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Bullying, or Kids Just be Kids?

 
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My youngest daughter today told me she was getting picked on at school by kids a grade above her (2md graders while she is in 1st grade).

When she was an baby, she was playing with her sisters and fell against a Barbie Doll House. We did not know it until we went to giver her, her bottle and she started to cry. The fall had cracked her top right front tooth in 7 places, and we had to have a Pediatric Oral Surgeon remove it. Try finding one of them in Maine at 7 PM at night!

So for the last 6 years we have put up with our little gaped-toothed little Cherub, but now kids are picking on her, calling her Jack-o-Lantern at recess. She was pretty upset about it this morning, but I am not sure if she was truly upset, or just kind of tired. She was asking me questions on when her tooth would grow back in. And while none of us like being called names, it is part of school life. I do not want to be a helicopter parent, but at the same time she is my baby girl and it pains me to see her be made fun of for something that was not her fault.

The school has a pretty aggressive anti-bullying campaign, so if I say something, it might get blown out of proportion too.

Of course if someone called my daughter "Jack-O-Lantern" on this site, it would be deleted because it does not fit the "Be Nice" requirement.

This is not the best picture, but you can see the gap in her teeth from the broken tooth she had.
Adorable-child.jpg
Adorable child
Adorable child
 
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Travis,

Tough call and I see your concerns.  Were this my child I think I would say something to the school.  But it’s not my call, it is totally yours and your wife’s.

Good luck,

Eric
 
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I was bullied twice when I was in school. The first time my big sister took care of them but that won't fly in today's world. She told me that if you don't show you're bothered, they'll quit eventually. I got lots of  encouragement from her that everyone is different and why would you want to be just like everyone else. Mom put it as "if all your friends jumped off a cliff...?" That worked for the 2nd episode. I'd keep encouraging her that a lot of times different is better.

And by the way, she looks a lot like one of the granddaughters. She would just flip her hair back over her shoulder and say, "You're just jealous!"
 
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In my opinion you could chalk it up to kids being kids if it stops quickly. If it continues it becomes bullying and should be stopped. I was subjected to both while growing up and it's the day in day out that damages. Random teasing isn't fun but you get over it.

And your daughter is adorable.
 
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VERY, very soon, those 2nd graders will be losing their front teeth, too...
 
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I would try and distinguish in a couple ways.

1) Is she being teased by people who are otherwise acting like friends or friendly acquaintances, or by people who otherwise ostracize her?

2) Is she generally isolated, or included?

3) Is she generally happy, or struggling?

Some people are bullied, and it bounces off. Intervening in this sort of case, seems unlikely to be beneficial.



It may be hard to tell.. if in doubt, I would probably intervene.
 
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Carla Burke wrote: VERY, very soon, those 2nd graders will be losing their front teeth, too...

]
That's my first thought as welll. The problem may solve itself very soon.

I think whether to intervene depends first on whether the kid is upset about it, whether the kid wants you to intervene, and whether the teacher seems to care or have a handle on the class and can resolve it without blowing the whole thing out of scale. (also, is it in the cafeteria, recess, etc?)

My kid had some problems when she was older, and while my first inclination was to get all Momma Bear and start tearing people apart, she adamantly did not want any intervention. Instead we had to deal with it like people, and talked it through. How does it make you feel. What do you wish you could do. what would happen if you did xx. what would help you to stay calm instead of losing your temper, practicing counting to 10 and visualization, etc.

But seeing how much it bothers her, followed by the revelation that all those other kids will be losing their teeth (maybe with her sisters to tell her when that happened), may be enough for her to head off the teasing.
 
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I think those children lack empathy. Back in the day, I would have suggested that you teach your little one how to make a fist, and teach her about standing up for herself. I bet an old-fashioned knuckle sandwich, even from your little cherub there, would give those children some of the empathy they lack.

Nowadays, I have no clue. The way they aren't allowed to say "no" or indicate wrongdoing on the part of the aggressor seems ludicrous to me. I think that these days, we need to teach our children to handle these things on their own, giving them all the support, backing, and tools to do so as possible. If giving them a martial arts or athletic background gives them the confidence they need to deal with an often unreasonable world, so be it.

Good luck, Travis, and to your little one, too. Kids do need to learn the consequences of bad behaviour, but it sucks for the one on the receiving end. Sometimes just their knowing that you have their backs can help them resolve the situation.

You know what you're doing, though. You know to keep an eye. It's going to be a learning experience for your daughter, whatever the lesson ends up being. You get to choose, at least in part, what she takes away from it.

And I get your helicopter parenting concerns. It's easier on everyone if the situation is resolved quietly, between the kids concerned. And if you get an angry call from a parent or administrator, you can handle them as you see fit.

Good luck, in any case. "Just bullying " is a fairly antiseptic term for a social disease we learn early and sometimes never lose. We would do well to exterminate it, and vaccinate against it, to extend the metaphor.

