I saw through a Facebook post this week that a bully is going around the third-grade hallways at my daughter’s school. This bully is calling another child ugly. According to the post, this occurs daily. While no specifics were given, I am concerned. While I know it is not our daughter bullying or being bullied, it is still a matter that needs to be addressed.
So how do we handle a mean child at our kid’s school? Of course, as a parent, we want it dealt with swiftly. We want the school to take all necessary measures to ensure the child is reprimanded and the parents of that child spoken to. In all honesty, what we would like to do is confront the child ourselves, but we both know that would cause more problems than it would solve. So, what can we do?
Talk to your child
The very first thing we need to do is talk to our children. Ask them questions so we can see what they see. Getting their perspective on the issue can perhaps clarify what someone heard someone say. Stories often escalate as they are passed from one person to another. A simple word can morph into a throw-down-drag-out fight where someone is sent to the hospital unconscious. It gets convoluted, so getting the story from someone who was there is your best bet.
Ask your child if they know anything about the bullying going on. Ask them if they know who is bullying or who is being bullied. Ask them if the bully has said or done anything to them. Remember this is a serious but sensitive issue. They may be afraid to talk at first, especially if it is directly affecting them. So, ask, but don’t prod.
Also, if your child approaches you about it on their own, never discount what they are saying. Chances are they are trying to help someone or themselves. If we ignore their concerns or tell them things like, “toughen up” or “don’t worry about it,” then we are telling them their concerns are not that important to us. Then, next time, they will be less likely to approach you about the trouble they are having. Listen to your child, even if their concern seems ridiculous to you. If it was important enough for them to say something, its important enough for us to listen.
Talk to your child’s teacher
Do not assume that if you hear about it that everyone else must know, namely the teacher. It is always best to speak to your child’s teacher, even with a minor issue. It could very well be that you are the tenth person to tell her. That is okay; it shows the teacher there is, in fact, a problem that needs to be addressed. If you are the first, it puts the teacher on notice that there could be something going on that needs looked at. Again, if your child has said something to you, then it was serious enough to them.
Teachers have a hard job. They have to deal with 20 or so students. Between teaching, testing, grading, and studying they have 20 different personalities to deal with. Each one has a different level of tolerance. One can say the word ‘booger,’ and the other is offended, yet another can be called names to their face, and it rolls off like water off a duck. So, it is no surprise that teachers cannot take every issue to the principal or send a letter home every night on something that was said or done. They have to pick their battles. So, parental input on something that is going on in their classroom helps them to weigh what is silly and what is serious.
Talk to other parents
Just as each child has a different personality, each child has parents with their own personalities. Some parents are passive. They will deal with the issue within their home. Others are protective; they will be on the front steps of the school with a bullhorn in protest to the bully. While these are extremes, they are out there. What works best is seeing if other parents are having the same issues you are facing with your child. This is where parent groups come in.
One parent in our daughter’s grade created a Facebook page for that grade. So, if there are questions or concerns, any parent can inquire of the group. This usually surrounds spelling words and upcoming tests, but recently it was about the bully who was calling a child a name. With this post, every parent gets to be involved. They get the opportunity to not only speak to each other but to take that information and talk to their children about it.
Teaching our children about bullying is crucial. Helping them to be aware of what to look for can mean the difference between someone getting help or a situation being overlooked. We also need to train our kids on what is appropriate behavior. It is not okay to call names, even if to them it may seem harmless, to the child they are pointing that name to it may be hurtful. Remind your children that not everyone is like them, that each kid at school has different circumstances they deal with; be it learning issues, trouble at home, or other unseen problems. So, don’t point out flaws or single out something that makes someone different.
When we teach our child to be accepting of anyone and everyone, they can help those being affected by bullying. They will also be in less of a position to be a bully. When we show our children their worth and encourage them to be proud of their differences, then they will be able to stand up to a bully and to tell someone when needed. When we listen to our children, then we can help address a situation that can help someone who is being bullied. To help prevent bullying; teach, show, listen. To help when bullying exists; talk to children, teachers, and parents. Together we can be a solution to the problem we face of bullying.
I live in a small town in South Central Texas with my wife Carolyn and our four children. We attend the local First Baptist Church where we have been serving for 8 years. I drive a truck in the transportation industry and I pursue my writing career in my spare time. I have a passion for writing, and I plan to use my voice to glorify God.
In addition to my freelance work, I have a series of Children’s books that will begin to be released starting in June of 2018. I also have written a novel that is currently being edited. I look forward to sharing it sometime in 2019.