On Dealing With Little Bullies

Yesterday when I picked up my daughter from school, she was quieter than usual. I could tell something was bothering her.
“How was school?” I asked.
“I can’t remember.” She responded.
Not the answer I wanted to hear. In the pit of my stomach, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t want to push the issue, so I thought I’d allow her to unwind from her day before I asked any more questions.
Later that afternoon, I was in my room finishing up some things for work. She started to scream at her brother and had a bit of a meltdown. I had no choice but to put her on time out for her behavior. After she had served her time (ha) I asked her to sit down next to me so we could discuss her behavior towards her brother. I couldn’t help but think that her behavior was related to whatever it was that may have happened at school. Before I could get a word out of my mouth, She threw herself into my lap and started to cry.
I asked her what was wrong.
“B and I were being mean to me at school.”
“What did they do?” I asked.
“They kept pushing me in the chest and making me sit in the wood chips.”
I could feel the anger sweep over my entire body. I asked some more questions, she gave me more details. She said she ran away but they followed her.
“Did you tell the teacher? The proctor?”
“No. I was too embarrassed and scared.” She replied.
I had to take a few deep breaths.
“Tomorrow, you need to tell the proctor and you need to tell your teacher. And if they put their hands on you again, you need to tell them TO GET THEIR HANDS OFF OF YOU.”
She started to cry again.
“But I don’t want to go to school tomorrow. I’m afraid they’ll hurt me again, Mommy.”
Heart, broken.
I’ve always tried to let my children figure things out first. I don’t want to jump into help solve their problems, I want them to learn to handle things on their own. I want them to be able to fight their own battles, so to speak. However, there are times where I have to step in. There are situations that require for me to step in and do something. I feel like this is one of those times. I feel like this is a situation that can and most likely will escalate if I don’t intervene now. Maybe it was a one time thing, but then, maybe not. Either way, I feel like I need to speak up RIGHT NOW so that things are handled right away.
Today, I will walk my daughter to class. I will tell her to go play while I talk to the proctor, keeping my eye on her all the while. I will tell the proctor what happened. Then, I will make my way to the classroom to tell the teacher what happened. Then, I was stand back and watch my daughter play from a distance to make sure no one puts their hands on her. And if they do? That’s where I’m going to need the Lord God Almighty to sweep me up with his strong, loving arms and hold me back. Because, you know, RAGE.
If you’ve had a child who has suffered at the hand of Little Bullies, I would love to hear how you handled the situation. Any advice you have to offer would be appreciated.

35 thoughts on “On Dealing With Little Bullies

  1. dawn

    I’m going to have to blog a response, because it’s too long. But I think you’re doing exactly the right thing. Empower her, but also, in kindergarten? Tell an authority figure what’s happening so they are aware and vigilant, too.

  2. Marinka

    You did exactly the right thing. You listened to your daughter, you validated her feelings, you encouraged her to speak up for herself and when she was not ready to do that, you talked to the adults in order to protect her.
    I think it’s awesome that your daughter knows that she can come to you, even if she’s embarrassed and scared.
    It pisses me off that kids are bullied in plain sight of the teachers. If it’s under the radar, they need to get a better radar.

  3. Issa

    I have to agree with Dawn. I think you are doing all the right things. i think that at 5 years old, G isn’t quite old enough to be able to deal with it herself. At that age, she needs you to intervene and the teachers as well. Maybe it’s time for the anti-bully talk in the classroom? Just because they should know not to push, doesn’t mean all of them do yet.
    Sigh. It’s always sad to me that it starts this early.

  4. Jennifer

    I would probably do all that you did too. I have told my 7 year old that if anybody starts a fight she has my permission to finish it. I do not care what the consequences are as far as the school is concerned. I will tell them that I believe my child has the right to defend herself. She just started Karate a few weeks ago and knows some basic punches.
    I was kind of a runt in elementary school and my mom always worried about people picking on me. She gave me the same advice and I think knowing that it would be OK for me to defend myself was enough for me not to be a target. Does that make sense?
    If *I* was the instigator to a fight, there would have been hell to pay for. This was made very clear to me by my parents.

