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Bullying; I'm trying to be reasonable but it seems to make it worse!

(58 Posts)
ks Mon 18-Nov-02 23:06:35

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robinw Tue 19-Nov-02 07:23:43

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ScummyMummy Tue 19-Nov-02 08:01:54

I think to a certain extent this child's mother is right, ks. What can she do about this, other than issue a serious message to her son that such behaviour is not on and wrong? Who knows what her son would take from this- kids can behave very differently when away from their parents. My basic rule of thumb would be NEVER to approach other parents to sort out problems between children at school unless they are good friends and you therefore can't avoid it! The classic reaction is denial, especially if parents feel on the defensive anyway, which she may well do if everyone is gossiping about her son being violent.

I presume this bullying IS happening at the school? If so, you need to focus on approaching the school rather than the mother, IMO, as they should be controlling the situation and making sure that your poor boy doesn't have to put up with this sort of shite. I totally agree with Robin that he should not have to put up with this bullying and I'm not surprised you are boiling with rage. Having said that, do you know how your ds reacts when this child torments him? May be worth going through possible strategies with him- eg: ignoring name calling by imagining himself in a bubble that the other child can't penetrate, telling the teacher if he is hit or has his property destroyed, even hitting back, if you approve of that and think that it would be possible- ie this child isn't 17 times bigger than your ds! Hope this is sorted out soon so that your ds doesn't have to put up with this crap.

aloha Tue 19-Nov-02 10:28:32

Kicked him in the stomach? I think it's time to arrange a meeting with the headteacher of the school and demand that this is stopped now. I certainly don't think your son's nice nature is a problem - esp if this boy has been violent before. I think you need to go to the school and don't leave until you have an action plan designed to stop this violence in its tracks. You are NOT being unreasonable. I would feel the same as you - if not more murderously angry!

janh Tue 19-Nov-02 11:32:22

ks, this sounds awful and of course you're angry, I have boiled with rage over more minor things than this.

Has the school replied yet? They can actually take action even if the other boy attacks your son off school premises so there is a lot they can and should be doing. (My DS1, aged 7 or 8, was followed home from cricket practice, in the evening, by 2 older boys throwing stones at him all the way - when he stood his ground and said "why are you doing this to me?" they laughed and said it was fun. I told the Head about it next day, she had them both in her office and nothing like it ever happened again.)

Good luck!

Marina Tue 19-Nov-02 13:10:48

Like the others here, ks, I don't think your reaction is at all unreasonable. And I'm also not very surprised that the other mum was offhand and unconcerned when you raised it with her. "She would say that's wouldn't she", if you get my drift. I'd go through the school (how did you find out about this boy's previous violent behaviour, by the way?) and not rest until you get an answer from them. I was bullied very badly at your ds' age, for probably the same sorts of reason, and the school did nothing. Thank goodness times have changed. Let us know how you get on.

ks Tue 19-Nov-02 16:50:06

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WideWebWitch Tue 19-Nov-02 16:53:01

Ks I can only speak for myself but if another mother phoned me with something like this I hope I'd listen and promise to investigate. OK, she wasn't there and if the school and her son haven't told her that anything is going on how is she supposed to know? But she should be concerned rather than shrugging it off IMO. I agree that you should have a meeting with the head and ds's teacher and see if you can get to the bottom of it. They ought to have a policy on bullying, most schools do. Good luck, let us know how you get on.

tigermoth Tue 19-Nov-02 18:48:11

In a way both you and the other boy's mother are in agreement, Ks, though I can quite see why you feel so angry. Possibly under her offhand exterior, the other mother is boiling over with rage, too.

You are both saying it's down to the school to control this. When all is said and done, it is in school time. What can either of you reasonably to to discipline or protect your children then?

I agree with scummymummy - first and foremost it is a matter for the school to sort out and you are right in wanting to see the head. Are you being unreasonable by telling the mother as well as telling the school - no IMO.... BUT even if the mother had promised you on her grandmother's honour that she would discipline her son severely if he ever lifted a finger towards your son, how much of a promise is that if the school can't back it up? That's not to say I think the mother should be unaware of the upset her son is causing yours. I just think it is up to the school to take this further with her and her son - and most importantly, tell you they have done so.

