Bullies. Suck.

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Emotions, Life Lessons, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 25-04-2012

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Bullies. Suck.

My Kindergarter. Eager. Excited. A little nervous. But ready.

Ready to take on the alphabet. Count by 2s. Learn how pumpkin seeds grow. Watch chicks hatch. Eat apple sauce at snack time.

But not ready to take on a bully. Little did he know that a bully was lurking. Ready to make his Kindergarten life miserable.

I asked my son if I could share his story. He said it was OK because it might help other parents and children.

Charlie

Not long into Fall, a freckle-faced, fellow Kindergartener started teasing him. Bugging him. Saying mean and hateful things. The bully would twist his arm when they lined up, so hard that it left bruises. Sometimes bloody fingernail marks.

The bully knew how to push buttons and hurt feelings. He made fun of the way my son talked. And imitated him to the point that my son stopped talking at recess, for fear of being ridiculed.

My son had a little delay in pronouncing a few sounds. Typical for a child of his age. “W” for the letter “L.” “Train” would be pronounced “twain.” “Rs” were hard to pronounce. “Car” would be pronounced “cah.” He qualified for speech class with a speech pathologist once a week to help clear things up. (Fast forward one year later, my son “graduated” from speech…no more baby talk!)

It wasn’t only my son who was affected. The bully poked another student in the face with a pencil. Her parents didn’t speak out. I also found out the bully bruised another child’s wrist. The parents remained quiet.

You may think, “Boys will be boys.” But is it OK for your son:

  • to come home from school with his wrist bruised?
  • to cry before school, saying he didn’t want to go ever again?
  • to be scared to line up after recess, always looking over his shoulder?

Enter Mama Bear.

Deep down, I envisioned me transforming into Peyton from The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, who goes up to a bully in a playground, twists his arm, and snarls, “Leave Emma alone. If you don’t I’m gonna rip your f—–g head off.” But I thought turning into a bully would be going against my mission.

Every day, I would talk to my son at length. Prod him with questions. What did you do at recess? Who did you play with? What happened? Did you find a teacher on duty to talk to? Who did you sit by on the bus? How did lunch go? I needed to find out what was happening. How he was feeling. What were his responses to the bully.

I knew that as a parent and mother, I needed to take action. I started by giving him words to say. To empower himself with the bully. Simple words such as “Leave me alone.” We practiced. Practiced saying it loud and strong.

That wasn’t enough.

I talked with the teacher…

I talked with the guidance counselor…

I talked with the principal…and wrote her a letter detailing the incidents and demanded that it become part of the bully’s permanent school record.

Actions were finally taken. The bullying stopped.

Several months later, Kindergarten became more like Kindergarten. My son was ready to go to school in the morning. To cut paper snowflakes. To learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and Eric Carle and Sacagawea. To see the chicks hatch in the Spring. To learn how to say “thank you” in Spanish.

Communication and persistence were key.

Our children need us for support. Our children need us for direction. Our children need us to empower them. And sometimes, our children need us to take action and be their voice.

Because sometimes, little voices are hard to hear.

 

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Comments (40)

Bullies do suck, especially racist bullies.

Agreed.

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Pippi

Well told. With you on his side he can act from his own sense of confidence. You both won that one!

There’s a lump in my throat & a pain in my heart. I’m so glad things are better now.
What a brave little boy – and how sweet & considerate to let you share, thinking of helping others! Big kisses to him!
I can’t believe bullying starts so young. Hard stuff, this mothering. Thanks for sharing.

That just breaks my heart! thank your son for being brave & sharing his story.

I know, it was a tough year, when Kindergarten is supposed to be so much fun. But it prompted us to get him into speech class, which has really helped.

Thank you for your kind words,
Pippi

Aw, thank you for your sweet words. I, too, am glad things are better. I feel better prepared to take on these kinds of challenges in the future. But knock on wood, that this was the beginning and the end.

Yeah, hard stuff, this mothering. I thought it was the baby stuff that was so hard. But this is harder!

XO,
Pippi

Thank you so much for your supportive words and thoughts!

XO,
Pippi

As the mother of a preschooler (kindergartener this Fall), this especially hits home. Good for you for helping your son find his voice. You helped him empower himself and gain his confidence back! Way to go, mama 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to comment. And such nice words! Yeah, we need to help empower our children whenever we can.

It’s a big job, but we can do it.

Thank you,
Pippi

Boys will be boys is such bull shit. I’m glad you got involved. Your son is brave for letting this story be shared.

Thank you thrice over.

I appreciate it,
Pippi

Thanks for sharing and thank him for letting you share his story!

Thank you for reading and for your nice comments,
Pippi

Well way to go mama bear! I love to hear proactive stories like these about moms who empower themselves and their cubs. Inspiring. BTW, your son is so adorable I can’t imagine anyone bullying him – how awful for him and for you. I wonder what the h. the teachers were doing not being on top of that?!

Thanks. I would have kicked myself if I had not stepped up. I think teachers are too busy to notice these things and it’s our job as parents to help find out what’s wrong and make it right.