  5. Overflowing Brain (Katie)

    I don’t have kids. But I was the kid that was bullied for years.
    Kids almost never had a hand laid on me, but honestly, the words hurt so much worse. I was called fat, and ugly and all kinds of horrible words (I remember clearly asking my teacher what a tub of lard was one day because I didn’t even understand).
    The people in my life didn’t deal well with it. My mom went to the school (hell, she worked at my school), but the principal told my mom that I brought it on myself. That it was my fault I was being bullied and it left my mom with no recourse. She spoke to the parents who denied that their kids were doing anything. My teacher was oblivious and every time I told her I was being bullied, I got my color card flipped for tattling.
    This went on for years.
    When I got to 5th grade, I switched schools. And one of the bullies switched with me. But a funny thing happened the first time she opened her mouth to bully me- our teacher stopped my classmate dead in her tracks. She let her know that there would be absolutely no bullying ever again.
    And there wasn’t. My former bullies attended the same middle and high school and we never had problems.
    I don’t know the answer, but don’t give up. You have to fight for her. Because she probably won’t remember a day of bullying, but someday she may be 26 years old and in tears from thinking about the years of being told she was fat and ugly when no one could do anything to help.

  6. MomZombie

    When my oldest was in fifth grade she suddenly became the the target of a Mean Girls campaign. She’d always been well-liked before so I knew there was something going on. I didn’t wait long. I talked to her teacher in a private conference and let him know that this needed to be resolved, that I would not sit back on this. I was lucky in that the teacher was great. He looked into it and we learned that because my daughter landed a sought-after role in the high school play (they needed some young children roles) and the other girls who tried out did not, they started harassing her. This was some nasty sh***t for fifth grade, let me tell you. It took a little while but the matter was resolved. We ended up in a meeting with the principal, her teacher and the school counselor. Separate meetings of the same nature were held with the parents of the other girls involved.
    Like I said, we had a happy ending and it’s because the school district jumped right on it. It’s not just defending your child, it’s holding the keepers of your children accountable.

  7. sarah's dandelions

    you are doing EXACTLY what i would do. bullies are very serious, and need to know they can’t get away with that kind of behavior. if our children don’t feel safe… there is a problem!
    a very good friend of mine has a daughter who has been the victim of “mean girls” the “mean girls” went as far as scratching up their backs and telling the teacher my friends daughter did it. unfortunately for her daughter, the teacher believed them. i learned from watching this situation unfold that if the teacher doesn’t support your child, your child is in trouble. my friend ended up pulling her daughter out of the school… that school wasn’t worth how it made her daughter feel about herself every single day.
    and i think that was the best thing she could have done for her, she is so much happier now.
    hopefully it won’t come to that for your daughter… your stepping in right away and hopefully that will ‘nip it in the bud’
    good luck!!

  8. Headless Mom

    I know the feeling. Our teachers and proctors are pretty good about handling stuff like this in K. Oh, and don’t forget to tell the proctor “A” (head proctor) what has been going on-she’ll watch for sure.

  9. Meg

    There is craziness in the wind this week, I think. I literally just dealt with this Tuesday for my daughter. She’s in 3rd grade and let me tell you, girl bullies that age are devious and manipulative. Best friends one day and evil the next. My sensitive little girl was getting whiplash. We dealt with the same girl, same situation two years ago in 1st grade.
    The day she came home crying, I sent an email to the principal and teacher. Had meetings with everyone, including the main recess aide the next day. Most ridiculous thing? This week all the classes are talking about bullying and harassment. The bully has been told to stay away (physically) from my daughter until after the holidays. They are not to talk or even stand next to each other. All aides throughout the school are aware of this and enforced it yesterday at recess when the bully “accidentally” lined up behind my daughter.
    Teachers can’t see everything, it’s up to the parents to let them know what’s going on and how it’s affecting their children. Everyone I talked to was very appreciative of me letting them know and made changes instantly. I sincerely hope you have the same results.

