A word about bullies
Starting school is an exciting time for kids and parents. A new routine, new friends, new experiences – it’s a time of so many first. Sometimes it can be a bumpy transition for parents and kids, but after a few weeks, everyone eventually adapts to the school routine, but sometimes problems arise.
Bullies are a parent’s worst nightmare. How dare another child try to influence your kid’s positive attitude towards school and make them feel anxious and sad. Shouldn’t all kids get along? Most of us have had some experience with a bully during our own school careers – whether in high school or public school. As parents, we want to spare our children the unpleasant experiences that we endured in school, but unfortunately that’s not always possible.
When my daughter Katrina came home from senior kindergarten and told me that a boy in her class threatened to hit her, I was really disappointed. Kindergarten is an exciting time to learn and explore – not worry about bullies. The next day she came home and said the same boy spat in her face. I of course called the school and spoke to the teacher, voicing my concerns. I learnt that this wasn’t an isolated incident and this boy in particular was having difficulties socializing with the other children. He was hitting and spitting regularly, and not just directing his poor behaviour towards Katrina.
The next few days were uneventful, but then on Friday, she came home and said the boy punched her in the stomach. As if that wasn’t enough to set me off – the school was closed for the weekend and no one notified me that my daughter had been assaulted (sounds harsh I know, but that’s what the school board describes any physical contact between children).
When it comes to your child being bullied, you are not helpless. I called the school again to express my disappointment and to demand a resolution. I also followed up with the school board. The principal and school board contacted me on Monday, and the situation was quickly resolved. The little boy was provided with extra help from a teacher’s assistant to address his needs. I was never upset with the boy – obviously he needed some individual help to learn acceptable behaviour.
I was upset that the situation had to escalate to physical contact, but I was amazed at how well Katrina dealt with the situation. Yes, she was upset, but she just told me she wasn’t going to play with the boy anymore because he wasn’t nice to her. We made a point of not making a big deal out of it, because we didn’t want to upset her or influence her positive attitude towards school.
A few weeks have gone by and the little boy is learning acceptable behaviour. Katrina even comes home some days and says she plays with him. We talked to her about bullies and we regularly ask her about her friends in class and how they make her feel. We always want her to feel comfortable talking to us about what happens at school. Letting her fight her own battles is one of the hardest things as a parent, but I’ve realized I can’t always be there. So making sure we talk and instill confidence in her own judgment and choices will hopefully enable her to deal with any difficult decisions that arise. One thing that resulted from the bully situation was to enroll her in martial arts. It’s not about learning to fight, it’s about being confident in her own abilities and being able to take care of herself in any situation.