the actions of those kids. Understanding what made DS a target stopped this issue from spreading beyond the initial group of bullies. Outside this group, DS is a popular kid routinely put in leadership position by his peers. When he DOES come across a new idiot, he is better equipped to handle them than he was in 3rd grade.

 

I highly recommend martial arts. DS is 11 and a black belt now. Body confidence and knowing you can protect yourself if need be is a fantastic bully deterrent. Plus, if gave DS someone outside the family to talk to about it. His instructor was fantastic at helping him deal with this stuff.

 

Oh, and the "gay" dig is very common and really has nothing to do with whether they think your child is gay or not. It's just a term that still has a negative attachment and unfortunately, probably one they still hear at home in that manner.

 

Again, in no way am I saying your child deserves it or letting the bullies of the hook. I fully understand you may not be ready to deal with this part of it... certainly, I wasn't in the beginning but identifying possible targets, giving your child the tools to navigate bullies in areas you KNOW will be an issue is absolutely invaluable. After awhile, you stop caring about who seems to "win" in this situation and just want your kid to be safe and happy.

 


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:02 PM
 
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I'd agree with the pp.  I, as I mentioned earlier, was bullied terribly particularly in junior high.  Looking back, I'm sure that some of it was due to my dressing differently, speaking somewhat differently, being very sensitive, and having moved from a different state where fashions, etc. were younger.  Moving when we went to high school helped quite a bit b/c it gave me a fresh start but I understand why you want to work it out in the current classroom and you make valid points about that.

 

However, I do think that there is value in knowing what is making a child a target.  It doesn't mean that it is okay for the other kids to be cruel, but it helps you figure out where you can help him with so he stands out less.  It can be very subtle.  I had a dear friend whose child was in that position.  She was just more formal in speech and dress and often had other kids making cruel assumptions about her as a result or telling her that she dressed funny.  I tried to point out the "why"s b/c I didn't want to see her going through what I did and my friend didn't want to hear it b/c she loves her child dearly and felt that it was being told that there was something wrong with her.  She totally cut me out and stopped speaking to me.  Her child has never made it through a year of school without being pulled out midway to homeschool or change schools.

 

I try to balance teaching my kids to fit in enough such that they aren't bullied and letting them be themselves and not trim themselves to the point that they aren't being true to themselves.  It is a hard thing to do, though.

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Old 01-02-2012, 12:02 PM
 
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I understand why her saying that your son "brings it on himself" was upsetting to you. This, unfortunately, is a very common attitude about bullying. I even got that reaction on this site in another thread when I suggested that understanding why a bully acts like they do helps my son because it allows him to understand that it's not his fault. 


That was an interesting discussion. Might make good reading for you, OP.

 

In addition to all the good advice above - I would ask the school for their policy on bullying and ask them how they handle bullying / the resources they have to deal with it.   It may be enlightening.

 

 

 

 

 

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Old 01-02-2012, 01:58 PM
 
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PPs have all said very helpful things, but one this I would like to add is that his teacher [unless she is evil, which it doesn't sound like is the case here] wants the best for your son, too. I feel like maybe this could be a case of poor word choice. I know you are a strong mama and you shouldn't have to bear all the weight on changing this situation, but the only way to bring actual change is to work WITH the teacher. Forcing yourself to direct these conversations to a more productive manner [versus immediate emotional response] is difficult, but I feel is is the best chance you have o bring on a better learning environment for all involved. 

 

And by steering the conversation I mean, ask things like, "How can we work together to redirect my son's perception of school into a more positive one?" "How do you feel my son can attract negative attention less often, and how do you suggest I work on him with that at home?" 

 

Also, you might want to read [and recommend to the teacher] a book called Roots of Empathy, which talks about the natural temperament of people [babies, children, adults] and how to be respectful of individuals as they are, with their natural temperament in mind.

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Old 01-02-2012, 03:11 PM
 
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I'm a teacher, and while I wouldn't ever use the phrase 'they bring it on themselves', I do see the other side of the story. I had a little girl transfer in grade 2 who had been bullied in her old school. She was never actually bullied in my class but she was considered odd by the other kids. I kept a close eye on the situation and luckily the kids in the class were all really sweet with no 'queen bees'. The mother was understandably anxious and was always reporting back to me every slight her daughter received. The thing was, the girl was very reactionary. For instance, if a child tagged her in a game she would complain about being hit. She was constantly tattling. She did things like pick food up off the ground and eat it. So it was important to work with her because I could see that as they all got older these behaviours could make her a target. 

 

Now I'm not saying that this is the case with your son but obviously, if the teachers saying 'he brings it on himself' she is observing something and it would be good to know what that is. I know her choice of wording was poor, but please give her another chance. It is very hard to be a teacher dealing with parents over these kind of sensitive issues and sometimes we do say the wrong thing. It sounds like her heart is in the right place. 

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Old 01-02-2012, 03:50 PM
 
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OK, if I were the Mom in this situation I would want a meeting that included me, the teacher, the principal, and the counselor, as soon as possible.  At the meeting I would say to the teacher "You said my son brought this on himself -- what exactly did you mean?  What behaviors do you see in him that result in the bullying?" 

 

Listen carefully to her response.  Maybe your son really does have very unusual behavior that sets him apart from the other kids, and it might help to coach him a little on fitting in and getting along.  On the other hand, maybe your son is just an unusual type of kid, and asking him to fit in is asking him to deny who he is.  These are tricky issues with no obvious right answer.  Some answers are obviously wrong, though -- and if the teacher gives an obviously wrong answer, you've learned something important about the assumptions she takes with her into the classroom, and how likely it is that this problem is fixable. 