  10. Mr Lady

    Dude. DUDE.
    I’ve been there. It’s sooo hard. What I’d tell you is that A) you did the right thing B) it’s completely okay to teach her and encourage her to physically defend herself. I find most bullies will pick on the kid who has enough common sense to know that hitting is wrong, and therefore won’t fight back.
    The second time my kid was accosted at school, I taught him how to throw a punch. A GOOD punch. i explained that he is never, ever to hit someone unless he gets hit first. Once someone lays their hands on you, I told him, you have full right to protect your person and I will fully support you in it.
    He’s never had to use that punch, but he’s also a little more confident because I gave him some power in the situation. That’s the trick, giving her some power. Maybe it’s teaching her how to defend herself, or maybe it’s as simple as making sure she SEES you handle the situation. If she knows that momma isn’t going to take this crap, she knows she’ll be okay.
    Or you could just do what I do and chase those kids down one fine summer day after school, swear at them very loudly in several different languages, and, you know, generally scare the holy fuck out of them. Maybe not moral, but it’s effective. And it feels really good.

  11. Andra

    I would have handled it the exact same way! My daughter is in preschool and there have been situations where I believed bullying was taking place. I immediately contacted the teacher who seemed to be very thankful for the opportunity to correct the behavior. However, I also have let my daughter know that she needs to do the following: tell the child to immediately stop what he or she is doing, if the child does not stop to go tell the teacher, if the child still does not stop the bullying my daughter is to put an end to it herself. I believe my exact words were: “You do not ever start a fight, but you need to finish it!” I am not advocating violence in the least, but I do believe children need to set boundaries for themselves within the daily interactions they have with their peers. I do not want my daughter growing up feeling like a victim.

  12. Leah

    You are doing the right thing. My oldest was bullied in elementary and I went to the teacher, the parent, the principal. My youngest now in elementary gets bullied on occasion. We tell her to stand up for herself but she is just to nice and loving little girl. She came home one of the times and said that she was told that she was only allowed to play with these two girls on Monday and the rest of the week they had to leave them alone. They have said alot of ugly things to her and “accidently” scratched her. I have talked to the parents also. I would be lying if I said that i didn’t give the little kids a harsh look or if I caught them doing it I would say that that was NOT okay. You know put a little fear into them.

  13. Denise

    I wish I had some magical advice for you. But, I don’t because I am looking for some of my own. My daughter is in K and gets picked on as well. I think it is because she is “the new kid”. I had to stop letting her ride the bus because the kids were chanting “fight, fight, fight” when a 2nd grader picked on her. It’s awful when kids are picked on… My heart is breaking right along with you.

  14. Susie Q

    you did the right thing. My son is also in Kindergarten and was being teased by two kids (not physical, just being teased). We told him it was ok to tell us and the teacher if necessary and that he didn’t have to put up with that. We validated his feelings and let him know that he could stand up for himself.
    We gave him a few different options of how to handle the situation (telling the boys to stop and that he wouldn’t be playing their game, ignoring them etc.) He chose the path that was right for him. It’s since stopped and now the boys are being nice to him. But this bullying stuff…man, it makes the mama bear come out!

  15. Aunt Becky

    Totally was there with my son and I had to have the school step in and intervene. They ended up suspending the little assbag and it stopped. We switched schools for another reason entirely, but it stopped.
    The good news is that kids have a short attention span and will stop picking on her soon. I’m really sorry, Y. I’m really sorry. It kills me.

  16. Mamapajama

    My advice is a little different than the other comments I’ve read here. When my oldest son was in 2nd grade, he was being bullied by a 4th grade boy. My son has two good friends that he’s been chummy with since Kindergarten so this is what I told him to do the next time the older boy tried to pick on him. I told him to talk to his friends about the bully ahead of time and tell them about his (my) plan of action. If the bully started picking on him, my son AND his friends would stand up together to tell the bully to back off! Funny how that “tough” bully backed right down when he understood that my son had people on his side willing to stand up for him. The bully didn’t bother him again, thank goodness. I’ve always told my boys to not be afraid of bullys and to stand up, not only for themselves, but for others being picked on as well. We are not a religious family, but I have always pressed the “do unto others” creed into them.
    Believe me, I’m a MamaBear myself and it breaks my heart when my kids are hurt, physically or emotionally by other kids. Since G is so young, you are doing right by going to the school and informing them of the situation. We have to protect our kids as best we can, right?

