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1girl1boy 10-03-2013 10:55 PM

My 5 year old son has just started kindergarten. To sum him up he is extremely kind. He is more compassionate than most adults I know and has always shared extremely well, so well that it was odd how well he'd give up his own toys to other kids at the tender age of 18 months. He is very docile, very kind, and very introverted. He plays alone at recess (and loves it) but he really has no friends. The kids know him and say hi to him but he really is just sort of a loner.


Anyway there are two kids in his class and today he just unloaded on me all the mean things these kids say to him. They are as follows:


At first J (my son) told me he felt sad because Trinity told him, "boys don't wear nail polish." Side note: I painted his fingernails at his request; they were white and he pretended they were his claws, I'm not the kind of mom to say "boys don't wear nail polish." I really didn't think much of that comment because kids will be kids. Then later J said trinity also told him he was, "yucky" and another time she said he was, "stinky" and yet another time she said to her friend James, "I'm going to be Snow White for hallowing and he (referring to Jamison) is going to be the Wicked Witch." And another time James said, "I hate you" to my son.


Is this normal kindergarten behavior? I have no idea what is normal and acceptable. Does this fall into a normal or acceptable category? I'm a stay at home mom and I've just never seen kids act so rude but then again I've also never thrown 20 of them in a room together (: The fact is J still wants to go to school and his happy every day when I drop him off and pick him up but I know it was hurting his feelings because he said it was and I could see it in his face when he was telling me about it. Should I say something to the teacher? I've already emailed her a bunch, please don't feed my kid gelatin, any tips for getting my son interested in letting me teach him his numbers, my son peed his pants because he's too scared to use the bathroom, why haven't I been called to volunteer in your class... That's a lot of emails in two months.


Anyway, my heart his broken. For now I have just told J to avoid these two kids and to tell the teacher if they keep it up.



Red Pajama 10-04-2013 05:00 AM

It is completely possible that a kindergartner can be a bully. 


Yes, you absolutely need to bring it to the teacher's attention. It can be difficult as a teacher to get a class to be inclusive and work together, but that's part of classroom environment that she does have some control over. But she has to be told, so she knows to intervene before it becomes entrenched behaviors in the aggressors. If you don't get satisfactory results from the teacher, you talk to the principal. 

Plan a conference outside of regular parent-teacher conference times, as soon as possible. Go in calmly, with your information, and ask for her help resolving the situation. 

One_Girl 10-04-2013 07:22 AM

That sounds like normal behavior and not necessarily bullying but I would bring it up with the teacher because behavior like that needs to be redirected. I also suggest teaching him to firmly tell them they are being rude, short direct statements said in a firm tone work well.

quirkylayne 10-04-2013 08:58 AM

The only statement that would worry me is "I hate you". I would go ahead and speak with the teacher. She may already be aware and monitoring the problem. If you don't already know how this type of issue is dealt with at the school then its time to find out.

I'm not sure if you exact words to the teacher are what you wrote here but I promise your teacher wants to help your family and be on your side. I would go about it from that view in the future. Instead of 'why haven't I been called' I might say, I'm eager to help in the classroom, please let me know when you would like me to come in. I speak with my children's teachers mutiple times a week and I'm up at the school multiple times a week for lunch and other school related projects.

Letitia 10-14-2013 08:54 PM

My daughter's first preschool teacher told us she always refused to teach older than the 2-3's because older than that they started being mean to each other.  Kids in kindergarten are definitely old enough to be purposefully mean.  I don't know where it crosses the line to "bullying."  I think that word has been used so much recently everyone assumes everyone else knows what it means, but I'm not sure that we do.  Like that definition of pornography of knowing it when you see it - it just doesn't fly in practicality.  


Whether you want to call it bullying or not, it's mean.  If my kid were Trinity or James, I'd want to know what he/she was saying so I could address it at home.  If the teacher wanted to address it in a sensitive, teaching way, I'd be all for that too.  I'm sure not all parents would feel the same, and if my kid were in your child's position I'd be scared contacting any mom.  But I would talk to the teacher.  


Sometimes I think it's easier to come off as whiny or pestering via email than in person.  When we've had serious concerns, we've used email to set up times when we could talk briefly with the teacher.


