Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Art Of Bullying

I've written previously about the bullying. About the Doctor's first year, first term even, and being bullied. About the angst it brings. That feeling, as a parent, of feeling helpless, of guilt, of wanting to stand up for your small child. And the anger.

I'm lucky that the Doctor's teacher is so amazing, and as soon as I've mentioned it, she's stepped in, found the next appropriate moves - and made them.

It was only on Sunday, when we were enjoying the sunshine that the Doctor sidled up to me and told me he had something to tell me. But that he wouldn't say it in front of his Daddy or Tiny.

I neatly tried to angle away from Matt and Tiny. Tiny threw an almighty tantrum and screamed, but I had to segue so I could chat with him. He rarely comes out with these things, and I know that when he comes to me, I need to tread carefully because he withdraws further and I have to work harder and harder to get the information that he tentatively wants to share with me.

And so it was that he told me that a boy in his class, in fact a guest at his birthday party, had orchestrated a 'team' to team up against the Doctor. One kid kicked him in the face. And that another kid in another Kindergarten class punched him in the stomach whenever he sees him. "It doesn't happen as often anymore, but everytime he sees me, he does it. He punches me." Then it all made sense.

It was then that I realised why the bad moods, the feistiness, the very things I put down to being a six year old boy. The morning ritual of telling me he felt sick. I bought it because he has been sick. He's had a cough. He's had month long colds. But man I wish I had seen this coming. Because that sickness he described in his tummy? Anxiety. Butterflies. That sick feeling when you're dreading something, translated by a six year old as being sick.

No wonder he's never really told me he loved school. I expected him to fall in love with school. I was a big nerd at school (heck, still am!), and loved it. I've been waiting for him to fall in love with it. But it's not there yet. He loves reading, and writing, and the joy he gets when he can sound out a word - thrilling. This learning to read ride is a giddy, awe-inspiring ride, and education can never be undervalued. But he doesn't love it, just yet at least.

And when I think about bullying being part of the Kindergarten culture - well it makes me wonder what's going on in these kids homes to think that HEY THAT'S OK! How are their parents going to react when the teacher tells them what their little five or six year old has been up to? What happens?

So I'm sharing this story, in the hope that if your child is being bullied, maybe our story will help you. Or maybe your child is the bully - and maybe this story will help you too, because it's not ok.

Bullying in any shape or form is not ok. Never. Ever.

image totally unrelated. Me sitting in woeful traffic.


Anonymous said...

Oh my god, I know he's not my boy but after reading this I just want to grab The Dr and hug him and protect him and cry for him and promise him that everything will be alright and no one will hurt him any more - and I'm sure it's not even a touch on how you feel.

I imagined how I would cope if it was my child - and I cried.

Lexi - you write with such amazing control. You are an incredible mum doing a brilliant job supporting a wonderful boy through a challenge that most parents hope they never have to face.

I wish I could help - but instead all I have to offer is a *hug* and a hope that your beautiful boy never comes to harm at another's hand again. Thank goodness that he told you - that he knows he can come to you.

I hope things get better. xxx

The Beetle Shack said...

I'm shocked that this is happening in kindergarten. Im a high school teacher and rarely see this kind of thing. teachers need to be accountable as do parents.

I feel weighted. I cant imagine how you must feel.

Brenda @ Mira Narnie said...

not good pmm - so sad for your son! My son starts school next year and i'm a little nervous as he's a bit reserved and not "boyishly boisterous" if that makes sense. I hope you get the right support from the school! xx

Anna said...

Oh that is so sad. I'm so sorry for all of you and I'm so shocked that that's happening in kindergarten. Hoping, wishing and praying that it gets better for him soon. Kids like the doctor should love school, it seems so unfair that that's being taken from him at the moment.

Aunty Ollie said...

Hi Lexi

I am not surprised at all sadly. We have experienced it and so have sooo many people I know. I was shocked to hear so many stories from friends. We lived in Dubai for three years til last year and seriously, this didn't exist there.

When we moved back to Sydney last year, a group of year 1 girls ganged up on my little girl and teased her about her skin colour, her "weird" hair. And more. She dealt with it herself, wasn't excited about school (I too, wondered why as she had loved it) until one day she lost it and opened her mouth and just screamed, and screamed, and screamed at them all til the teacher realised something was up. Because it was racism the school was extremely responsive, as were the "nice" families involved.