-CK
 
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Your daughter is adorable
This one hit close to home, as a little girl i was bullied throughout my younger years for how i look. As an teen and adult i finally realized that i need to embrace my appearance for what it is and love myself for what ive got, so on and so forth. This isnt about me obviously, its about your precious daughter.
Why i wanted to respond to this is because I saw an opportunity here, and have a tidbit that may help in this specific instance. So here it is:

Jack o lanterns are COOL!! I love jack o lanterns and make a point to carve some every fall! I know that she is feeling poorly about being bullied right now because the kids are using this as a negative connotation, in order to pick on her. But what do you think about trying to turn that connotation into something positive, and something to have pride in? Like hey i love jack o lanterns theyre cool. Im no psychologist or anything but i have experience raising children (not my own, unfortunately) and i feel that i would have tried to approach it like that, in a positive light. Like, get her excited about it!
Maybe id even try to go out and find a shirt with a cool jack o lantern on it, see if she likes it, wear it to school and talk about how much she likes pumpkins and jack o lanterns. Maybe have a talk with her about how to handle the bullies (in person). It might really diffuse the situation and stop them from using this as a negative thing if they see that she has pride in herself in that way, and that it doesnt bother her.
Just an different idea to ponder. I know if kids are hell bent on just bullying someone, they may just come up with something else to make fun of her about, or change the nickname to something worse or different. Kids (and people) can be very cruel
Good luck on this one, truly
 
pollinator
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My daughter knocked her first two, and only at the time, teeth out learning to walk. For 6 years we waited for those teeth to come back in. Right now she is down 3 teeth, it's the norm for her grade, which is also first grade. Loads of gap toothed cherubs in first here.

Anyway, my daughter's teacher told her that she is just like a jack-o-latern with her 3 missing teeth. A title she's taken on with pride and something she likes to tell everyone. A personality thing I suppose. Also probably how nicely it was delivered by her teacher and not somewhat mean kids.

All that said I have had moments where she told me people were picking on her and she cried and my Mama bear came out to rip some kids apart. But, when listening to the details of it it's not really bullying just regular kids being kids and the like. I tell both my kids that sometimes kids say mean things to each other.  That they should try not to take it personally because a lot of kids have hard lives and mimic what they see. This explanation is helped a long by abuse in the family to their own cousins. So they've been able to see the change that abuse has wrought first hand. Then i tell them to treat everyone kindly because they have no idea what battle someone is fighting.

When she did mention getting "bullied" I contacted her teacher and asked about it. Our school is really great and small and close so I was greatly reassured by my talks with her teacher.
 
elle sagenev
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My Jack-o-Latern and me on our date Saturday.
Adorable-people.jpg
Adorable people
Adorable people
 
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It always upsets me to read about stuff like this.  People are a lot like chickens sometimes, capable of thoughtless cruelty to each other for no better reason than they can.  Your girl looks like an angel!

There are a lot of ways to deal with this.  If she punches a bully, she will be punished if caught, (although it's the second punch that is always seen).  Sometimes it's worth it, let her know that.  Since she's smaller, fisticuffs probably isn't the best solution.

I had a daughter that was being picked on by a 5th grader when she was a very small 1st grader, maybe kindergarten.  We found out when she came home happy that she had fixed it.  The method she came up with was very effective.  When the kid came over to pick on her she started yelling "Mommy,Mommy" (like the kid was mommy) and jumped on the kid and held on, yelling "Mommy" at the top of her lungs.  This embarrassed the 5th grader, who shook her off and ran away.  She repeated the game a time or two and after that the kid stayed the hell away from my girl.

Each person has to come up with a solution that fits their personality and situation.  If you have to get involved, then do so.  It's better if you can help her come up with a solution not involving adults.  She's going to have to deal with these kids, or kids just like them for a long time, often without adults nearby.
 
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Maybe responding with information could set it right.  If she were to explain to the offender(s?) that kids are supposed to lose their teeth and s/he will too, that might disarm the issue altogether.
 
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When my kids were little, I taught them to look at the bully and in their most "oh my god" expression and voice say, "your epidermis is showing!"* This turned the focus off the bullied and onto the bully. As Mick Fisch wrote, finding something that works based on the child and the situation is what matters. It worked for my youngest, but not so much for the eldest. Statistically, the bullied child needs surrounding students to show support and a united front for him/her, but that's not something that's likely to happen without external adult mentoring.

*epidermis is just a medical term for skin. Boys generally reacted by checking their fly.
 
Travis Johnson
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This actually ended up taking care of itself. The next day it escalated to the point where one of the second graders punched her, and so she said something to the teacher about it.
 
Tereza Okava
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Yikes on the punching.... but also yay for being the kind of kid who says something back to the bully that makes them so mad they can't control themselves. Hi-5 to your little pumpkin with such grit, and I hope this is the last you hear of it.
 
Travis Johnson
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Tereza Okava wrote:Yikes on the punching.... but also yay for being the kind of kid who says something back to the bully that makes them so mad they can't control themselves. Hi-5 to your little pumpkin with such grit, and I hope this is the last you hear of it.



