My daughter started 3rd-grade last week and was very excited on one hand and apprehensive on the other. She couldn’t wait to meet her new teacher and find out who would be in her class. She was a little nervous though since she had some issues with a girl in her class and spent the last few weeks of summer praying they’d be in different classrooms. I prepared her the best I could no matter which way it went.
We found out the day before school started that her whole class was kept together and moved to a room upstairs with a new teacher for this school year.
The decision was tough for me as a parent. I could either request to have her change classrooms and separate her for the majority of the day from the bully along with the friends she made. The other option was to leave her in the class and see how this year went. Before making any decisions, I decided to talk to her and see what she thought. I explained that although the girl was in her class again, she was in a class of 19 students. That meant there were 18 children besides her in the class, and she had 17 friends. That alone made her feel better. She told me all she’d been focusing on was the one person that made her feel so terrible. She said if it were the other way around, having 17 people that didn’t like you in one class would be way too much to handle but everyone was bound to have one person that didn’t like them in class.
She felt much better starting the new school year off with this new outlook. I decided to have her come up with a plan. It’s a lot easier to deal with a difficult situation when you have an action plan to fall back on. I asked her a few questions and within a few minutes, we had two plans put in place for her to deal with this situation this year.
- Ignore her
- Talk to her directly- tell her to stop, ask her how she’d feel if someone did that to her, ask her why it makes her feel good to try to make people feel bad
- Tell mom and dad so we can figure out what to do next- we’ll help her decide if it’s a situation the teacher needs to be aware of or if it needs to go further than that
- Tell the teacher immediately- this is if she’s doing something that compromises her health or safety
So now that she had some steps to take, I wanted her to have a plan in place to give her confidence in the heat of the moment. When the girl in class says or does something particularly rude or mean, this is what she came up with-
- Ask yourself if what she’s saying is true
- If it’s not, then tell yourself what the truth is.
- If it is, take it as room for improvement. The delivery method could be improved but it’s up to you to make the most of the information.
- Remember the way she treats you shows what she feels about herself
- Read the affirmations inside my notebook
Of course, I want to minimalize and eliminate any discomfort my daughter might feel but I realize there’s an important lesson in this situation. I’m trying to raise her to handle situations on her own to the best of her ability. Instead of having her placed in a different class where she could be in a similar situation with another student, I’ve decided to equip her with the best tools I can so she can handle it no matter who is on the other end of this scenario. I explained to her that bullying isn’t limited to children so it’s not something that will be outgrown. By removing her from the class, it’s not teaching her the lesson I want to instil.
On our walk to school on the first day, I reminded her what we talked about and had her recite her two plans to me. She seemed confident and excited so I left it at that. As she gave me a kiss and headed to the class, I reminded her that no one had the power to take a good day away from her. I told her not to put that much power in someone else’s hands. She has the choice as to how she responds and what she takes away from the situation. She smiled and told me she understood.
When I picked her up from school, I couldn’t wait for her to tell me about her day. She had an excellent time in her new class. She sat next to her best friend, she got to play with one of her older friends at recess and she had a blast. She said that when she walked into the classroom, one of the first people she saw was the girl that doesn’t like her. She said it would have been rude to look her in the eye and walk right by without saying anything so she smiled and said good morning. She told me that the girl came up to her and apologized for the way she behaved last year. On our walk home, we discussed that she got an apology last year and the behavior continued. She said that she knows not everyone will be your friend but all she can do is be nice, when the girl isn’t nice back then she just has to remember there are 17 other kids in the class.
What are your thougths on this post? Have you tried something similar with your kids? Have your kids experienced bullying in school? What kinds of conversations do you have? What solutions have you come up with? I’d love to hear what you think!