10 year old being ostracised by whole class(65 Posts)
Name change here
My heart is breaking for my 10 yo DS, who broke down in a right state on Christmas Day. We finally prised it out of him that his was ostracised by his whole Year 6 class for pretty much the whole of last term. He's still pretty clammed up about it, but it appears there are one or more kids who are intimidating the others, and threatening to send them to coventry if they play with DS. There is one kid he chats to a bit.
DS doesn't want me to talk to the school as "he thinks it will only make things worse". Can anyone tell me what sort of strategies the school would use in such a situation, so I can try and put his mind at ease that it's not going to backfire. I also can't get the name(s) of the perpetrator(s) out of him, as he doesn't want to snitch (although I have my suspicions).
We had no idea this was going on. He's such a lovely, caring kid. He's a bit geeky (not interested in football, lives a bit in his own world), so I can see how he might not click with some of the other boys, but doesn't deserve this sort of treatment. Any suggestions about what to do.
Just a quick update as so many of you have been so supportive.
Whilst things are still occasionally a little tense, DS is a lot lot happier now. His form teacher has continued to work on the group dynamics and has also been keeping an eye on him in the playground, where he seems at lot happier. He still sometimes plays on his own, but that seems to be more when he is not interested in whatever the others are doing and is busy making up his own games in his head, etc.
The great news is that he has been offered a scholarship to the private school next year, so will be off there. I know it's not a complete panacea but I do know that the local comp does have some bullying issues, so at least it will hopefully be an easier route into Year 7 for him.
This morning DS went off to Year 6 camp quite happily. He said he was a bit nervous but also quite excited. Of course, I'm fretting about how he's getting on, but I'm much more confident than I would have been three months back.
Thanks again everyone for their support and suggestions.
Your son is right, you are a good mum! (And I'd give you the 100%, but from a child 99% is pretty awesome).
Am I right in thinking that the ringleader hasn't been tackled about this by the school?
Has the teacher justified this?
consider moving schools - worked for dd and for friend's kids
home ed will take the pressure off temporarily
You've made my eyes leaky OP
As the mum of a boy who didn't fit in at that age, I can truly empathise.
DS never quite fitted in at primary, often ignored, sometimes bullied, just not 'one of the cool kids' (his words).
After a scary start at secondary (suicidal within weeks followed by a fortuitously quick ASD diagnosis), he is in Yr 11 and doing great. He has a good group of friends, some also bordering on geeky but happy in his own skin. I honestly never thought he would reach the point where he had an active social life away from a PC but I'm pleased to be wrong.
Your DS will find his place, probably away from the group that he currently is struggling with. Your support is invaluable to him. Any praise is high praise at that age!
Thanks Mother2. It's so rare to get unsolicited feedback from kids that it sort of hit me for six.
So glad you went and spoke with someone. Even if you considered moving schools. If your son left, the bullies would find another child to pick on.
Sounds like your doing a great job mom!!!
Firstly, so sorry to hear the others who are going though the same thing. As a parent you feel so helpless...
At the moment DS is joining in ok with general play but I still got the impression that something was wrong, and we got it out of him today that he still isn't "allowed" to play football, as he's not very good at it. So it's a partial result, but DS would like to have the option to join in occasionally, so we need to work on that.
Had quite an in-depth conversation with him earlier about bullying in general, how adults can be bullied too, how to be assertive ("did you mean to sound so rude" ), practised some assertive body language, discussed why people might bully, etc.
Afterwards he sidled up to me and said (in a semi-joking fashion): You're a good mum.... Well 99% of the time anyway.".
Tears welling up here . I'll take the hit on the 1%
We've had similar for nearly 2 terms now. There is one boy in his year group who picks on a child in turn and then only leaves that child alone when he manages to get them to pick on someone else. He focuses on differences and makes comments. ds was signed off games, this child encouraged others to use this as a starting point that ds was somehow 'weird'. I went to see the class teacher and the head, which then led the head to hold a whole staff meeting on the signs they should be looking for. They tackled each child who was asked to consider the impact of their actions and resolved it. Ds was able to make a few friends and was much happier. Sadly after the Christmas holidays its started again, with this child again inciting others to make comments about ds differences (ds has become very popular with certain teachers and been rewarded for outstanding work which ringleader really doesn't like!) This time, I've taken a sideways approach as ds was getting moody in a particular teachers lesson, so I've contacted her and she has then contacted other teachers. This time, a lot of the teasing has been about a play they are supposed to be doing that one class has been given more information about than the other class, which has given the ringleader the perfect opportunity to wind ds up about the part hes supposedly been allocated and what hes going to be made to wear as a costume.
