Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What to do if you suspect your child is being bullied at school

If you read this blog, then you would know that I strongly felt that my son, Philip was being bullied at his school by this particular boy. I have learned so much about the school system this year and would like to share my experiences as a parent. If any other parents who have dealt with something similar would like to chime in, please do so!

(1) Communicate with the school - I originally failed to do this and it was by far the biggest mistake I have made. As a result, the situation spiralled out of control and what could have potentially been addressed months ago, escalated into something else. The day your child complains, I recommend addressing these concerns with his teacher and if you don't feel confident about how the teacher is going about the situation for whatever the reason, the principal or vice-principal would be the next step. In today's world, many parents like me fear being the dreaded helicopter parent. Don't be. A helicopter parent is someone who hovers over their child and wants to know EVERYTHING about their daily life. A concerned parent calls the school or communicates with the teacher when he/she feels that something is up. If I would have communicated my concerns a lot sooner, perhaps this situation wouldn't have escalated as quickly as it did.

Also, by communicating with the school, they have put me in touch with resources to help Philip! The more help, the better because at the end of the day, I am a mom, not a therapist. I can only do so much.

(2) Again with communicating with the school -  I work. Philip attends the morning and after school program (school daycare) and I addressed my concerns with them. While the other boy does not attend the school daycare, Philip does and they look out for him whenever they can. The school daycare also offered me  tons of support. By communicating my concerns with school officials, I felt better because these people understand these sort of situations a lot better than you think. Not only they have offered words of encouragement but they offered some help. A friendly ear for your child to vent to is a very valuable thing!

(3) Volunteer at the school - Some time ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer my time at the school. I know it is hard to balance work and personal life but sometimes family does come first. I felt like an annoying parent by coming into class and seeing Philip's daily life but I got to see his bully up close and personal. I realized by this kid's behavior he wasn't actually a bully per se but more of a really confused kid. He doesn't tease the other kids but definitely gets into their personal space. It is like he has no social cues or concept of boundaries. I do not know this kid's background and it is none of my business but I felt sorry for him. I originally went in with a negative attitude but as the little boy crept onto my lap and hugged me, I knew he needed a friend and some affection. I also understand Philip's view: The kid is in his personal space and it drives him nuts because he is very introverted. In addition, the child, disrupts class and is constantly doing little things (probably for attention) that irritate Philip. My son does not like "loud people" or people that get into his bubble and this kid gets into everyone's bubble. The little boy desperately wants to be Philip's friend. He even told me so and is confused as to why Philip doesn't want anything to do with him. As means to gain Philip's friendship, he gets more into his personal space and this only pisses him off even more! The other day, Philip told him that he wasn't his friend so the little boy pushed him and well, Philip retaliated!

The school has assured me that Philip and the other boy will not be in the same class next year. Please keep in mind, my little one is 5 and needs is too young to fully understand people yet and is still too young for this to be one of those life lessons on how to deal with clingy people! Also, he lost empathy for the kid because the kid has not respected his personal boundaries either. I understand both sides of the fence but ultimately, I am Philip's mom, I have to be in his corner. I have to admit, Philip has been lashing out at the kid, sometimes for no reason because he is constantly in his face or constantly doing something he shouldn't. I am under the impression that Philip thinks that the teacher is unfair and the kid gets a lot of "passes" which only further fuels his aggression.


I couldn't find a suitable photo or meme to put here but please accept this photo of Philip instead. School logo from his uniform was edited. Sorry, no one needs to know the name of the school my child goes to!

(4) Don't be shy to address your concerns - If you are unhappy with the way a teacher or school officials are handling a situation, communicate with the school and even with other parents. I was shy at first but felt better when I did address some concerns I had. Turns out, my feeling wasn't "just me being over protective" or " thinking that my son was a special snowflake because he is introverted". Looking back, I realize how silly I was because some other parents had the same concerns I did.

(5 & 6) Leave emotions out of it and listen to what the school has to say - You are going to be mad. I knew I was. They really do listen and are very helpful. They were a great source for advice and really did listen to my concerns.

(7) Ask for a copy of the school's anti-bullying policy - you never know how this could help you determine if in fact your child is being bullied or in my case, a separate situation. This may just help you if your child is being bullied and could potentially help you reinforce that policy.


I originally feared that I was going to be labelled a bad mother or helicopter parent but at the end of the day, I looked at the clothing I wore and the tattoos I have and realized, I don't care what people think. I need to do what is best for my son and I did. The situation is far from being over. I mean, how do you tell a lonely 5 year old boy who desperately wants to be friends with another boy to leave him alone? On my end, how do I try to teach empathy to my child where I know there is none left because the other kid makes it really hard for Philip to feel sorry for him? There used to be some empathy but things have changed a lot over the past week  Do I really want to tell Philip that it is ok for the kid to overstep his personal boundaries after he constantly hears us talk about how we cut ties with people for doing the same thing? He needs to know that as his mom, I respect his needs and boundaries BUT he needs to learn to deal with the needy extroverts of the world in a more civil manner. The school feels that he is very young (he is one of the youngest kindergartners there) and reassured me he will grow out of this by next year. I hope he does. I don't like the fact that he takes matters into his own hands and lets his anger get the best of him.

In closing, I would like to thank my friend James for listening to my concerns, as well as for all the advice and reassurance he has given me. I also found this website very useful: http://www.stompoutbullying.org/

8 comments:

  1. It is good the school actually does something. So many schools just want to push problems under the rug.

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    1. That is true. I think in my case, they have no choice LOL

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  2. Well! That was heavy, what a journey you took. One thing comes out straight away is what a fantastic, open-minded, understanding parent and person you are. I really don`t know how I would react? Getting back to the main point I hope Philp has a better time of it next year, without his what if it was an adult would be called a stalker. On the other hand the other boy does remind me of a kid that was at my first school, always wanted his way without regard for others feelings worst of all was that HE always seemed to be “Teachers Pet” except once, when he `got` his comeuppance !

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    1. Yeah it is still an ongoing issue and you're right, In the adult world, that kid would be considered a stalker. I am glad to hear he got his comeuppance! What happened?

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    2. From what I can remember, it was about 50 years ago. Is that he didn`t want to do something a teacher had asked and nipped the teacher, who smacked his legs (This was OK in them days) and sent/took him to the Headmaster where he had to sit outside his office for the rest of the afternoon.

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  3. I think your ideas are great and VERY sound.

    Since you think the boy may not actually be a bully, perhaps you could sit down with him and Philip together and have them talk to each other about it, with you as mediator? Of course you'd want to talk to Philip first and make sure he would be okay with it and not feel like you had tricked him into anything, but it MIGHT open doors for communication, even between 5-year-olds. (This may sound silly to you, but I've done this with cats that were not getting along, and it's worked every time except once!) Just because they won't be in the same class next year doesn't mean their paths will never cross again. If everyone is using the same language, it might be possible for them to learn to get along with each other, even if they're never close buddies. Good luck, whatever you decide to do!

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    1. I tried that a couple of months ago. The boy claims he never did anything wrong and well, Philip is still pissed because the kid broke this thing on his bag on purpose. I think we are past the point of reconciliation. In a way, I don't blame Philip. Thanks for the tip :)

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  4. Such clear and useful advice. You can be proud of yourself for the work you have done for your son. One more thing is to talk to the parents og the other child in an open and non-accuising way. Some parents refuse to listen, but others might open up and offer advice as to how to solve the problem. A friend who works with troubled youth says the number one thing to prevent bullying, is if the parents know each other and talk together.

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