  17. Chibi Jeebs

    As many others have said, you did the right thing: G’s not old enough to handle this on her own just yet. That being said, thank you for being aware and stepping in – no one stepped in for me, mostly because I did my best to keep it hidden (somehow *I* felt ashamed that I was being bullied). *hugs*

  18. mel

    With her being young, I think you did the right thing. My daughter is in 4th grade now and was the new girl at school last year and so some of the old friends bullied her to keep her out of the groups. I’ve taught her growing up that rather than “tattling” which they are so afraid to do, speak up for yourself but speaking up.
    So if they were at their desks and one was kicking her she would speak up loudly so everyone could here her say “L stop kicking me” or at lunch when a girl would take grab her strawberries she would stand up and do the same thing so that everyone could see also see where the problem was happening.
    I’m a true believer in speaking to the teachers, but once they get to a certain age they don’t want to be “embarrassed” by their parents as she says. I’ve taught her to speak up to her friends about things that they may do to make her feel bad or if they are picking on anyone else or speaking about kids behind their back because YES I can’t believe it’s happening already at this age but it is.
    also, the american girl books help and their movie Chrissa. I know your little one is young now, but I recommend them as she grows.
    you did good mama.

  19. Jen

    My four year old just told me two days ago that there is a boy in her class who pushes and “smacks” her. I told her if it happens again she needs to put her hands up and using a loud voice say “Stop! I don’t like that!” and then tell the teacher what happened. Then the little sweetheart broke my heart when she said sometimes he pushes her in the hallway and she can’t tell him to stop because when they’re in the hallway she has to use her “little voice” so they don’t bother the other kids. I gave her permission to use her loud voice in the hallway if someone pushes her. Then I talked to her teacher and let her know what was going on. Honestly, my gut reaction was to go to school and smack the little bully myself.

  20. Y

    You are all so wonderful and kind to share your experiences with me. It’s so helpful.
    All went well with the teacher and proctor. She had a much better day. We’re talking a lot about standing up for yourself and speaking out when someone puts their hands on you. Hopefully, it will work and this will not happen again.
    Fingers crossed.

  21. Karen Sugarpants

    Dylan was once choked on the school bus by a kid his age. The school was alerted and even though the other kid was “only joking,” there was a serious talk with the kid & his parents, then the kid was suspended for 3 days. The kid was actually a good kid and was kidding, and was shaken and upset by the suspension. That was grade 3.
    Dylan later stood up for a kid that was being picked on.
    Thomas was once bullied a bit at the hockey rink by a kid a year older than him. I walked in on the scene as it was happening and I told that little f*cker to go tell his mom what he had done right now or I would, in a very stern voice. I know his mom, and we talked after. I think I scared him. LOL! He had it coming tho.
    It takes a village, I swear. Good luck!

  22. Tiffany

    I had to deal with this in 3rd grade for my oldest daughter, she was being bullied and picked on because of her back issues, she had just come back from christmas break and was less than 2 weeks from a major back surgery and bawled before school one day…..I went in with my wild hair and pajamas on and set the world straight on that. Told that if so much as a hair on her precious head was touched I was pulling a lawsuit and they as a district werent going to like the financial repercussions. It was taken care of that morning.
    It is so hard when your kids are getting bullied and picked on…..i have a hard time with my oldest at 10 to not step in. I have been known to call them little fuckers to my kids about other kids..ugg.
    I think you did the right thing!

  23. Carrie @ Who Knew

    Good for you for being proactive. Bullying is not something that should be ignored. As a teacher I have seen some bad things happen. Nip it in the bud.
    As a mother I swear I think I would kick those girls in their heads.
    Good luck.

