Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Encouraging Children

The Doctor started Kindergarten this year. He likes it, but I'd never go so far to say he loves it. Lately he's been sick, and I'm not stretching the truth when I say we've visited the (medical) doctor five or six times in as many weeks. The Doctor has been sick for this long, missed out on long stretches of school, and in the last three school days, gone to sick bay and I've picked him up by 11:30am, three times.

And before anyone goes gangbusters - the reason I sent him to school is: when he wakes up, he's fine, so I think - great, time for school, and then he goes on that wave of feeling ill again. It's a tricky business deciphering true illness, and the lack of want to go to school.

Last night at dinner the Doctor told us that some kids were laughing at him.

This isn't the first time something's happened that made him feel sad at school. Earlier in the year two year six boys teased him, told him to "get lost" and kicked him. It was quickly nipped in the bud when we raised it with his teacher.

But last night's reluctant conversation about some other Kindy kids laughing. It took me ages to get it out of him, and it's a difficult road to navigate, I don't want to make too much of a big deal about it, but I want to learn the truth so I can help him out of it.

Finally he told me that they laughed at him, called him "Babykins" and so on, and on more than one occasion.

To you and me, this may be nothing much. Maybe a small thing, but remember when you were 5 or 6 and these things stung. And humiliated. I remember being in Kindy and while we were painting our Santa faces, I painted my nails red with the paint. My teacher came over, ripped my Santa up, threw it in the bin and said: "Did I ask you to paint your nails?" - 26 years later I still remember that and can still conjure those awful feelings. I remember going home silently, and my mum asking me what was wrong. I burst into the front door - and promptly burst into tears.

My little man is a sensitive soul. How to bolster that confidence when it comes to these situations? How to empower? How to make him realise - that it's not him - it's them with the problem - whatever that is?

A while ago I won a copy of Ruby Who (by Hailey Bartholomew) from the beautiful Jody at Che & Fidel. As well as being a short film about not wishing for things you don't have, it's also about revelling in who you truly are. It is truly a delightful film that engages the smalls and has a great message.

How do you help your kids assert themselves?

image via I Like To Be Me


Dolores said...

Oh, you're freaking me out. My oldest is starting school next year and I worry about bullying and how he'll handle it. He's also a bit sensitive. I'm not sure what to sugggest, I know how hard it can be to get information out of them but you're doing the right thing by not making a big deal out of it. You want him to feel like he can tell you anything and it won't affect you because they don't want us to see us upset anymore they we don't want to see them upset.


Georgie Love said...

When you find some good tips, can you let us all know? :-(

Poor Doctor. But you are a wonderful mother.

Chantelle {fat mum slim} said...

This saddens my so much. The kids I nannied for went through the same thing, and I still don't know what advice to give.

Just love him. Be patient with him. And never lose hope. xx

Little Pinwheel said...

I noticed something happen to Keely the other afternoon in the playground at school, and the look on her face was heartbreaking. The boy was pulling at her, and being quite mean. He is in her class, so her age. I stood there, and stared at this child. The stare alone was enough to have him stop. I then consoled Keely, but in the same way as you say. I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but to see them like this brings back memories of being teased. I was teased in high school. I agree with Chantelle, never loose hope that this will be over, and he will be ok, and love that little guy like you already do. You are an awesome mum Lexi! I do hope that he is going to be ok, and you are too. xx

m.e (Cathie) said...

really heartbreaking to hear. things like that are a big deal to them & sometimes little things can be a big deal to adults aswell.
when you figure it out please tell us, I have no idea.
give him a big squishy hug from us all ♥

Sarah said...

Oh gosh the poor little man (and parents)... I cannot believe a teacher did that to you in kinder (gulp) awful!

Well I just do my best. I teach them what I believe it good and right. I also walk the walk and talk the talk (you know what I mean?). I tell them when I have done something wrong and am not afraid to apologise.

I also tell them of the good news and what makes me feel good. We celebrate positive things that happened during the day. DInner time is a great time of the day to do this... BUt also just 'hanging out' with them. It is time - I cannot force it out of them. I make it clear I care and I want to help but I cannot do that unless they are clear with me what is happening. SOmetimes it takes them a while to work it out themselves...

jodi said...

oh no, this breaks my heart. Daniel and I just watched the doco "Waiting for Superman" about the American school system...it completely freaked me out that in a few years time I'll be sending Che into a space that I really have little control over. But as Daniel reminded me, that's the big wide world. Still, muma's always want to protect, don't we.