I wonder though if it had been "normal" bullying, if they'd have cared so much. And I don't say that to diminish non-racist bullying, not at all, it is all cruel and horrible, just to make the point that they cared a lot to not be seen as racist. Kids can be really mean.

Honestly, I know it is not PC but I think the best strategy is to teach kids to give a bit back to the bully, call them a few choice names. Push a little if you are pushed. They won't be back. Not everyone is nice and it is a horrible horrible thing for kids to deal with this early in life.

I felt sick taking the kids to school for weeks, months, afterwards. Now all is OK. And my kids are much tougher and have their own anti-bully strategies... Fingers crossed for no more repeats for us and hope you and your boy can sort his out

The Mummy Hat said...

Bullying at Kindergarten, how heartbreaking.
I hope the teachers and the parents put a stop to this awful behaviour immediately, poor Doctor.
Shocked, saddened, angry, this post really made me want to find those kids and yell at them. God help me if my little one ever gets bullied, I doubt I'll handle it in a controlled manner.

Anonymous said...

Big love to the Doctor; and to you, Lexi. How bloody awful. What little turds. I so agree with you; what makes kids think punching and kicking is acceptable? I am also nodding along to the having a sick stomach = anxiety. Actually it is my 18 year old self nodding along. When I used to mind my then 6 year old nephew who always had a 'sick tummy' before school. I didn't put two and two together until he was about 15 and told me all about the bullies he'd faced each day. I felt good for letting he stay home more days than I sent him to school (and vindicated because I'd borne a lot of crap from my brother over letting him 'manipulate' me into staying home).

Big big love to you all xx

Joni Llanora said...

It's horrible to hear about this but to be honest I think the policies here are very lenient when it comes to bullying. I grew up in the Philippines where strict disciplinary actions at school are enforced so bullying never thrived. I really hope change happens soon.

toni said...

Lexi I am deeply saddened. I wrote about you and me on my blog.
I love you Doctor and Lex.

Marie said...
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Marie said...

My God, this is so sad, like you said I can't believe this is happening in kindergarden !! I just want to give your little boy a hug. My sister was bullied in middle school for a while until one day I got so mad that I stepped in, and threatened the bullies to get all of my (older) friends to kick their ass that they just got really scared and that's how it kind of ended too. Bullying in such a plague, my little guy is only 2 but I do think about it when I see it happening so much around us. Are kids becoming crazy ? Is it the bad influence from the TV that's making them more aggressive towards each other? I really wonder... In the meantime I really hope things gets better with the Doctor at school. Kids can be so merciless with each other, it kills me... But on a positive note, things WILL get better and from what I've observed with my sister, her bullies didnt end up with a successful life or career but she did. I'll be thinking of you and your little guy, you two will get through this :) xxx

trash said...

Rotten little bastards. I suppose there is no chance we could get away with organising a lynchmob is there?

Power and credit to Doctor for actually being brave enough to tell you. There are many who suffer in silence throughout their lives bc they never find the courage to share. Uber-mama points there for instilling that into your boy.

I can only suggest you continue the communication with his teacher and involve the senior staff members. And when I say 'communicate' I obviously mean head into school with heli rotor sounds and 'The Ride of the Valkyries' blaring because no one gets to do this things to your boy.

Mon Alisa Design said...

Oh Lexi, this breaks my heart! I just have the image of your little man being attacked....So horrible! I suppose the only positive of it all is that he felt comfortable telling you about it. So so brave! Now you can really take the bullies by the horns and try to work out a strategy to deal with this. Hopefully the school is supportive. Big kisses to you and the Dr.

Francesca said...

My son started kindergarten this year as well. And the strange thing is, I have much greater fear that he will bully rather than be bullied.

He has a friend who has bully written all over him. I hate to think of the things my son is learning in the playground. Sometimes I notice the way he treats his little brother and it frightens me to think he'd treat other children the same way at school. I hope it's just sibling rivalry.

Anyway, suffice to say, all this has prompted conversations about bullying already. I hope that this gives him something to think of when he's in a group situation.