  24. Shylah

    I think talking to her teacher is the best thing you can do. When Emily was in first grade, she started harrassing me ALL THE TIME about having strawberries for her snack. She was relentless. When I finally asked her why she wanted them so badly, she said, “Because M is allergic to them and won’t try to take them away from me.” Turns out, this kid was taking her snack every day, and when Em discovered the girl was allergic to strawberries, she came up with her own solution.
    I talked to her teacher about it, and found out that M has a really awful home life. And she never comes to school with a snack or enough lunch money. After my initial anger towards her, I felt sorry enough for her that I went out and bought her a big box of snacks for the teacher to give her each day. The teacher also talked to her, and we never had trouble again.

  25. Michelle

    Considering how young these kids are I think you did the right thing. My 7 year old daughter got picked on over the summer at day camp. We talked to the counselors and they kept an eye on things from a distance but I also encouraged my daughter to try and be as kind hearted as she could to the bully thinking that if someone responds to unkindness with kindness it’s not so much fun to pick on them. We started with compliments, “I like your hair today, I like your shoes, Cool picture you’re drawing”. It wasn’t easy for her but she did it and by the end of the week they’d made peace and my daughter even found some things she liked about this kid.

  26. Laura

    My friend’s little boy bullies my daughters. He is 3. My girls are 2 and 5. He hits them, pushes them down, pulls their hair, and even bit one of them on the butt once. My friend laughs it off, “He’s just being a boy” and “Oh come on! You have to admit that it was funny when he bit her on the butt!”
    One day I had had enough! Enough of him beating on my kids. Enough of her not doing anything about her out-of-control son. So I grabbed him by the face, slammed him against the wall and yelled, “If you ever touch one of my girls again, I will beat the crap out of you! Don’t touch them!”
    I’m a total grown up, you know. I think your approach is probably a lot better than mine.

  27. Kat

    I was bullied for YEARS, starting in kindergarten, and all my parents ever did was say “ignore it and it will stop.” It never did. I was miserable. To this day, I take it incredibly personally when someone doesn’t like me, and I’m completely non-confrontational with anyone with whom I’m friendly, because I’m afraid that if I disagree with someone that they suddenly won’t like me, and “they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends…” and so on and I’ll wind up just as lonely and miserable as I was when I was a child.
    When I stop to think how different my life might have been if my parents had treated the situation differently… *sigh*
    So, on behalf of miserable, lonely children everywhere, THANK YOU for sticking up for your daughter.

  28. Nicki

    Yes, we are mother lions when it comes to our children.
    In fifth grade, there was a girl who pulled Rachel’s hair and tripped her and was pretty much just mean and nasty to her every chance she had ALL DAY LONG. So we went to the principal, the very same day we found out, since the teacher had already left for the day.
    Her school had a no tolerance policy on bullying. And we pretty much asked that the principal enforce it. He pulled the bully aside the next morning to talk to her, explain that she needed to tow the line…and
    Really, she transferred to another school because of the situation. And we all lived happily ever after.
    Oh, and now my daughter is the one who sticks up for other kids. I’m so very proud of her.
    Good luck. And don’t leave us hanging. I’m dying to know how it turns out.

  29. Lisa

    My 2 year old son started refusing to be dropped off at daycare and screaming when he realized that’s where we were going. He stopped sleeping at night and would wake up crying. I knew something was bothering him because 1) he always loved daycare and his teacher and frankly it hurt my feelings a little how he would always leave me without even a backwards glance and 2) he’d always been an all night sleeper without a peep. Around the same time, my husband called me one evening while I was still at work saying that he had picked K up from daycare on his way home and was told he’d been bitten by another child and had to sign an incident report about it. I thought “Welll….those kids are at the age, so I guess it’s not too big of a deal.”
    However…when I got home and was taking his clothes off for his bath I found 5 other bites. FIVE! On his back, his shoulders, his upper arms and his lower back. I freaked out. I immediately called the daycare and spoke to the director who assured me they were not aware that he’d been bitten so many times. And of course, to take the blame off of her said that she couldn’t write a report about them. I dressed my son, took him up there and asked her to take pictures of the bites. This happened, over the course of 2 months, several times. It got to the point where I would strip K down to his diaper before leaving the daycare so we could check him for any hidden bites.
    Long story short….they had a 3 1/2 year old in his class due to being over ratio in another class and this 3 1/2 year old was picking on K because he wouldn’t fight back. The teacher’s were so wrapped up in other goings on that they never even noticed. We eventually pulled my son out of this center because I felt that if my son could be bitten THAT many times in a day and no one noticed, then the supervision wasn’t all that great. And I also wasn’t impressed with the response from the director about how to handle it. Sad part is, this is a very well known center that is supposed to be a great place to take your kids.

