I was bullied at several of the schools I went to when I was a kid. It’s been one of my biggest worries as a parent, especially for my eldest who at 5½ is not much taller than her almost 3yo sister. She’s a July baby too, so as well as being the smallest she’s also one of the youngest.When she started Reception last year it felt like we were throwing her into the lions den. She struggled. Lots. She would come home at least once a week with a sticker saying she’d bumped her head, or a note to advise that she had fallen over and scuffed her knees (again) in the playground. She often complained that she was getting pushed over, but her teacher at the time said it was where she was in a world of her own, and ended up being cannon fodder when other kids were charging around. Overall she seems to be coping better in Year One, but it’s far from perfect.
Our girl is what the books call a challenging child. She is also highly sensitive and takes the little things that go over her friends’ heads to heart. Towards the end of last year her general behaviour went from bad to worse, and at the start of the Christmas holidays she was displaying fits of rage and violence like we’d never seen before.
She was hitting, kicking and punching, throwing things around the room, it was traumatic for all five of us. After a lot of effort on mine and hubby’s part to stay calm no matter what, stop shouting and change some of our own negative behaviour, we saw improvements in her, but there were still things that weren’t going away. The most worrying was her ever-increasing over zealousness towards her baby brother, who is almost one. She was squeezing his hand really tightly, multiple times everyday, sometimes hard enough to make him cry.
Bullying starts young these days
I quizzed her on it last week, and although I didn’t expect much of a response as she can be very difficult to get information from, she blurted out that one of the boys in her class had been doing this to her. Apparently it was happening when they were having ‘learning time’ which is when the kids have been told not to interrupt the teacher. Basically he’d worked out that he could get away with it because she wouldn’t tell on him. I asked her how long it had been going on and she replied ‘ages’. As I’ve said she is highly sensitive, and lets face it a five year olds perception of ages could be anything from a few days to a few months, but I didn’t want to risk sitting on the information. I told her I’d be speaking to her teacher the next day and making sure it stopped.
While we were getting ready for school she said that a different boy always treads on her feet when they are in their phonics lessons. My guts churned at hearing this, not one but two boys have been bullying my little girl. She has then been coming home and doing what most five year olds would do (I imagine), and taking out her frustrations on her nearest and dearest. Then getting into trouble for it.
I ended up having a very pleasant chat with the Head on Wednesday morning. He thanked me for bringing it to his attention so quickly and promised to get it nipped in the bud so that it didn’t get out of hand. When I collected her that afternoon I spoke to her teacher who said she had split the usual groups up, so my girl wouldn’t be sitting with those boys anymore. I cannot tell you how much of a positive change we’ve seen in her this past week. I don’t want to go jinxing us, but it feels like we are finally making the progress we have been so desperately seeking.
There are three things going on here
1. The groundwork hubby and I have been doing since Xmas.
2. The bullying has now stopped.
3. By taking what she had told me so seriously, and making sure the school took it seriously, I think my daughter has finally realised that mummy is fighting in her corner. Something I’ll be doing until I draw my very last breath, but perhaps among all the meltdowns she had stopped believing this.
I would urge any parent who thinks their child might be being picked on to deal with it immediately. The Head said that at primary school level, most instances of bullying can be stopped in its tracks as quickly as it started, providing they are made aware of it as soon as it comes to the parents attention. Kids don’t really lie at this age, and these types of allegations should be taken seriously.
Have you had to deal with bullying as a parent? I’d love to hear your views.