The teacher didn't seem to realise that by only sharing this information with half of the children gave them the perfect opportunity to play on ds insecurities.
Also, by year 6 there are boys that are simply getting too big for their boots and need more intervention than just the class teacher.
Really, the only way to deal with bullying such as your son has is by the teacher and head making a very firm stance and not forgetting. The book will only work if your ds has confidence in the system, I suspect the bullies have worked out it exists!
Keep going, it can feel like you are constantly going to see them about something or other, the deputy head told me that ds had to desensitise himself to what is considered normal teasing and wasn't happy when I told him I didn't consider ds being told they were going to split his head open and then the ringleader imitating me when the teacher was out of the room as 'normal'
Thankfully they have decided to do a whole school week on how the children co operate with each other and the moving around the school (cloakrooms and playgrounds have been identified as problem areas) so hopefully a big improvement will be seen.
Also ask the teacher to get your ds together with like minded youngsters so that they can form a stronger group on their own.
Glad things are a bit better! It's awful that the teacher forgot the sessions though. Even if everything had been fully resolved (which I'd never assume without checking), those other kids do need to learn about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
Well done to your son for being so brave though! (If he doesn't like writing in the book, btw, the teacher could give him stickers with different expressions; smiley faces, angry faces, etc, as I've found some kids like to use those. Even older kids).
Sounds like you're doing a great job supporting him!
Glad you are making some head way now but do continue pushing for the PSHE lessons etc. And get it thoroughly stamped out now.
My eldest DS was in the same situation 3 years ago - virtually identical ie one-time friends being absolutely vile & ostracising him until entire class were doing the same. And he kept it all to himself too, didn't tell me until he started high school. He saw high school as a fresh start. Unfortunately the vile children didn't - mostly I suspect because they had never had to face the consequences of what they did to him.
Firstly, many apologies for not coming back to update. Progress has been slow, but we're gradually getting somewhere.
Had a meeting with the class teacher and the head when school went back, in which they were very supportive. DS let on a couple of names to me eventually, and one to the teacher - so we managed to find out the perpetrators between us. Oddly, the gangleader wasn't the kid I'd suspected, and one of his hangers on was a child who'd been a good friend to DS in the past, so he felt betrayed by that.
The school recommended a subtle strategy to deal with the situation. Firstly, the teacher gave DS an exercise book in which he could record any problems, and just pop it on her desk if he wanted to communicate. He liked this idea, but afaik he hasn't used it.
Secondly, (with DS's permission), she assigned a few boys to watch out for him in the playground. He gave us four names, including (interestingly) the one who'd been his previous friend who was hanging out with the gangleader.
Finally, she suggested they ran some PSHE sessions about feeling left out and strategies for dealing with it.
All well and good, but the PSHE sessions didn't materialise. DS was kind of waiting for those as a trigger for trying to join in, and I had to go in and remind the teacher (she'd forgotten). Maybe she'd taken the lack of communication in the exercise book as a signal that he was OK, but he's been very clammed up.
Anyway, the PSHE sessions finally happened yesterday and today. The result was that at the end of lunchtime today, DS plucked up courage and joined in the last 10 mins of play in some sort of tag game. That was a big step for him - had a conversation with him this evening praising him for being brave etc.
So not a complete turnaround, but hopefully a good start.
How did "back to school go"?
I know you weren't saying anything negative about your son, you sound like a great mum! (I often call my daughter geeky in an affectionate way, she says it about herself, calls herself a "science nerd"!) I just meant that schools can start doing that really quickly. Even if a child is a bit different (in general, I don't mean your son), that should not be treated as a negative but schools sometimes panic a bit!
Glad you guys were able to have a bit of fun but I'm sure it is scary going back to school! If it helps at all, from my experience the thing that buffers them from the worse impact on their self esteem is loving supportive parents... and he's clearly got that!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Thanks for that advice Magdalena. It;s interesting what you are saying about the child's personality. I suppose I could be guilty of implying that in my OP when I mentioned about him being a bit "geeky". I'm not saying he is to blame, just trying to rationalise the situation. I also hadn't thought about Childline as an option.
