Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Tale Of Two Bullies

All in all, Stomp has had a pretty mellow year. But he has had two notable incidents with kids who were less than kind to him. They were both handled by me and the school and I would assume the other childrens' parents. The outcomes were very different. Please note, I'm not going to call anyone out here because these are just children. They will simply be Child A and Child B.

Child A: Child A is a little boy of a woman that used to run in our circle of friends. Eventually we had to explain to her that it was a challenge to be her friend when her child was so clearly out of control. Not a comfortable situation for anyone. However, this child is in Stomp's classroom and they spend a lot of time together. Roughly 2-3 times a week, Stomp tells me that Child A has done one of the following: screamed in his face, called him names, bitten him, kicked him or hit him. On several occasions, Child A has been called into the principal's office for threatening to kill another child or for violence against another child. Stomp's teacher (who, fyi, is freakin incredible) has chatted with me at length about what's been going on and we've come to the same conclusion: Basically Stomp is a sensitive kid, very in tune with other's emotions and very concerned with being kind and polite. Child A has trouble, in their teacher's words, "looking out for other children's emotions". I've done what I can on my end and the only person who has any chance of getting Child A to respond is his parent, who is apparently not concerned. The behavior continues to this day. Thankfully, Awesome Teacher has made a request to the principal that this boy not be near my child in next year's classroom. But it's gone further, because Child A has missed so much school and been such a disruption, he has been held back a year and will not even be on Stomp's radar for next year. They won't share a lunch or a recess or anything like that. I keep thinking to myself that I just have to get through the rest of this school year and this nightmare child will be away from mine.

Child B: Child B is a little boy who is in Stomp's gym class. For a few days in a row, Stomp told me that this little boy had been unkind (name calling, pushing, etc). I told Stomp that we should give it a day or two and just see what happens. "Sometimes", I explain to my sweet, loving child, "Sometimes people are just havin a rough week. Let's give it a couple of days and see if he snaps out of it". I took this approach because I had never heard of Nathan having a problem with this child before. We gave it a few days and when it continued I talked to Awesome Teacher and she spoke with B's teacher and his parents. Within a day or two, Child B had apologized to Stomp and they now get along fabulously in PE and elsewhere in the school. Quite a different outcome from what has transpired with Child A, wouldn't you say?

I've thought about this at length and I think the only obvious factor that's different is the parents. I went through the same channels and the same steps with each situation and they turned out so radically different. I assume that Child B's parents took him aside and told him flat out, "unacceptable, you apologize, you handle this situation properly and you apologize". I know how Child A's parent responded because I've had several encounters with her regarding her child's behavior (not just with Stomp, but his behavior in my home and how he treats other adults and children, etc). I know that her attitude is that her son has had a bad year and that gives him license to behave however he wants. I understand that a child has a rough time, but that doesn't mean you just throw discipline and standards out the window.

Have you other Mamas had experiences with bullies around your children? Have you found anything that worked? How do your schools handle it? I confess I was surprised how young it started with these 2 boys. But Stomp's school has been incredible about how they've handled it. On my end, I encourage him to be polite and to be kind and I reiterate, particularly about Child A, that it's okay for him to play with someone else. He generally tells me that A "tells on him" when he doesn't play with him. I just keep repeating that he will never get in trouble for that, that he has the right to find friends who are kind to him and treat him with respect. "Child A can tell on you all he wants to, Awesome Teacher and your Mama know what's going on and you are not, nor will you ever be in trouble for finding a friend who isn't mean to you". He struggles with it quite a bit because he wants to be kind and not hurt anyone's feelings. I suppose that's a flaw in how I've raised him. Perhaps I should've taught him to be more protective of himself instead of teaching him that kindness is the first and best response you should give.

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