A Parents Worst Fear: Bullying

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.

polly first day of schoolShe 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.

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57 thoughts on “A Parents Worst Fear: Bullying

  1. I think you handled this so well! You didn’t jump the gun, you didn’t blaze in there all accusing. You listened to her, believed her, you were there for her, ready to protect her.
    I’m so glad it got sorted out.
    You just know when something isn’t right!
    Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutYou

  2. There’s so much unpleasantness she’s picked up since starting school, it’s been really tough if i’m honest. We seem to be on a constant loop of ‘getting her on track’ during the holidays only to for it to fall apart at the seams at school… I’m seriously considering alternatives at the moment. I’ve got a post in draft with more on that…

  3. I totally know where you’re coming from here hon, and feel the same. The biggest problem with school is that you have absolutely no control over what happens there. It makes me too sad to even consider our kids going through this regularly xxx

  4. I’m hearing ya lovely! Kids really can be cruel, which means we have to be super tuned in to this kind of stuff and not give the would-be bullies a chance!

  5. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts with this and well done you for understanding your daughter’s reaction, taking the right action and quickly. This is great advice for us all x

  6. Oh bless you. I am petrified of this especially with my son who has more things that kids are likely to make fun of him for glasses, epi pens, inhalers, allergies and things he can’t change or control. Kids can be cruel and I am so scared of bullying. You did well to sort it out and fight her corner I hope that’s the very end of it for her. Bless. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  7. That’s awful that your school doesn’t take it seriously 🙁 i really can’t complain at how our school has handled this at all…

  8. Aw, I’m so sorry to read what she has been going through. Bullying is horrible, but I’m glad it’s come to a head and you’ve spoke to the school about it. It sounds like they’ve dealt with it really well #sharewithme

  9. That must be heart breaking to learn your daughter has had that behaviour from others and that’s amazing that the school responded so quickly and well to sort it out. I hope she is much happier now x

  10. So sorry to hear your daughter had to go through this, but am so glad that the school stepped up and took steps to stop the bullying! I remember all too well what it feels like to face bullying at school. Unfortunately, the schools around here never take things like that too seriously. Hope your daughter doesn’t have to deal with any more situations like these!


  11. I was bullied by boys in middle school and by girls in high school, so, like you, bullying is something I am very conscious of and something I would chop off a limb for if it meant Gwenn would be spared it in the future.

    She is only 21 months so I have a while to prepare myself for the dreaded school but even before she was born (when she was an it!) I said to Andrew that I wanted to bring baby up in such a way that they knew I would always take seriously anything they told me, and that honesty was always the best policy (even if it meant admitting to drawing an non-commissioned mural on my white walls!). I hope that Gwenn grows up knowing I will always listen, understand and respect what she tells me and hopefully if she is bullied then she will feel like she can open up as soon as possible.

    All this being said, I can’t imagine how I would feel if it did happen. I’m so pleased that it sounds as if your daughter’s experience of bullying was quickly resolved and hopefully that will be her last.



  12. Oh Renee this bought tears to my eyes! To thinksome of these problems have been related to other kids bullying her is just so sad isn’t it? I am very glad you found out and well done you for asking the school to do something about it – hopefully this will make a huge change to all of your lives, and give her the confidence to talk you if something like this happens again, as she knows that you will do something to help her. hugs! xx

  13. My friend’s girl was bullied from reception all the way to Yr 3 and they’ve now moved. It’s just awful, and I’m going to just have to be super vigilant about knowing what’s happening in her little world. From that perspective this can be seen as a positive xx

  14. My word Louise that’s just awful! I’m pleased you’ve managed to get it all stopped quickly though. It’s an absolute minefield once they start school. I have more than half an eye on home ed right now… Thanks so much for dropping by!

  15. So glad that you have seen improvements with your daughter after getting the school involved and helping! My eldest is five and we’ve now had three minor bullying incidents since she started preschool (at 3) and have resolved them all through getting the teachers/school involved quickly. I think by this stage my daughter indeed knows she can come to me and we’ll believe her and help. Last year, it was bigger kids almost beating her up on the bus. The driver wouldn’t intervene but as soon as we told the teacher, it was promptly fixed and my daughter now loves the bus. This year, there is a boy in her class with boundary issues – sometimes he hits, sometimes he kisses and she doesn’t like either. Once we talked to the teacher about it, the teacher started working with both – ie: giving my daughter strategies and words to tell him to stop; explaining boundaries and appropriate “play” to him. It seems to be going better.

    All that to say – can’t agree more – early intervention; and listening to your kids so you can describe the issue as accurately as possible to those who can help is key. Great post!

  16. This terrifies me too, and I regularly see how horrible kids can be to each other. It must have been so heartbreaking to hear but well done for getting straight into school to get it sorted. It’s good to hear they were so supportive and made changes immediately! xx

  17. Oh Renee this is awful. You wouldn’t think the little ones would have to go through this 🙁 I’m so pleased she was able to open up to you about it and that she can see the positive outcome at school & home. x

  18. How horrid that your girl is so young & that bullying can occur even at her age. I always think of bullying happening when kids are older. I think you handled it in the best way & got the best outcome (rightly so) hope the positivity continues x

  19. I think you dealt with that so well, so calmly and most importantly in a way that got the problem dealt with.

    It was very perceptive of you to realise too that something was up with your little girl. It was very perceptive of you to realise that the violence was coming from *somewhere*.

  20. I’d love to read the post once you’ve published it hon. I’ve signed up to your blog now, so should get an email notification, but can you please tweet it to me too?