Can you trust the head to sort this out? if not, perhaps this is not the school for your son. IME schools do vary in their approach to violent behaviour.
Must dash - will post more later

babster Tue 19-Nov-02 18:52:37

Sorry ks, I don't want to hijack this thread but I'm interested in the part where you speak of teaching ds to 'toughen up'. My dd (nearly 3) is likewise very gentle, and gets pushed around by a friend of hers who is very bossy. They can play together very nicely, but if my dd doesn't want to do what her friend tells her (!), then toys are snatched away, she gets pushed, and dragged around by her clothing. Dd gets upset easily, which doesn't help, as to her friend this is a fun reaction to provoke. The other mum is aware of the situation and when we're present it can be contained, but it has overspilled into nursery and dd suddenly doesn't want to go any more. I've already swapped one of dd's days for a day when the other girl won't be there to see if this helps.

But what I really wanted to ask was, can anyone suggest coping strategies for a tot? I encourage her to say, No, Stop that, Let go etc. but I'm getting tempted to say, Push her back! But I'm a quiet soul myself and loathe to incite violence amongst the under 3's!

ks Tue 19-Nov-02 19:21:33

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ks Tue 19-Nov-02 19:23:12

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tigermoth Tue 19-Nov-02 19:58:51

babster, whenever my sons have been involved in playfighting situations, I have always told them to tell a grown up and move away from the child who is teasing/hurting you. That of course depends on a grown up being close at hand and on the ball. It's when there isn't that, IME, that the problems begin.

Ks I have been thinking about your son just now and I wondered, is his lack of confidence linked to this other child's treatment? Have these incidents had a strong effect on your son? is he still upset about them? Or was he fairly matter of fact when telling you? When I see my two sons playing together, I am constantly amazed at what gets brushed off and what results in tears. It is not logical in an adult way.

It's just that the lack of confidence might be a separate issue. Obviously bullying will not help the problem, but is it the cause of it? When you see the head, can you also ask how the school can help build your son's confidence?

I had a slightly similar incident with my 8 year old son at the weekend. Now my son (as you may know) had a playfighting/and at 4 years a brief hitting phase on and off at pre-school and first years of primary. Change of school and/or growing maturity put paid to that.

On Saturday he went to a sleepover at a friend's house on our road. It was the boy's birthday - he was 7. There were 3 other boys there. All except one were physically much smaller than my son. An hour or two later there was a knock on the front door and a there stood my ds. He had run out of the house because the other boys were slapping him with their night clothes and hitting him. He didn't want to fight, said it was a madhouse, and wanted to be in his own bed. He was clearly upset. I phoned the mother to let her know my son was home but chickened out of telling her exactly why. Still don't know what I should have done - I decided things would heal given time. They did - my son went round for a birthday tea the next day, though told me he'll never be friends with this little gang. However, in some ways I feel I let my son down by not saying something to the mother. My son has never been bullied at school (yet) but I suppose this incident gave me a small taste of how it feels.

GeorginaA Tue 19-Nov-02 20:38:16

I've been thinking about this. I would warn that I'm speaking on experience of being bullied rather than experience of being a parent - my son is only 18 months and *fortunately* I haven't had to deal with this (yet).

I was wondering if one of the key issues is really to give your son the confidence to deal with this himself, so if in future (god forbid) he finds himself in a similar situation he'll have the tools to deal with it.

I thought maybe in addition to what you're already doing with the school would it be worth sitting down with ds somewhere quiet one day, and talking with him to see if he can come up with strategies on his own (and this is the hard part I know) without judgement on the rights and wrongs, leading him towards any particular solution that *you* like, or reinforcing the feeling of being a "victim". You might be surprised with what he comes up with - and he might surprise himself giving him that all important confidence (which does more to stave away bullying than all the strategies in the world, I'm convinced).