I've got two mild-mannered, shy kids and I wish I could send my "put 'em up" school-age self with them to protect them.  I hate to say this, but I truly wish they were the kind of kids who would just sock someone who was that rude to or hurt them.     

monamcmona 10-15-2013 01:26 PM

I would most definitely have a talk with the teacher. If she doesn't know what is going on..she can't help find a solution. And like Letitia, if it were my child that was the aggressor..I would want to know about it.

researchparent 10-15-2013 06:47 PM

My son is not even 4 years old in preschool and was having a similar problem. Basically he would come home from school each day saying that no one wanted to be his friend, and no one liked him, and that when he sat down for storytime people would scoot away from him. It broke my heart. Anyway, his teacher and I have had minor issues in the past, but I wasn't going to let this go without saying anything. I tried calling her and she wasn't answering her phone. She almost never responds to emails. What I decided to do was write her a handwritten letter and hand deliver it to her. Here's an excerpt:


"I’ve seen the way my son interacts with other kids on play dates and at gymnastics, so I know he can be antagonizing, and maybe he deserves some of the exclusion if there is any, but no mother likes to hear her little boy is being left out. The main reason my husband and I decided to send him to preschool was so that he could learn how to interact with other kids and enjoy playing with people his own age. I know it’s probably best to let him work this out on his own, but I was wondering if you had made any observations or had any advice that might be helpful to him or me."


I was shocked by how positive her reaction. After school that day she took me aside and said my son was not doing anything wrong and she realized there was a problem and they were working on it. She had been talking to the kids and reading stories about friendship like "Best Friends for Frances" to try and make them understand that the way they treated others could hurt people's feelings. After the event, there was another incident where kids excluded him during recess by saying "This is a game for 2 girls and 1 boy so you can't play with us." After that the teacher talked to the other kids' parents, and the parents had the kids draw my son pictures and wrote things like "Sorry for not being a good friend" on them. I think getting the parents involved really helped. It's been about 3 weeks now and he hasn't said anything negative about school and comes home talking about all the friends he plays with.


So basically I think you should not be afraid to speak up. 

sideshowmama 10-15-2013 06:54 PM

I definitely think this is extremely inappropriate behaviour. Kids should feel safe at school. I would speak with the teacher asap. Makes me so sad to think of this! Good luck.

Linda on the move 10-16-2013 09:27 AM

Originally Posted by quirkylayne View Post

The only statement that would worry me is "I hate you". I would go ahead and speak with the teacher. She may already be aware and monitoring the problem. If you don't already know how this type of issue is dealt with at the school then its time to find out.

I'm not sure if you exact words to the teacher are what you wrote here but I promise your teacher wants to help your family and be on your side. I would go about it from that view in the future.


I agree. I prefer to communicate with teachers by email. Let the teacher know what is going on, but in a an open, we-are-a-team-working-together way. I would also ask her for suggestions for kids who might make nice friends for you son and start setting up play dates for him with just one other child from his class. It will give him a chance to build a friendship.


Lots of children need to learn to treat other kindly and what that really means, and I wouldn't use the word 'bully" for the behavior you describe. It is a very loaded word and I would avoid it except in extreme situations.



Originally Posted by 1girl1boy View Post


At first J (my son) told me he felt sad because Trinity told him, "boys don't wear nail polish." Side note: I painted his fingernails at his request; they were white and he pretended they were his claws, I'm not the kind of mom to say "boys don't wear nail polish." I really didn't think much of that comment because kids will be kids.


Another way to handle that situation would be to give him the information that in our society, boys don't usually wear fingernail polish, and that someone might say something about it. Then he can make a choice about whether or not he wants to wear it out of the house. If he decides to wear it, he'll do so prepared to handle any comments (he could have just said, "they are my claws, want to pretend to be an animal with me?" and that most likely would have ended it). Not telling him social norms left him open to get this information from a 5 year old, and they tend to not say things that way we would.


My kids are teens now and I've raised them in a counter cultural way, but there was a lot of information -- especially about social norms -- that I wanted them to get from ME first. I feel it better prepares them for hearing about it from peers and the media. Sometimes my kids have chosen to buck social norms, and sometimes not. But it isn't a real choice if you don't don't know what the norms are.


I also suggest helping your son brain storm how to respond to different situations as they come up. You could play act together.


I do agree with "stay away from the mean people," but there are other tools to develop as well. Helping your son find his voice with peers would be helpful for him.

Water Mama 10-17-2013 11:12 AM

I would definitely speak to his teacher. Unfortunately, I got a call from my son's teacher this week to inform me that my son has been bullying other students. She had received phone calls from several parents stating that my son was intimidating and aggressive to the point these students didn't even want to go to school! I was shocked and heartbroken to hear this news since my son does not show this extreme behavior at home. However, his father and I are separated and he has a half-brother on his dad's side that he is always trying to mimic: "I'm tough, look at me." There is always a reason behind these things, and, I believe, a solution as well. 


