One day, I went to pick up my daughter from her Pre-Kindergarten class like usual. When I opened the door and saw her, she was not her normal, happy self. I could tell instantly that something was different and asked her right away what was wrong. She was unusually quiet and the teacher said she had a good day but it sure didn’t look like it. The teacher made some statement that she may be tired or hungry and I thought, that’s not normal for her, I’ll figure it out later.
As soon as we stepped out the door, she broke out into tears. Whoa! What just happened? I stopped, knelt down, and hugged her tight. I was overwhelming distraught by what could’ve happened and immediately asked her, what was wrong? What happened? She said “those girls” said my dress was ugly and they were being mean to me. OH WOW. WOW. I couldn’t believe it already started. I didn’t think I would be dealing with this at least until Kindergarten. I was so upset. I wanted to go back into that class, grab those girls, and spank them.
I was at a loss for what to do. I wanted to talk to the teacher but she just wanted to go home. So I held her for a few minutes and carried her. My head was spinning about what to do because I never really thought about it. I thought I had at least a year or so before I had to deal with that.
So now what do I do? Talk to the teacher? Talk to the parents? I definitely have to talk to the teacher. If I talk to the parents, that might get ugly, I decided to stay away from that especially considering how upset I was.
When we got home, I had a long talk with my then 4 year old. I realized that I could not protect her 24/7, which I knew but this was definitely a reality check. I had to teach her how to handle this on her own. I told her to stay away from those two girls. If they were around, walk away. If they tried to talk to her, just walk away. If they started to be mean, tell them to leave you alone or let them know they are being mean and you don’t like it and walk away. Ask to be moved if the get seated or lined up next to you. If they keep bothering you let the teacher know. I told her, find your friends and stay with them. Don’t let them bother you, you remember that mommy, daddy, sister, and grandma love you very much. People like that don’t deserve to be your friend and they don’t know what kind of friend they are missing. I told her to practice saying, stop, I don’t like it, you’re being mean or you’re not nice and I’m walking away.
I did tell the teacher that two girls were bothering my daughter if she could keep an eye out for any problems. Every day for several weeks, I checked in with Anna to see if anything had happened. She would tell me if she avoided the girls, if they tried to talk to her she communicated how mean they were and walked away, or if she just walked away. I was very proud of her, I can’t imagine how hard it was because she was very shy. She seemed to be okay but there were a couple instances when I would drop her off and she would let me know if one or both of the girls were around, I could see the anxiety on her face and in her voice. Talk about giving them the evil eye, I couldn’t help it. Ugh, it took everything not to pull those little girls aside and ask them what was wrong with them.
They eventually left her alone and stopped bothering her.
Ironically, awhile before this, I was told that my daughter was being mean to her cousin. Something about spitting in his food, I didn’t get the whole story, I don’t really know what happened but that’s what I was told by his mom who says she witnessed it. Oh man. This was hard to hear. I found it really hard to believe because she’s normally pretty well behaved, at least to my knowledge. I had to address it because it’s not okay. I had to ask why and remind her of the “golden rule”. Had this continued or become a consistent complaint, I would have to sit her down for a serious conversation. One that includes, encouraging her to communicate feelings, asking is there something she’s not telling me, that may be bothering her? What can I do to make things better? Luckily, I haven’t heard any other incidents since but that just could be that no one has said anything. I’m hoping that she understands that it is not okay to be mean or a bully.
As a parent, both situations are tough. It’s hard to imagine our kids being the bully and our kids getting bullied.
It’s hard to find that fine line between kids just being mean and actual bullying. So I think to myself that probably neither one of those behaviors should be tolerated and as an adult we have a responsibility to stop it. I don’t let my kids be mean and I talk to other kids being mean because they should be aware that it is not ok.
My husband also has zero tolerance for that behavior and will tell the child to take him to their parents.
The earlier we can catch bullying and mean behaviors, I hope kids learn and can teach each other along the way by vocalizing that it’s not ok. Guide with the Golden rule because it’s a really good guide to live by.
What is your experience and how did you handle mean or bully behavior? Please share!