Thanks for writing,
Pippi

He’s adorable!

“Little voices are hard to hear.” Well said! Great job being proactive. I’m so happy to hear his year started looking up.

Thank you so much on everything you said.

Take care,
Pippi

Oh, poor boy. But I’m glad he has such a wonderful mum who looks out for him. Though boys will be boys, there is a fine line of what’s right and wrong. Great job, Pippi!

This worries me so much because my 4 year old has a pretty significant speech issue. I worry about him getting teased when he goes to school if it hasn’t been resolved by then. Good for you for standing up and standing firm. As parents, that is our job! Nicely done.

Thank you for your nice words.

He’s doing fine in first grade now.

Thanks for writing,
Pippi

Thanks for writing. You may be able to seek speech therapy help through your school district, even in preschool. My son had speech therapy in Kindergarten and it really helped. You can also hire someone. It’s well worth it, I think. After a year of speech, my son has now “graduated.” Feel free to email me at peskypippi@gmail.com if you want to talk more.

Thanks,
Pippi

Finding out your child is being bullied is never fun. I know what that initial reaction feels like, especially when you want to find the kid and deal with them yourself. So glad that things worked out for you and your son.

Thank you. Yeah, I had to contain my initial reactions (ha!) and take it on step by step the “right” way.

Thanks for writing,
Pippi

There is no cause that I champion quite as heavily as the cause against bullying. Bullying makes me so angry; I wish it could be completely eradicated, never to hurt another child. But that’s probably unrealistic. You approached this whole issue in a very realistic and productive way. Your son is lucky to have you.

Great post!

I am with you on that! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It was a learning experience for me too.

Thanks again,
Pippi

My husband was bullied in junior high and his greatest fear is having the same thing happen to our son. He is in preschool and I thought maybe we were silly thinking it could happen there. But if it can happen in kindergarten…

I love the way you handled it. Empowering our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

I’m glad your son is having a great time at school now 🙂

Thank you for writing. I hope you never have to deal with this, but you’ll be one tough Mama too and take action!

Thanks for your nice words,
Pippi

I had similar talks with my son when I noticed a friend he’d known since preschool was steamrolling him, not to the extent your boy endured. He would withhold friendship, telling him they weren’t friends just after spending time with him at recess. He liked to boss him around and make fun of things my son liked. My son tends to be a follower, a pleaser. So, I did the same things you did. Told him what to say and to speak up. We talked about being firm and standing up for yourself – that you can think for yourself.
I think it is just so awesome that you stood by your boy and covered all the bases. We, as parents, are their greatest advocates. He is so lucky you’re there for him, always on his side.
What a gorgeous boy you have!

It’s so sad how early this nonsense starts. I’m glad your son was able to stand up for himself. Sounds like he has a great mama to help him!

Such a great post. I’ve pictured myself like that horrible woman as well. (In many situations, actually.) But you did all the best things.

I’ve practiced phrases with my son, too. “Stop!” is the one he uses on the playground. Luckily, we haven’t run into a repetitive situation yet.

I think that sometimes it is not boys, but “kids will be kids.” Your situation, however, was not – that was a clear situation in which a child was abusive repetitively and aggressively. I hope he is receiving help in overcoming his aggression so it doesn’t manifest when he has more physical power.

Thank you for this post. So well written and so important.

Thank you for your lovely words. “Stop” is a good word to teach and use. Sounds like you are on top of things.

I’m glad you took the time to read it and comment.

So nice hearing from you,
Pippi

Nonsense is right! Thank you for your nice words,
Pippi

What thoughtful comments. I thank you for them. My son is also a pleaser and he didn’t have the words or actions to respond. You’re right that we, as parents, are our children’s greatest advocates. And when we are not there at school, we need to arm them with words and actions so they can feel empowered.

Oh and thanks for the compliment. He takes after his Mom. Wink. 🙂

Best wishes,
Pippi

If I can’t handle it, I’m going to just call you and have you walk me through it 😉 Just gonna put you on my speed dial here…. 😉

Wow, I had no idea bullying started so young. It is disturbing, especially as we are talking about sending the Little Dude to pre-school next year.

I give you a lot of credit for grabbing the bull by the horns and handling the situation when the school didn’t. Your son has an excellent role model.

I hope you never do. But I’ll email you my number…and hoping when I get the call, it will be for drinks and nachos!

XO,
Pippi

In a situation like your son’s, I’m so glad he had you there to advocate for him. I do hope, however, that at this young age, the reason for this bully’s negative behavior and actions was pinpointed. There is no excuse for those horrible actions, but at 6 what was his motivation to hurt his classmates? How did he learn to do what he did and more importantly why did he do it?

Thank you for writing. It was very unexpected and I, too, was surprised at how young. But communication with your child is key and your parenting senses will likely pick up something that seems off.

If anything, it was a great learning experience and life lesson for both of us.

Best of luck!
Pippi

The bully was labeled as having “anger management” issues and simply could not seem to control himself physically and verbally.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments,
Pippi

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