I wish my parents had done similar with me when I was a child - I might have not gone through the feeling that I was somehow "pre-ordained" to always being picked on. It wasn't until almost an adult that I learned those sorts of skills for myself.

robinw Tue 19-Nov-02 21:51:32

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ks Tue 19-Nov-02 22:36:11

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ks Wed 20-Nov-02 17:26:30

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Bozza Wed 20-Nov-02 17:31:48

KS I would be so cross but agree it was probably best that your DH was there too. No wonder you're anxious if your son is at a school run by someone who is so obviously dismissive of your concerns. It sounds very much to me as though she doesn't want you to rock the boat and (to add another cliche) is trying to sweep the issue under the carpet. What is it to do with her whether or not you record incidents. You are perfectly entitled to do this if you wish. Even I'm cross - you should be fuming.

I'm sorry I'm ranting and I hope somebody can come on here and offer you genuine advice. Good luck.

lou33 Wed 20-Nov-02 18:08:29

All I can suggest is that if the headteacher is unwilling to help then maybe you could take it to the board of governers. The school should issue a list of who they are and how to contact them. Good luck.

tigermoth Wed 20-Nov-02 18:15:39

It sounds like this meeting hasn't resolved things at all. Waht a pity the head wasn't more aware of your feelings. Ks, did you actually ask point blank what the school's bullying policy is? If not, why not phone the head tomorrow and ask this - a reasonable thing to do IMO - say you have been thinking about the discussion and have a few questions to ask. If there is more you want to say to her, make a list before you speak to her on the phone, so you can tick things of one by one.

Just another suggestion - something that was suggested to me elsewhere regarding setting my son's behaviour in context - why not find out if you can spend some time helping at school during the day to see how your son's class behave towards each other? Another question to ask the head perhaps?
Or go on the next school trip? If this is difficult to do, there should be other opportunites to see his classmates en masse at school christmas events.

missdilema Wed 20-Nov-02 18:23:12

Ks can you ask your son if he picks on other children there?Then can you speak to the other parents if so to ask their concern and see what's being done there?if he's being regularly hit I would take him to the gp for a check up and to get it on his records there.I disagree this is all part of growing up.This will cause distress and anxiety in your child if it carries on and could lead to school phobia.You will have to start getting sh**** about it if it carries on.Remember,those who make the most noise get the most done.Good luck.

GeorginaA Wed 20-Nov-02 19:12:48

The head's response made me cross too! What an extremely disappointing response from someone who is responsible for the welfare of all her charges! How dare she imply that you're just being over-anxious! Grrrr.

Keep those records, you're not overreacting. There's a bullying organisation somewhere where you can get advice, isn't there? Ah, yes, found it. Kidscape ( and there's also which has advice for parents. Make sure you keep those records, and contact the LEA if you're not happy with the school's response.

Marina Wed 20-Nov-02 19:31:07

ks, I too am sorry that this meeting was so unhelpful. I would definitely agree with asking for a copy of their policy on bullying. Is this school an independent one by any chance? We are currently weighing up the pros and cons of sending ds to a nice, small private school nearby. We liked everything about the school, its pupils and staff on our visits - but when we asked about the bullying policy, we were told that they didn't stand for it - but no document forthcoming.
I think you have every right to be concerned about your son, to monitor the bullying and to insist that the school does something about it. Good luck!

ks Wed 20-Nov-02 19:47:54

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WideWebWitch Wed 20-Nov-02 19:58:34

Ks, this sounds awful - the woman is queen of all she surveys and answerable to no-one? Aaagh! IMO she should have been reassuring you at this meeting and you should have come away feeling confident that she would deal with it professionally. Don't know what else to suggest except, as you say, keeping an eye on things, especially if you know this other boy has a history of violence. Agree that you could try calling her again tomorrow with a list of questions. I find it unreasonable that they don't have a bullying policy - as if the problem has never existed! Even our sweet tiny local school has a policy. Could you get DH to do the calling if you want to keep some distance? Let us know how you get on.

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