We've had a good week off - Hobbit, social activities with "neutral" kids, a playdate arranged for after school next week, etc. Not looking forward to next week though.
I work with bullied kids and it's a horrible thing! First it's important that it doesn't become about him (sometimes school's responses can imply it's the child's personality, etc. In fact, research suggests that it's quite random often. Your son needs to know it's not his fault)
I would ask to see both the head and the class teacher straight away. It is important to be (gently) realistic with your son that it can take a bit of time to completely sort out, but reassure him you will keep on until it gets better. One important thing is to agree with the school and him exactly what he can do if there is any comeback from the kids for "telling" (who he goes to, etc.) I would bet he's also not the only kid on the receiving end... If so, would be good to identify the others for solidarity.
My daughter was bullied and it's awful. I feel for you. Calling Childline can also be useful for them... Even with loving parents they sometimes want to talk to someone who is outside the situation and it's confidential so he could open up a bit more.
If you think the teacher will be along side then I'd speak to the teacher as first port of call. They're the ones that have seen it happening, will be dealing with it day to day. Very easy for the head to say "I'll tell Mr/Mrs. X to do something" to find that the form teacher says s/he's tried it, or would prefer to try something else first etc.
I wouldn't pull him out for two terms without trying to resolve it first because otherwise he's going into secondary with that behind him.
My dd1 had huge problems last year in year 6. The teacher did his best but it never really resolved. She went to a secondary without most of her yeargroup and it's been really good because she felt she could start again without anyone on her back.
Thanks again everyone. I agree Huppo that the first point of call should be to try and work out the problem within the school. In the meantime, he's still got a week off and I'll be arranging some activities and see if we can hook up with some other kids.
Mrs Rudolph, thanks that's v interesting - teacher or head here could do exactly the same thing to the 'ringleaders' and certainly doesn't have to say that op's ds has said anything - it can just be 'I think I've seen what you've been doing, have you? no? good, well make sure you don't or there'll be huge trouble'; or if the answer's yes, 'well you stop it now or there'll be huge trouble'.
(PP I'm definitely not suggesting you dictate the script to the head! but it's just useful to know what tactics successful teachers have employed in the past).
PP, I know you've gone off line for a while, but hope all our posts are helpful! For now, just to reiterate sympathies to you all. Can you do some fun things as a family over the rest of the hols as a family to distract ds - The Hobbit, ice skating?
Whatever you do, don't consider moving forms or schools as the first option. It may become the only option but surely his having braved it out for so long, you should at least try to back him up and take the fight to the bullies.
I'm concerned that the form-teacher has noticed nothing. That may show poor training but whatever is going on, I agree that you need to have a letter or e-mail in the head's in-tray on the first inset day of the year.
Good luck and all strength to your son. Defying bullies is a mark of honour and you should tell him so!
They were not bad kids at all, but got too big for their boots in year 6.
Just needed bollocking basically in our case.
I think the big thing to remember is that there are options, and you are not alone.
She was a very experienced yr 6 teacher and had noticed ds being a bit quiet, but when she had asked him if everything was ok he said yes.
The day I called, she took him to a quiet room and asked him directly if someone was being unkind...he cried
She knew exactly who it was...the boys were "larger than life characters" (she later told me) .
She got them out of class one by one, and they fessed up, blaming it all on each other. I got told no more details when she phoned me later, but she assured me it would not happen again. And it didn't. I know they all had to apologise to ds.
They all got on ok afterwards...all at different schools now.
Oh your poor DS.
Definitely go to the Head. This is a serious matter, it's not some momentary squabble. For a 10 yo to break down crying on Christmas Day because he has suffered at school... that's a Head matter.
I think it would be ideal to resolve this issue working as a team with the teacher and the head, and for him to complete the year at his school and in his class, where he rightfully belongs. He deserves the opportunity to feel... comfortable in that classroom... accepted as an person and a valid member of the class. No, teachers can't force kids to be friends, but (decent and inspirational teachers) can definitely instill a sense of respect between classmates so that at least kids don't feel ostrasised, ridiculed or bullied.
If attempts at resolution fail, then consider moving schools.
Through all this, your DS needs to hear that no matter what is going on at school, to you and the family he is 100% accepted, loved and thought of as generally brilliant all round. Try to find examples of people in the public eye that he is aware of, who it is reported had a hard time at school. We all know there's so much more to life than these random crappy kids in Year 6... but he doesn't (yet).
All the best x
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