I am now addressing the situation at home--restricting privileges, reinforcing routine, and spending more quality time doing homework with him. Also, my mother, his grandmother, is going to start volunteering in his classroom to help him since I work full-time. His teacher and I email each other daily as well. 


The hardest part is knowing that there are parents out there that probably have judged my son and me based on how he has affected their children. I just hope you can realize that every child is different and their insecurities about starting school for the first time, trying to find their voice, and how they relate to others can be challenging. I think is is very important that adult get involved and try to foster appropriate behaviors. I am so glad that the other parents complained. Now I can keep a close eye on him inside and outside the classroom to ensure that he does not gain a reputation and continue this behavior. 


Please speak up--and good luck!

kittywitty 10-17-2013 11:40 AM

IME, it is not uncommon. My oldest was pulled from Kindy partly due to severe bullying.

USAmma 10-17-2013 12:58 PM

My dd encountered a kindergarten bully. It is very possible. BTW this one girl who was the bully is now in 7th grade and a classic Queen Bee. I saw it coming. Although we were unable to change the girl's character, we were able to change her behavior towards my dd. The teacher sat the girl down and told her what was, and was not, acceptable to say to other children. The bullying ended for my dd, but the girl became more sophisticated in her manipulation and control of other children as she got older. 


I totally think you need to take your son and go talk to the teacher, maybe during lunch break or something. Encourage your son to tell the teacher exactly what this other boy said to him in his own words, and make sure he know it's a safe environment and he will not be in trouble for tattling. 

mommy68 10-17-2013 05:36 PM

I don't know that I would call it bullying but I believe that kids that age can pick on other kids. I've had my kids in preschool/day cares at various times over the years and there is always a bad kid or two in the classes. I don't think it's bullying at that age. I think it's more that the children are over stressed from long days and just tired or worn out and that's how certain kids let out their frustrations. It's hard for parents though because no one wants to see their child get picked on. I'd mention it to the teacher maybe if it keeps up.

AskSassy 10-17-2013 09:04 PM

I can't believe it. I recently answered another mom's question that was JUST like this.


Honey, all of us have gone through this ourselves, both as children and as mothers. If there is one amongst us who hasn't, then I hope she counts herself lucky.


This is a GREAT opportunity for you to arm your child with the right words and actions to handle bullies. Teach him that the bullies are wrong, and he is right.

Sarakenobi 10-18-2013 11:37 AM

This happened to my son in kindergarten too!  he wore nailpolish. I prepped him saying if anyone said they didn't like it for him to say "well *I* like it" but a boy was teasing him and another girl stepped up and told him off and solved the problem for him.  


I think it's normal unfortunately and teh best way to cope with it is to help him learn to deal with it  - we have conversations frequently about kindness to others and it seems to help when he does encounter teasing and bullying.  I also encourage him to talk to his teacher about situations - not tattle - but to just talk to her about how he's feeling and if something like that happens.  I also like to emphasize that he is told to verbalize to the other children that he doesn't like whatever they are doing.  

miasandhadleysmom 10-18-2013 11:53 AM

Yes it is very possible. I think children are just starting to figure out power at this age and they are trying out how it feels to be powerful over another child. This is why good preschools are so important (not to mention, hiring and paying preschool teachers who are well educated on child development well). Dialogue about how people should treat each other and how people feel should start early and be a true focus of preschool and kindergarten. This is where the focus of academics in kindergarten is really hurting our children. Studies have shown if little mean behaviors are nipped in the bud early, bullying is less likely later. You need to talk to the teacher and be firm about not tolerating this. It doesn't matter what your son wears, he should be treated respectfully. You will be doing a good service to the boys bullying as well as your son. Hopefully the teacher will address all three boys and the whole class. I am sorry because it is so painful to know your child has dealt with that. You have every right to speak up for your son's emotionally safety.

kareneb 10-18-2013 11:57 AM

Most of the threads on this post have good advice, but "Linda on the move" has GREAT advice.


Your son, even if he is a loner and an introvert, needs to make a good friend or two in his new school. He needs your help to do this. You will need to actively pursue a few boys and girls that he likes and get them together over several different playdates so they can build a relationship outside of school. It will help if you will befriend the parents as well, especially Trinity's parents. She seems to have identified your son as her personal object of interest. You might consider setting up a get together with Trinity, with all parents around, to observe how these two interact.


And yes, talk to your son about how some of his choices might attract attention. I love the idea of sharing his idea of claws with his classmates. That's an awesome way for him to share his fun imagination with new people. It might be hard for a shy boy to do this, but with your encouragement I hope he can get comfortable with a few outgoing moments in his day.

