“Cici’s the boss and she told Jenny and Amy that I can’t play,” my daughter said when she got home from school.
I stall for time, “Okay . . . why is she the boss? Who decided that?”
“She just is. She said.”
Now I’m mad. “Well, can’t you make someone else the boss?”
That was Monday. Now, Thursday she is still “locked-out” – which is what it’s called when you don’t want someone to play. Six-year olds with a queen bee already? I thought I had more time to figure this out.
Today she brought two stuffed animals to school today and said hopefully, “Maybe Cici will like my stuffed animals and let me play with her.”
When the stuffed animal plan didn’t work, she told me, “When Cici gets sick, they said I could play with them.”
So What Is Bullying?
This happened four years ago. I look back and wonder, did this count as bullying?
Kat Eden of Education.com shared with me their definition of bullying. It’s not kids being kids — losing their tempers, or acting mean to their little sisters. Bullying is . . .
- A difference in power between the two participants.
To make matters worse, Eden says that, “It’s very unlikely that a child has been bullied tells an adult.”
Why Don’t Kids Always Tell?
Now my daughter did tell me – which is a reflection of her age and more typical for elementary school children. The bullying that happens in elementary school, says Michelle Anthony, Ph.D. and author of Little Girls Can Be Mean, allows for more parent intervention because at least for girls, they crave parent involvement. (We know that this shifts in middle school.)
Anthony says that the goal for us as parents is to make sure our children know that they are not alone, they can trust us, and they are empowered to use their resources when we aren’t around.
- Observe. Watch your child and how he or she responds to conflict.
- Connect with your child. “I notice that . . . when your friend Katie leaves, you start fighting with your brother a lot. Are you sad that she’s leaving?” Help your child notice behavior. Listen with empathy, don’t problem solve.
- Guide. Brainstorm the things your child can do to deal with the bully. Write as long a list as possible so it appears that there are many solutions.
- Support the Act. Help your child pick 1 idea to try. You’re building inner strength and efficacy here, parents. Then, role play the idea at home. If the idea doesn’t work, go back to the list and help your child pick another idea.
Be An Adult Who Helps – Advice from Education.com
- Create a safe space for a child to talk to you about what has happened.
- Do not freak out.
- Listen. Don’t problem solve.
- Commit to helping.
Eden says. “Go to the teacher, if you don’t get an exact plan and response, go to the principal, if you still don’t get anything, go to the superintendent, you keep going even if you have to hold a town hall.”
Schools Who Get It
Eden tells me that schools that have the most success in eliminating bullying from their campus are integrating the skills in the classroom curriculum. Skills like what does it mean to be a good friend, or not a good friend, those kind of things. If bullying events do occur, these schools take a holistic approach. They bring in the children involved, witnesses, and make sure the whole story is understood. Then, they involve the classroom teacher, the bus drivers, the parents, the hall monitors, everyone, to make sure the child that has been bullied feels safe. The schools makes sure that the bully child knows people are watching for behavior and it won’t be tolerated.
Last weekend The Bully Project arrived in select theaters with some controversy over the use of language and the rating of “R.” Here’s the trailer for the movie which is slowly opening in more cities across the country. We get it here in Denver next week.
The Bully Project’s website says that “this year 13 million American kids will be bullied. 3 million students will be absent because they feel unsafe at school. . . . Often, the victims of bullying are socially vulnerable because they have some characteristic that makes them different from the majority.” A 2011 study found that 40% of teachers and school staff consider bullying a moderate or major problem in their schools. Read more:
Parent and Teacher Resources Related to Bullying