Norbyah said...

thank you for sharing this story. i think as parents, this has got to be one of the toughest things to navigate. when this was happening to my little girl, i watched her become anxious about playing in any playground, whenever she saw other kids. she would cling to my leg. she used to be a confident and happy girl, who would race into the playground as soon as we got near. i admit to being a hovering mother..... but i just couldn't bear to hear my daughter come to me and say "so and so says no one likes my hair" or "so and so says i'm not pretty" or "so and so says they don't want to play with me."

it sucks. i'm glad the doctor's teacher is on board. it helps to have eyes and ears when you're not around. thinking of you and him and hoping it gets better.

[Good Mum Hunting] said...

This breaks my heart. Bullying is disgusting. A true reveal of character. I was bullied at school by an older, bigger girl and it really shook my confidence.

There isn't much I can offer, except your son sounds like a truly beautiful soul and that he deserves better. No child deserves to be bullied at school. Especially in Kindergarten where everything is so new and daunting.

I hope for a bright outcome for your son, I hope the teachers can intervene and assist when necessary.

I agree with Joni, a stricter penalty should apply for kids who bully. There was no bullying at the 2nd school I attended which was private, and it's definitely a reason why I am sending my kids to private school. I'm sure there is still bullying in the private system, but teachers were WAY more strict about it and wouldn't stand for it in class, on the sports field, anywhere...

ecobabe said...

Good friends of ours have just moved their daughter to a new school after. She is in year 3 and was bullied in Kindergarten. The bullying has apparently stopped, but the dent it made on this little bubbly girl was immeasurable. The parents worked with the school for 2+ years to try to stop the bullying and rebuild the self confidence. In the end both parties agreed that a change of school was the best option. Keep on top of it, as I know you will. God bless the Doctor for knowing that it was right to talk to an adult about his problems. You've got a keeper there :)

sophie said...

It's not the world it used to be that's for sure. Luica has escaped bullying thankfully but I have spoken to mums whose kids have been targeted at our school and physically bullied day after day. They are usually boys and I cannot figure why this is happening. There is so much aggression and anger in some of the boys that makes me wonder what does go on at home so that all those feelings end up at school.

I just am so sorry that the Doctor's first year of school is not what it should be and that sucks the big one, it's so unfair and I seriously hope the school stays vigilant. He is such a brave boy, he is so lucky to have you.

teddybearswednesday said...

OH lexi is soo heartbreaking and sad and awful.
Poor old Doctor,poor old you.
UNfortunately I'm not surprised at bullying going on at Kinder, as I was bullied when I was a kid.
I often have wondered the same thing about how the parents of the bullies can let it happen or that's its ok, even in my case after my bully was confronted and the parents told.
anywhere i'm glad he has an amazing teacher. and I hope there is some resolution that will stop this from happening anymore to him.
And to other Kids too, that there is a way we can all tackle this bullying problem.
Biggest love to you and your dear little boy xo

Sarah said...

I do remember the last time the bulling incident. POOR boy he is amazing he went to chat with you - tell him I think he is amazing for a six your old to do tat.

Tell him wont you. Amazing.

AND I am so pleased the teacher got on top of it ASAP. She is good. Our school appears to have a good set up and action plan - they have done great things to tackle it.

Mel said...
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Cass said...

Hi Lexi, that makes me so sad for the Dr but with parents like you I know you will sort it out. I is amazing the amount of bullying that goes on and you really need a principal who is on top of it and teachers who know how to deal with it. Good luck I hope everything gets sorted out and the Dr can thrive at school. It makes you wonder about the backgrounds of those kids doing the bullying though.

Bec @ honi design said...

I used to tell my mum i had a 'bowling ball tummy' which was the only way to describe the awful sick feeling I'd get. Wasn't till years and years later mum realized that I had anxiety- and was most likely mildly dislexic. It's good that he's come to you and I hope those little wretches get their what-for and the bullying stops so that he learn to love school.

My Messy Room said...

Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story, it is every considerate parent's worst nightmare for their child to be bullied.

I hope the school actively supports you immediately, before serious damage can be done...he is so young!

Lots of hugs to you both and stay strong. xx

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! That is terrible news!

I know this isn't much help now - but I was bullied in high school by someone who'd been my friend - so I know the feeling.

I am a cataloguer and today I catalogued this AMAZING book... called Don't Peak in High School... gawd it made me weep a little when I read through it... http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5151731?lookfor=celebrity%20bullying%20%23[format:Book]&offset=7&max=9

Keep talking about it - I think the only way to combat this is for people to talk... so often adults don't even understand the dynamics of bullying and it's effects... keep talking... raise awareness!

mama bear said...