Amy Lansky 10-18-2013 12:01 PM

I went through bullying of both my sons at that age (they are now 22 and 25, by the way).  One solution that worked (sometimes) was to set up a playdate with the bully.  Talk to the mother of the bully and tell her what is happening. Hopefully she will be concerned about her child and supportive. You should both monitor the play date.   This converted bullying in one case into a friendship that has lasted to this day  In another case, the bully remained a bully and, in my view, became a kid with problems.  The mother in that case was  in denial of what her son was doing -- she was part of the problem.  Even into his teens, his mother thought he could do no wrong, even though he clearly wasn't a very nice person. In my experience, teachers are kind of at a loss about what to do.  They usually don't notice the bullying on the playground very much.  Teacher intervention can also make the victim more of a pariah, but perhaps sometimes it is necessary if is getting extreme.  Working with the parents, in my experience, is the best solution if they actually do care about remediating the problem.

loripickert 10-18-2013 12:26 PM

speaking as someone who owned a preschool for many years, it is absolutely possible for bullying to begin at this age (and younger). and i would call this behavior bullying.


i agree with the advice above to talk to the teachers in a “let’s solve this together — i’m open to your suggestions” way. it is easy to get very emotional about your children being bullied, but it doesn’t really help solve the problem. if you can work as a team with the teachers, you have a better chance of a good outcome.


i agree with “Linda on the move” about seeking out a friend for him in the class — and the teachers might be able to suggest a good pairing. but i don’t really agree with Amy about trying to befriend the bully. bullies are often great manipulators and their way of “making friends” is to pressure a child to be a follower and bend to their will; you don’t want that. i would just steer clear of the bully and work on shoring up your child’s confidence. hopefully the bully’s parents and teachers are working with the bully; that’s not your responsibility. your responsibility is your child — and there will be bullies everywhere, in every class and in every club or group and in every neighborhood.


the more authentically confident your child is, the better he will handle situations like this — even if he is a sensitive child. that means helping him develop his interests, have friends both in school and out of school, and being close with his family.


the fact that he’s being affected by this is probably more due to the *newness* of the experience (the shock that other children can be so unkind) rather than any weakness on his part (due to his sensitivity). i disagree completely with adults who say a child needs to “toughen up” to learn to deal with bullies. he can be empathetic and still robust. his empathy and sensitivity can help him identify the kids he needs to stay away from. he needs to know their behavior has nothing to do with him. you can help him work through this.

tpase 10-18-2013 12:42 PM

Oh I feel for you.
Bullying or not, it is targeted mean and hurtful behaviour. I personally believe that it is a missed opportunity to teach both the bully and the bullied child that mean, hurtful, unkind behaviours are unacceptable. Soft approaches that involve sort of accepting this to be a normal part of growing up results in feeding this type of anti-social behaviour thereby becoming a disservice to all the kids involved.
My elder daughter is gentle kind and compassionate, and similarly became the target in pre K. In our case recruiting the teachers to help resolve the situation didn't work. Partly because the teachers were themselves soft in their stance on mean behaviours.We took ip up with the principal, who was far more effective and motivated to set things right. But eventually we pulled her out, and sent her to another school to normalize her experience. She was always a gregarious child but seemed to have lost a bit of her innocence during those cruel months, but two years out today, she is in another school - happy, well-adjusted, and very popular for her gentle and kind ways.
We, personally were unwilling to put our child through an environment where she learned that being unkind was okay, nit being honoured by the grown ups (that would be all of us) was okay, or that everything she learned at home didn't apply in the real world.
Your child's first experience outside the home shd be a positive one, where they feel safe and honoured. You are on target about feeling like you must advocate for your son.
In my opinion, you are very justified in your anguish over this. Don't be shy, and fight this battle for your son.

There are plenty of schools with wonderful children, and I hope that this current situation changes for the better fov J very soon.
Good luck!!!

tromie 10-18-2013 01:21 PM

:( I'm so sorry that your son is going through this.  I agree with many of the posts on here, to talk to the teacher.  If my son was the aggressor, I would want to know as a parent so we could talk and practice appropriate behavior with others.  We have stressed with our son that if he sees this type of behavior to be the one who steps in and stops it - we've practiced phrases to say to the aggressor to make them stop what they are doing to the other child.  Since my son is big into superheros, we talk about how a superhero would handle this situation if someone needs help.  Perhaps this could be something the teacher highlights in class as well - not singling out your child or the bullies, but as a class practicing how to stick up for someone or intervene in a bully situation, or what to do if you are being picked on?