    Sorry that you suffered when you were a child, and that your eldest went through bullying. Sounds like it was short lived thank goodness, and fab that your middle boy was confident enough to protect himself and stop it before it even begun! As you said only time will tell for your youngest, but he has a wonderful family looking out for him and teaching him about the way the world works which is a massive head start in life xx

  21. It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on this kind of thing, as it starts so early. The Head gave me the impression that it too often goes unreported and only does once it’s got really bad 🙁

  22. Sorry darling, didn’t mean to make you cry. I can’t believe how young all this stuff starts. Thanks for the love, always appreciated xxx

  23. Thanks so much Rachael, fingers crossed that’s it! Sounds like you are doing the right thing with Mushroom, get them being open and telling you everything as early as possible xx

  24. Thanks so much lovely! I’ve been reading up on high sensitivity, Elaine’s checklist was one of the first things that drew my attention to it all. I’ve read another condensed e-book, which covers a lot of this without me having to add another book to my reading list. I’m guessing you have some highly sensitive children too? xx

  25. Thanks so much. It’s awful to think how young these things start, but it’s an unpleasant fact that we have to live with when we have school age children 🙁 xx

  26. I’m so glad the school have been supportive-so important. Have you read ‘The Highly Sensitive Child’ by Elaine N. Aron? Might be worth checking out for some tips if you’re not already aware of it.

  27. This bought tears to my eyes to think of your little girl being bullied. And so young. Perhaps I was naive to think this was more of a teen occurrence 🙁 it sounds like you handled it perfectly and I’m so happy the school took action. And even happier that it has made such a change to your little lady. Much love xxx

  28. This is also one of my biggest fears. Your poor little girl but thankfully she confided in you and you did the right thing by getting it sorted straight away. I think at that age they don’t necessarily realise that what was happening was wrong but I’m so pleased you sorted it all out. I genuinely hope that now it’s all resolved and things keep on going in the right direction.

  29. It really is my worst fear so I am very glad you were listened to and have had positive action taken.

    You have given me some help understanding what to do if my little one suffers too do thank you.

  30. Thanks for your lovely comment Jess. I thought your post was fab, and it really resonated with me. I’d never think badly of you for trying to be lighthearted, I’m really enjoying your blog!! Keep up the fab work xx

  31. That’s exactly what was going on Emma! That’s exactly the way I see our job too, just have to be super vigilant in the future xx

  32. Absolutely Renee, and this depicts how unique we all are and how we all react in different ways. She was trying to comprehend what was going on and playing out the same behaviour on those around her. It makes me realise how totally important our job as a parent is, to be observant and to be understanding. Ha! Easier said than done. Expect the unexpected! Very good luck x

  33. Renee, this made me well up. Your poor little girl! I’m so glad you went to the school and got it sorted out. She’s very lucky to have such a perceptive mum who didn’t just tell her off for taking it out on her little brother (although it sounds like she is also very affectionate towards him) but realised she was just responding to behaviour she had experienced. I feel a bit guilty because my post this week was subtitled A Parent’s Greatest Fear, as you know – which was of course slightly facetious on my part, but I hope it’s obvious that everything I write plays to the funny side and I obviously think bullying (and worse) are much worse parenting fears than setting precedents! I hope your daughter doesn’t experience any more bullying at school and I’m glad she is much happier the last week. xx

  34. Firstly, well done for addressing this. You’ve been bullied and you know better than those who haven’t, just how important this is. Glad to hear it’s stopped. My parents never clocked that my ‘challenging’ behaviour at home was mostly because I was being bullied on a daily basis and needed a release. I was (still am) highly sensitive. In fact, I have a post in draft that I’m just finishing off (for post 40 bloggers) which addresses bullying. So please don’t think I’m copying you.
    One of my older sons went through a phase where he was being bullied and I found his teacher to be quite dismissive of it…until I opened my trap and gave her a piece of my mind! My other boy? Well someone tried to bully him but he just turned round, punched them in the face and that was that. My little man (who is autistic) well it remains to be seen how the world treats him. At the moment, his ‘quirks’ are mostly tolerated at school (give or take some pushing and shoving and it mostly goes over his head anyway) but it won’t always be the case.
    Excellent post. Hopefully you’ll take a look at mine when I publish? X

  35. Well done for addressing this problem Reneé. I can really easily see how the bullying could have gone unnoticed by you given her challenging behaviour and I think it’s brilliant that she trusted you and you tackled the situation. I’m so glad the bullying has stopped and things are easier for your little girl and you. You’re a fab parent. xx

  36. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Emma! I remember reading your blog when Esme was going through this and feeling so sad for her. The trouble with my girl is that she didn’t so much become my shadow, just took it out on her siblings… Unfortunately because her bad behaviour had become the norm we didn’t think there was anything to worry about at school. I will certainly be questioning any particularly bad behaviour from now on!

  37. Hi Renee, this is heart breaking. I feel for you all. You are absolutely right that rarely do children of this age make things up and well done for jumping on it so quickly. I also had a time of it with Esme when she was in year 1. Two year 2 boys were bullying her. I wrote a lot about it at the time on Life As It Is, and I think you read the poem. I will say this… I am gutted I never recognised it myself. That I was unable to help her voice it earlier. From that point of view, I’d like to add to your many readers, this: If you have a little one that suddenly becomes your shadow, and does not want to go to school anymore, it will be well worth having a quiet chat with them, to try and find out why. And if you can’t get to the bottom of it, take it to the school and get help. After all, it’s only when they come out the other side, you realise how dark it was for them while they were in there. ;-(

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