Hope he gets better and stronger soon, sweet boy.

Happy you like Ruby Who?


trudi@maudeandme said...

It's an oldie...but try "sticks ands stones will hurt me but names will never...." You probably need to give your child some strategies to deal with any future taunts. They need to feel empowered to handle these situations. Gosh kids can be cruel!

Mon Alisa Design said...

Oh sweets...it can be so heartbreaking can't it? I suppose the only thing you can do is re-iterate how fantastic he is.
We've been relatively lucky with Amelia as her school is so small and all the kids play together, of all ages. There have been the odd things happen but her teacher is fantastic at nipping it in the bud (I suppose with less children she has more time to focus on the problem at hand?)
I dunno hon,... but don't be dismayed. With a mumma like you he's sure to shine :)

Lis said...

And this is half the reason I pulled my one out to homeschool at the end of last year. He carried this stress burden from just before he turned 6, madness. I couldn't bribe him to go back to school now.

No advice because clearly I took the 'easy' way out, but I'm sure you're doing all the right things just loving him.

Hope he's over his sickness soon.
It's tough to be a kid xx

Mama Mogantosh said...

Oh, the heartbreak. It's so tough. I went through this a little bit with Ivy at preschool last year, and I'm sure there's more to come at school. What helped me was remembering the importance of home being a safe, loving space where everybody thinks you're wonderful even when the world outside is telling you different; and also that social experiences like these, however tough at the time, are important for little ones to develop resilience and compassion. You'll help him through this hurdle, and later he'll be able to use it as a marker to handle later pain of his own or to understand the pain of others. That's my take.

fast times in m√ľnchen. said...

Oh no. I've only met the little dude a couple of times but still, this breaks my heart. I just want to cuddle him and tell him everything will be ok. Because you and I both know it will. The thought of someone laughing at him makes me cranky. I also have a sensitive boy with very little confidence and I would love to know how to booster it in preparation for times and situations like these. I wish I knew how to help but Mama Mogantosh is right. These dealings develop resilience and strengthen coping mechanisms. I know all kids go through it at some point (lord knows I did). It just sux when it's your kid. It'll be over as quickly as it started.


Norbyah said...

oh this is a hard one, lexi. and i feel for you because my own little girl has been bullied right here in our neighbourhood. and, i've got a boy who is a sensitive soul. what i've done with my girl is to help her talk through these times (granted i'm hovering over when she plays outside because i know who the bullies are) and i've also been quick to speak sharply to these bullies (in her presence) so she now knows some ways to respond to them when they are mean. it's not fool proof, but has sometimes helped. that and building up her confidence as best i can---and to be honest, mostly just keeping her the hell away from those kids. thinking of you. xo

toni said...

Well you are doing everything right. You have a safe and loving environment at home and you encourage your children to share and talk to you. You also talk to the teachers and knock things on the head before it gets out of control.
Still this is my biggest worry and I wish I could give you and Doctor a hug.
Last week at kindy all the girls ran away from my little girl and told her she wasn't allowed to be near them.
It starts young doesn't it?

rachelmp said...

It's so tricky, but I have found that if the kids have a couple of good friends to make them feel a little better. You can always speak with their teachers for a bit of perspective too. It still hurts and your heart goes out to your kids.

Cindy said...

I am by no means an expert but these are the things I have learnt thus far.
If they are developing friendships organise some play dates as those friendships always make your day easier.
Make sure he knows what to do if he is feeling bullied/ unhappy. "Stop it I don't like it" and walk away and if it continues to find a teacher.
Let the teacher know especially if you know who it is. I have found the all very open to information and it helps them to keep an eye on stuff in the classroom.
Have a dialogue with DR so that he is telling you, but ask for the good and bad so it doesn't seem to focus on the negative.
Talk about what to look for in a friend to surround himself in positive people.
And that is no solution, there isn't one as much as I think tripping the said shitty kid would make me feel better - this parenthood gig isn't an easy one

Anna said...

Poor kid :(

I don't know what to do, but I think if he's got a couple of good friends it won't be so bad and he's such a sweet kids he's sure to have lots!

I think what Cindy said is good too, and any stuff I've read or seen about bullying have said that if you can get him to just say no to the kids doing the bullying and then walk away it will make a big difference.

He'll be ok, he knows he's loved :)