Keep us posted on what happens - best of luck to you and your son and I hope this stops soon.

mystiquesmom 10-18-2013 01:55 PM

DS#1 was being picked on by one kid in Kindergarten (he's 7 now).  I made the mistake of not saying anything to that kindergarten teacher(nice enough person, but she seemed almost scared of parents and I worried about discussing issues with her would be met negatively), hoping it would blow over or that they would be in different classes the next year.  It didn't help that the teacher was on leave for a while to take care of an ailing parent(of course, no fault of her own) and there was different substitutes during that time.  Well, they ended up in the same class the next year and it got so much worse to the point that DS#1 would cry and not want to go to school.  His wonderful grade 1 teacher approched me and I discussed what was going on.  She had no idea this was happening at recess and in class and worked with the both of them.  Now they are the best of friends. 


So absolutely speak with the teacher, s/he may not be aware this is going on.  I've been working on different coping strategies with him as well(tell others to leave him alone with a stronger voice, tae kwon do for confidence, learning to ignore others).  Unfortunately, DS#1 is super senstitive and takes things way too personally, so it makes him an easy target.   :(

crazyms 10-19-2013 06:06 PM

My son has been bullied in his K class also so I know how you feel. In our case the boy got physical with my son and I had to tell him it was ok to defend himself. Apparently this kid is getting in trouble in class for a variety of reasons and is missing a lot of recess also because of the meanness. I'm hoping we're ok now but I'm watching it. I agree let the teacher know and see what you can do about making him friends. My dd is one of those miss fix it under dog defender types and takes it upon herself to befriend anyone being left out around her like the lonely one black boy that got stuck in an all white country school she attended once or the girl at her school now no one liked. Maybe the teacher can helpyou find kids in his class like this or someone he might have something in common with. Having a friend will go a log way in helping defend him from bullies. Good luck.

coralyann 10-20-2013 02:12 PM

replying to your billing issue. That behavior should never be tolerated, no exceptions. The same thing happened to my son. He had a terrible speech problem that kept him from talking in school. He was also a very quiet sweet boy. I scheduled a conference with his teacher ASAP. Those issue need to be brought to her attention because like you said there are many student and she can't possibly be expected to see or hear everything. Write all your concerned on a piece of paper so you don't forget anything. Be patient, pleasant no matter how upset you get. Just let her know that you just want everyone to be on the same page. You all want for him to have a wonderful experience that will benefit his growth. Good luck hope that's helpful.

LilyKay 11-06-2013 08:03 AM

This might not be a popular opinion but why would you tell your son to ignore them? I'd tell him to speak back. There is a lot of good advice here about working with the teacher about it and perhaps the other parents but I also feel it's important to help him find his voice when faced with bullies and not just ignore them. And while now you can talk to the teachers/parents, very soon I think those will not be very cooperative and he's on his own. 

loripickert 11-06-2013 08:57 AM

Originally Posted by LilyKay View Post

This might not be a popular opinion but why would you tell your son to ignore them? I'd tell him to speak back. There is a lot of good advice here about working with the teacher about it and perhaps the other parents but I also feel it's important to help him find his voice when faced with bullies and not just ignore them. And while now you can talk to the teachers/parents, very soon I think those will not be very cooperative and he's on his own. 


agree… here’s support for that opinion:


Don’t ‘just ignore them.’ … Sure, there are times when doing nothing makes sense – for example, if the bully is older or you're in an unsupervised area – but overall, with repeated bullying, ignoring isn't an effective strategy. Bullying is about power, specifically the imbalance of power. If someone can silence you, that's pretty powerful.”


from this article: Bullying: The advice you got was wrong.

Asiago 11-07-2013 12:25 PM

That is a helpful article loripickert, thanks.

loripickert 11-07-2013 04:26 PM

you’re very welcome! :)

Laura Spilde 02-04-2014 11:54 AM

I would do something if you can handle it and if your spouse says so too.

We home-educate and I encourage my children to interact with adults to get more confidence rather than "give in" to the rotten things other kids or people may say. Kids say mean things because they do not know how to act properly and need parental guidance and direct instruction on proper behavior. It isn't easy to teach children how not to bully as it may even be found among home-education kids too!

There are public charter schools, Montessori schools, online-public schools too........These may be better social options. The more the child interacts positively with parents first and then with other adults the better. Then it is easier to deal with the bully.

Boys from my understanding are actually better off in the outdoors and roaming around freely than sitting in a school desk all day. It helps them gain confidence with interaction and working with mother nature.

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