 

On the issue of changing schools or classrooms, of course that has to be done very carefully, and the choice of the next environment is very important.  The mere fact that it's different might not be enough to improve the situation.  Ideally, you're looking for a supportive environment that feels comfortable for your DS.

 

You say your son "faked" a tummy ache -- belly aches are a well known symptom of anxiety in young children.  It my be psychosomatic, but it's no less real to your son.  He's probably not deliberately faking at all -- his belly really hurts.  My younger daughter started getting belly aches toward the end of a very difficult first grade year.  We changed schools, and she's much happier in second grade.  She hasn't had a belly ache yet.

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Old 01-02-2012, 04:59 PM
 
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I think  the teachers use of words was no doubt fine in her head, but came out bad.

 

My dd  is in kindy this year and yes, there are kids who even though they are wonderful bright children, they are good targets for others to bully. Why? Just the nature of the beast. I think the teacher knows this as I do, but it came out bad in her situation. Both of my kids have been targets of the class bullies. Both had just small incidents. One, we have always dealt with it head on and two, both situations, these kids bully everyone and its no ones fault but the bully. The one in the older grade is a short twerp who picks on everyone. We nipped that in the bud by having her go right back at him, in his face and say, she will not put up with him doing that. She also told his mother who works at the school. Boy that mom was embarrased! Mainly because she over heard two kids say to my dd after- I am glad you told her what a brat her son is!! I guess it came out he goes after anyone and everyone. He is the youngest of a bunch of boys and no doubt gets it at home and is just doing what he learned. She hasnt had issues since with that boy. We also told the teacher what happened and how he was calling her names etc. If it went further, I would no doubt talk to the prinicple, but sometimes its just easier to handle it quickly and get the point across rather quickly.  

 

DD2, in kindy said a boy called her Maggot the other day- her name is Maggie. She came home and said it and we talked about how to handlle. The next few days later, he did it again. She went right up to him, said in his face- MY NAME IS MAGGIEEEEE NOT MAGGOT! He burst into tears and she said dont call me that again. She walked away. Yep he cried, but he started it according to my dd.

 

My girls also know how to physically defend themselves. We have practiced on DH and explained when and why you would defend yourself in this matter. I have 2 girls who get a lot of attention because of their looks, and personalities. Both are girlie girls, one very sweet and nice and a great target so they need to know how to defend because they already attract attention of others and it will only continue.

 

So yes, according to my dd who is 9, everyone is a good target, but how you handle it or teach your child how to handle it matters. OF course there are issues if the child has social issues or quirks in  their personality such as pp said- follow rules to exact or tells on etc.

 

DD1 has a friend, a boy who as my dh says- will get his butt kicked in his future. Why? He tells on anything and everything. Even if its not his business. Sometimes, he is also doing the bad thing and then throws everyone else under the bus and tells, maybe because it didnt end up the way he wanted or whatever. He will hopefully figure out what are gray areas as he gets older because at this time, he is a great target for some of the bullies in his grade.


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Old 01-03-2012, 08:40 AM
 
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The thing was, the girl was very reactionary. For instance, if a child tagged her in a game she would complain about being hit. She was constantly tattling. She did things like pick food up off the ground and eat it. So it was important to work with her because I could see that as they all got older these behaviours could make her a target. 

 

 

I am in this situation with ds. Last year it was a lot worse (and worse still in K) because he was very reactive so several of the boys like to provoke him, he was very sensitive to perceived slights, he policed the behavior of others... We were clear that we were doing what we could for ds, but with the ADHD/Asperger's it was slow going--we know ds needs coaching with his social skills; he is in speech therapy for that, has a social skills CD-ROM that he works on at home, and I'm planning on a social skills group this summer. His teacher last year really understood him, how he and his classmates "played" off each other, and the bullying behavior was always addressed no matter who it came from--he has a great teacher this year as well.

 

I think that if the teacher is otherwise giving off a "good vibe," perhaps it was just a case of foot-in-mouth plus inexperience/lack of skills in dealing with this type of situation. One thing I would like to see change about how she handles the situation is to stop saying things like "you don't have to be friends after school" to "this is how people always deserve to be treated."


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Old 01-03-2012, 01:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Emmeline II View Post

 

I am in this situation with ds. Last year it was a lot worse (and worse still in K) because he was very reactive so several of the boys like to provoke him, he was very sensitive to perceived slights, he policed the behavior of others... We were clear that we were doing what we could for ds, but with the ADHD/Asperger's it was slow going--we know ds needs coaching with his social skills; he is in speech therapy for that, has a social skills CD-ROM that he works on at home, and I'm planning on a social skills group this summer. His teacher last year really understood him, how he and his classmates "played" off each other, and the bullying behavior was always addressed no matter who it came from--he has a great teacher this year as well.

 

I think that if the teacher is otherwise giving off a "good vibe," perhaps it was just a case of foot-in-mouth plus inexperience/lack of skills in dealing with this type of situation. One thing I would like to see change about how she handles the situation is to stop saying things like "you don't have to be friends after school" to "this is how people always deserve to be treated."


This is what I am talking about- if the child being bullied is on the spectrum, that is a whole different thing. If the teacher dosent understand that, its worse. But also, I agree the teacher saying things like after you leave, you can bully but not in my room is washing her hands of it. And yes, she wins the chocolate socks award since she felt the need to stick her foot in her mouth like she did.
 

 


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