This is heartbreaking and shit. Kudos to Noah for confiding in you, it means you're a great mama and he trusts you. I hope this issue is resolved. It's good to be aware of the sick tummy feeling and notice anxiety in children, thanks for raising that point on your blog. It's something i'm sure many people don't realise at the time.

Really hope this gets sorted out Lex, and you guys are both ok. xxxxx

Hazel said...

This makes me so sad Lexi. Bullying at any age is awful, but so young? Hope it gets sorted for the Dr and your sake.

Megan.K. said...

Oh Lexi this must be so hard. It makes my blood boil to hear about bullying, in any form, at any age - but crikey - a kindergarten child? It's just wrong, wrong, wrong.
I hope with all my heart that you and the Doc find a way through this.
I agree too with the comments above about how wonderful it is that he felt trusting enough to confide in you. Thank goodness. From everything you've ever written about your boy he seems like such a wise and sensitive soul.

Huge hugs to you both.


spectacularfairywren said...

sad AND cranky

Anonymous said...

this is so so heartbreaking and I am soooo glad he told you. He is lucky to have such a wonderful family there for him. Unfortuneately it happens more and more and even at schools that you think are OK. I don't know what's gone wrong with the world and more and more girls are doing it physically as well as bitchily these days. My 12yo is at the same primary my 18yo went to but between Zoe starting at that school in grade 4 then Isobel getting to about grade 2 the bullying thing was horrible. It certainly doesn't end in kindergarten and being ever vigilant and nagging the Principal is the best way. They used to say high school was tough, it's got nothing on primary these days. The minute I hear about something from Isobel about someone who has upset her i am emailing the Principal cos she keeps saying they have a no bullying policy but nothing changes.

Catherine said...

Lexi - I am feeling so sad and angry for you and your Doctor. I'm so glad he has a teacher you trust (but it's just so hard for teachers to know and see everything isn't it?)
I also wanted to thank you and let you know I've read so many of your posts about this,and thought about my own childhood experiences (I LOVED the learning at school, but hated the bullying and having to underperform to fit in), and my own daughter's current experiences, and not managed to write a comment - just wanted you to know I appreciate your honesty and thoughtfulness x

jodesmac said...

so not cool.... i hope your teacher/principal has spoken to the class about bullying ....as well as the individual ...as well as the Doc to let him know that he did the right thing telling you and that they can keep him safe. My confident, happy girl was bullied in Kindy and could not find her voice to tell a teacher. Threats had been made by the other girl. The teachers gave her a card so that she never had to say a word but if she needed their help she just had to hand them a card.
The school pounced and had systems in place to let the other kindy girl know that this would not be tolerated.
Today they are in year 5. They have never been friends but they are okay.
I hope Doc will be okay, it will take time and some confidence building (and a pro-active school)
and a robot dancing mum who can make him smile.
make sure you follow up on what the school is doing about it (in betweeen your other billion jobs)
best wishes xx

Karen said...

I felt so sad when I read your post that your poor little guy has to go through that - in what should be a joyful time of discovery for him at school.
My two eldest start school next year - and at times the thought fills me with dread.
I hope you can get is all resolved.

Taylor Made said...

So very sad that this is an issue in Kindergarten!!!!
Thanks for sharing.

dear olive said...

Oh, what a horrible, sad thing to have happen. I can only imagine the depth of your heart break over it. I think it's a huge testament to you guys as parents that the Doctor feels safe enough to confide in you. I really hope it gets resolved and he starts to enjoy school. I was a total nerd bird too, assigning myself homework and couldn't wait to get to school each day. School should be fun for every kid. Kellie xx

Anonymous said...

Far out. My eldest boy is off to school next year, and I've heard terrible stories about bullying and kids talking and acting inappropriately towards each other: yours is probably the worst. Makes me wonder what happens in these kids homes that makes them think this is acceptable behaviour? What kind of world are we living in?
Hope your boy is OK. He deserves to feel safe at school. He deserves to love the sh*t out of school, and be a big old nerd like his mama. Thank you for sharing his story.

Rhiannon said...

I have just come by your site, and the first post I have read is about your little boy and bullying, it is so unfair your your littly. Its great to hear you talk about it, and also how proactive you are in dealling with it.