  30. jessica

    when my son started first grade, i signed him up for Rookie baseball. He was THRILLED. this kid had about a million different balls at home because that was all he was interested in. He couldn’t wait to play! After the first few games, he started to act very strange. He would be completely psyched to play when we were heading to his games. But the minute we got there, he would complain that his stomach hurt. We left a couple of games early due to the “stomach aches”. i even took him to a GI specialist thinking something was wrong with him because his stomach bothered him so much. Nothing was wrong. So one morning he was acting as his usual bouncy self on the way to his game. When we got there, his stomach hurt. He fought me the whole way to the field. I finally pulled him aside and told him that he needed to tell me what was bothering him because I was not going to do this at every game. It turned out that a boy on the team would pick on him and one other boy during every practice and game.
    Right then i decided that i needed to do something. there was no way i was allowing some little brat to ruin my son’s desire to play a game he loved so much. i pulled one of the coaches aside, with my son standing next to me, and explained the situation. This coach then pulled the team manager aside and explained it to him. They were really great about it. I don’t know what it was that they did to curb the bullying but from that day on, the little brat never said another mean word to my son. As a matter of fact, they were on the same team the next year and got along just fine.
    So, Y, you definitely did the right thing. Kids should definitely learn to handle things on their own, but there are certain times, especially when they are young, that we need to step in to make sure that our kids are safe and happy. after all, that’s our goal everyday. and anyone who tries to get in the way of that deserves a mother’s wrath. :-)

  31. teresa

    My son was picked on in 6th grade. It was physical and emotional and I was so mad. I calmed down and realized how sad and twisted this kids life must be for him to treat people so mean (this was confirmed by the principal). So I went to school everyday for a few weeks and sat with this kid at lunch. I talked to him, charmed him and even treated him to ice cream. He was rude and ignored me at first…but after a few days I had made a new little friend. He just needed some compassion and positive attention. My son is now in the 9th grade (never had another moments problem) and this kid is his friend.

  32. girlplease

    I’m not there yet as a parent but as a child back in the 80s when kids were hit by teachers, I can tell you what happened and why a little bit of me misses the ‘old days’.
    I was in 4th grade with a male gym teacher hardass. He didn’t like how I did a summersault so he punched me in the stomach. Yes a 40 something year old grown man punched a 9 year old GIRL in the stomach. I said nothing, held in the tears/fear, and moved on.
    One of the students told their parents who then called up my parents and told them. I was terrified it was my fault, didn’t tell, didnt want to tell except I let out a fearful ‘yes he did’.
    So my dad, being the ever so violent/protective man that he was, went to the guy’s house (he lived across the street). And needless to say he handled things his way–the old school Italian way.
    The teacher never showed up to the school again. He quit.
    I found out years later my dad beat the crap out of him and scared him to death. I’m guessing death threats that with my father’s temper, you believed.
    Flashforward to the summer of this year when I brought my then 7 month old to the park. I saw these little boys play together then get mean to this little boy–name calling and shoving him. I looked at my son and that little moment of my dad came over me.
    It’s going to be ultra hard not to beat the shit out of people when it’s time for my son to go to school.
    Do your best. The world is different on all fronts. You can’t go punching people like you could back in the day. Part of me hates that too because some people deserve to get a beatdown for being a bully.

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