Posts Tagged ‘dealing with bullies’

Bedtime Story

February 21, 2008

Sunday night, I decided to break out Just a Bully by Gina and Mercer Mayer for bedtime. I wanted to gauge the response from Boy. I hoped to mine his still developing brain for more specific information about his experiences in preschool. I’ve had better ideas.

When the bigger kid (crocodile) picks on Little Critter’s little sister, I stopped reading and asked, “Does anybody at school pick on other kids?”

“Yeah.”

“What happens?”

“That crocodile bein’ mean.”

“Yeah, that crocodile’s not very nice, but let’s see what happens.”

When we got to the sequence where Little Critter is bothered on four distinct occasions by the crocodile, I stopped again and asked, “That crocodile isn’t very nice, what should Little Critter do?”

“That crocodile bein’ mean.”

“Is anybody mean to you at school?”

“O – – – .”

“What does he do?”

Pointing to his forearm, Boy says, “He bite me on the armpit — like this.”

On the very next page, Little Critter tells the teacher about his bully. I said, “That’s good to tell the teacher when somebody’s bothering you. Do you know who else you can tell?”

“Um.”

Big sister chimed in: “You can tell Mommy and Daddy.”

Unfortunately, Little Critter doesn’t tell his Mom. In fact, Little Critter suspects Mom knows he’s pretending to be sick, “but she let me stay home anyway.”

Little Critter’s little sister advises her brother to give the bully a punch. Having had his project destroyed by the bully, the bully warns Little Critter he’ll get him later. And at the end of the day, Little Critter and his bully fight in front of the school as the buses are loading.

In 1999, at the advent of zero tolerance policies toward violence in schools, Just a Bully has a faculty member break up the fight, scold both fighters, and the fighters are free to get on the same bus.

After Little Critter’s little sister humiliates the bully on the bus, Little Critter and his sister ride home together on the bus, and as I close the book, I see Boy make a fist with his right hand and start hitting his open left palm.

“What are you doing?”

“I punchin’ the crocodiles.”

“Why are you punchin’ the crocodiles?”

“Them pickin’ on him.”

“What are you going to do if someone picks on you at school?”

“I going to punch them.”

“Son, I don’t want you punching anybody. What else can you do?”

“I going to point at him and say ‘I don’t like that.’”

Well, that’s something.

Yesterday, my wife had a parent-teacher conference at Boy’s school. She met with his last teacher, as Boy’s only been in his new classroom for a month. The teacher asked how things are going for him now, and my wife said, “We ask him every day how school was, and he says, ‘Good O – – – wasn’t there.’”

The teacher said, “Yes, for some reason they just seemed to butt heads.”

They just seemed to butt heads.

What a fanciful world we try to live in sometimes. Maybe by imagining these children are merely butting heads, one can imagine there are no problems at home. If children are butting heads, they just have a personality conflict and there aren’t deeper issues that need to be resolved. Regardless, I’m happy we got Boy out of that classroom.

Yesterday, my wife sent me a link, and I’ve seen it in my research, but I don’t know why I’ve not referenced it before. Boys Town sponsors http://www.parenting.org. A search for bully provides a number of articles — updated since the new year: “How to help the victim.” “The Bully, The ‘Bullied’ and The Bystander.” And “How To Deal With a Bully.” Much of the advice is directed to teens as they have the communication skills necessary to be able to make clear the problem. So when bullying is happening in preschool, I think the onus is on the parents and the school. The specific article my wife sent was “Biting, Bullies and Other Bad Behavior at Preschool.” The most important advice is directed at the teachers: Children who are bullying others should be closely monitored.” I’m glad we moved Boy from that classroom, but are there other kids still suffering?

 

A bully update

February 11, 2008

It’s a bad weather day.  No school for Boy, Big Sister, or me. 

I do, however, have an update on Boy’s plight.  He’s in a new classroom, with a new teacher, and he’s making new friends.  Same school though, so that means Boy and O (his friend that bites and hits even though “friends don’t hit”) have lunch together.  I figure there can be safety at lunch, because all the adults are present watching over the little table. 

Then again, just last week, according to my wife (who I trust not to fabricate stories of this nature), O grabbed a beater from the counter (yes, the kind you would find attached to a mixer) and hit a younger kid’s arm with it as she and Boy were hanging up his coat.  O is evidently still not suspended or expelled.  But if he is, what happens to him? 

Some folks probably wonder why I should care.  A lot of folks have wondered what the deal is with the preschool itself, but I keep coming back to this other kid’s parents. 

I recognize that one solution is communication.  But for a lot of preschoolers I keep hearing parents and teachers demanding that these children – bully and victim — “use their words.”  Clearly they don’t have these words that we want them to use.  And have you tried holding a conversation with one of these kids?  Do you recognize how easily persuaded they are?  How easily you can get them to say what you want, or how easily an idea can be put into their heads?

Until the kids are old enough, you’ve got to work on educating the parents and continue teaching the kids as best you can until they’ve reached the developmental milestone that helps them control their own behavior. 

There have to be programs out there, and I imagine there’s funding through grants that would support bringing programs in, but how do you make parents attend?

Though how hard would it be, really?  If you’re a private school, make it a condition of enrollment.  If you want your kid to go to our preschool, you — the parent — have to participate in our sessions.  At http://amy34.livejournal.com, there’s the tale of a co-op preschool that requires its participating parents to attend various seminars.  One such seminar she attended was on anger and bullies, I’d love to have all parents where Boy goes attend that one.  But the ultimate solution the seminar had for bullies saddens me as much as it does the author.  Sometimes you just have to hit back.  Amy’s not the only one to make such a suggestion either — not that she makes the suggestion as it came from the presenter of the seminar.  A famous children’s book author’s suggested the same, and at one time I was appalled, but I’m not as strong in that conviction anymore.               


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