Yeah, I think she has a whole lot of her dad (me) in her.

She I really quick-witted, and smart so she can come out with some zingers. We call it being "roasted" here, and she has been doing that since she was a toddler.

But that same quick-wit can get her into trouble sometimes too. It is hard to describe, she is not really "mouthy", but comes back with the zingers that you cannot dispute, so it makes you laugh, but can irritate you too. For other kids, I think there is no humor, it just irritates them.

Her zingers are so good that we started a book called "Kaelyn Quotes" when she was a toddler. Oh am I going to embarrass her on her wedding day!
 
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My daughter's tooth loosing was mostly first grade. She was later than some and ahead of others, so a first grader with a missing tooth is normal, not something to make fun of.

Fortunately, my daughter got to learn to deal with a bully at about three years old. Amazing to think some kids start the moment they talk, but that just shows how horrible that little bully's home life is and what a terrible struggle she will have her entire life. The bully tried to control, self-promote, isolate, and belittle, like all bullies.

What we did is roll play at first:  I will pretend to be the bully and call you stupid, and then you tell me "You're not allowed to call me names. " Then I will tell you I'm going to do it anyway. You will then go tell the teacher.  And so on. We talked about it a lot and spent a lot of time reviewing and decompressing from her interactions. We also talked about how sad it was for the little bully. It really helped, and there's rarely a bullying incident now.

The other thing we did: Though we valued the training that little bully provided our daughter, we noticed the school was ignoring the problem and other children with less emotional support and even those with learning disabilities (and so more defenseless) were also getting bullied. The bully was also a victim. She was saying things that indicated she was in an abusive situation at home. We as parents talking to our daughter and occasionally observing the classroom picked up on this. Where were the teachers? We brought it up with the school. They handled it poorly. The bully was basically just kicked out of the school, recieving no help and support, and the other kids were given no tools to build self-strength. We left the school shortly thereafter for this and other reasons.
 
elle sagenev
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Amit Enventres wrote:
The other thing we did: Though we valued the training that little bully provided our daughter, we noticed the school was ignoring the problem and other children with less emotional support and even those with learning disabilities (and so more defenseless) were also getting bullied. The bully was also a victim. She was saying things that indicated she was in an abusive situation at home. We as parents talking to our daughter and occasionally observing the classroom picked up on this. Where were the teachers? We brought it up with the school. They handled it poorly. The bully was basically just kicked out of the school, recieving no help and support, and the other kids were given no tools to build self-strength. We left the school shortly thereafter for this and other reasons.



I hate to be the downer here but schools are super limited on everything. When I called my nieces school to report their abuse they were really kind in asking me to just report directly to CPS. They're overloaded as is is all I'm saying.

CPS isn't much better. There aren't enough resources there either and the priority is always to give them back to the parents. It takes some serious, serious abuse to get kids taken away.

Not to be all doom and gloom about it but as someone working for an attorney that does child cases and the aunt of two kids who went through the system it's pretty dire.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have been on the other end of CPS...what we call DHS here which is, Dept of Human Services. In my case I was a foster parent, and grew up in a foster home.

It was hard. My first and only foster child had a mom, about an inch away from my face, scream at the top of her lungs demanding what I was for a parent and if I had morals. Spit and everything came with the words. I just had to take it, but I just wanted to say in reply, "well I am not a wife still married to her husband who raped his 14 year old daughter, shared her with his buddies, while you watched." All I could do was be called every name in the nasty, name calling book while my morals were judged by an irate, phycho parent.

We live in a broken world.

When my parents first became foster parents most of the abuse was from neglect, homelessness, or physical abuse. Now 9 out of 10 kids it is sexual abuse. Too bad...

I do not have any answers. ;-(
 
Carla Burke
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Travis Johnson wrote:This actually ended up taking care of itself. The next day it escalated to the point where one of the second graders punched her, and so she said something to the teacher about it.



Holy moley! I'm so sorry, Travis!
 
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It's funny how we allow ourselves to be bullied for things that are simple truths. I was called "four eyes" at times thru my young life and to tell y'all the truth, I accepted it as a dig/slur/... when it never even made any sense to me. I think kids should be trained to accept hurtful things with a "yeah, you're totally right" kind of attitude because really, we all know what bullying is about. It's not about helpfulness or even truth so teach your children just to accept it in a flippant, "I could care less" kind of manner. The bully would be floored if Travis's young daughter said casually and confidently, "yeah, you're right!, Cool observation."

By the by, Travis, she's a doll!!!

 
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Tell the school, racism is not something that we as a nation let slide & it is time that Bulling gose that way too. Your child needs to have thick skin to face a mean world.
But bulling is not the answer, thick skin is your job, not older kids in school. Also joking & playing can get out of hand, the different should be explain to the older children.
Tell the adminstion that explaining sould be used first in a no name group setting, then on a one on one basics, if the group setting dose not work.
The fact is this should have been handled by them in the begining of each school year.
 
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