Band-back-together-world-tourSo Pranksters, it’s time for the March Edition of the BB2G: Bringing Happy Back World Tour, which is like New Years Resolutions except awesome (New Years Resolutions = Bullshit).

So get your glorious asses over there and join up. Mostly because you get that glorious badge. Which isn’t QUITE as awesome as the Best Picture on the Internet, but close.

Dear Aunt Becky,

How should I handle a little effin’ biotch who recently made my sweet angel cry at school?

My daughter is nine and has a heart of gold. Everyone she meets always compliments me on her lovely sweet personality and how she would not hurt a fly. Well yesterday, she told me about a girl at school who say behind her in assembly and made some really nasty comments about my child, calling her an ugly cry-baby with a big head!

My child just doesn’t understand this type of cruelty. She made me so sad when she looked at me confused and said “but Mommy, she doesn’t even know me!”

Please help, I’m so incensed with rage I’m trying hard not to head out and find this little shit and pinch her effin’ head off!

If there’s anything that pisses me off more than bullying, I’m not sure what it is. Do you remember when we were kids and we had kids that were total assjackets to us and the answer was pretty much a standard *shrugs* “kids will be kids?

I do.

Or, at least, I remember my brother going through it. He’s a lot older than me and I’ll never forget watching my big brother – my strong, smart, tough big brother, who I thought the world revolved around – as he was tormented, endlessly mocked and beaten down, because he had a stutter. Oh yeah, bullies and I, we’re like peas in a pod. If peas in a pod want to watch each other burn to death in a fiery blaze of bullets.

Anyway.

Yeah, so back then, no one dealt with bullies. Now? The schools take bullying more seriously. AS THEY SHOULD.

My eldest was the target of a bully in Kindergarten and the school actually ended up suspending the child after the bullying continued. Ben’s emotional range isn’t quite as normal as a typical child (he’s autistic) so when he was being bullied, he was less upset and more confused by the whole situation. I, of course, was the one who was flaming pissed. Ben’s about as kind and gentle as they come.

So, what do you do about it?

Well, first, I’d try and talk to your daughter about what happened with the girl, let her know that it’s not her fault, and that you are, of course, 100% on her side. Kids don’t always know that you’re on their side unless you SAY it, and if you’re acting angry, sometimes they think that you’re angry at THEM.

Tell your daughter to talk to an adult the next time it happens. A teacher, you, another parent, a sibling, anyone. She needs to tell an adult that she’s having problems with a bully.

The second thing she can learn to do is to stand up for herself without getting upset. The bully wants to get the victim upset. Tell your daughter to not let the bully see her respond emotionally. She doesn’t have to be an asshole back to the bully, but she doesn’t have to take whatever the bully is throwing out lying down. She can respond with a joke back or a firm, “Whatever,” and then get out of the situation. If the bully doesn’t get the reaction that she wants, she’ll stop doing it.

If she can learn to do that (which is extremely hard, I know) it will do wonders to foster her self-esteem down the road.

The third thing she can learn to do is to stand up for others who may be targeted by bullies. Sometimes, you just need SOMEONE on your side. I think every single one of us understands how THAT feels.

As for you, Prankster, I’d call the school if the bullying persists and see what their policy on bullying is. I imagine that your school now has some policy on bullying in place, what with all of the proof that bullying in the early days leads to all kinds of problems in later life.

Now, I’m giving you the link to a book that an actual online friend (I have friends? WOAH) wrote about bullies. He sent me a copy which I gave to my nine-year old son, Ben (the one who’d been bullied) and Ben has read it no less than 879 times. Seriously, he loves it.

It’s called The Skinny on Bullying and it’s been heartily endorsed by my son. So, there you have it.

Now, Pranksters, I know you’re going to have a honking buttload of better information than I do to give this Prankster, so please, share away.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

18 Responses to Go Ask Aunt Becky

  • I am never quite sure how to word what I feel about this topic. Being parent to a child who has been on both sides of the spectrum (picked on and the picker), it’s difficult to explain. First of all, I think the word “bully” is overused and should be saved for ongoing harassers. That type of mistreatment is in a class of its own and deserves the serious respect that it requires. When a child is picked on, though, is a little different and I tend to try to put it in a different frame of mind. I ask questions of myself, my child and the other kid involved: what is their home life like? Were they being mistreated a few minutes ago and were reacting to that same picking on? Is the picker someone who struggles academically/socially/etc. and is looking for some way to elevate him/herself above someone else? It’s the worst part of human nature that we feel the need to put others down in order to elevate ourselves. It sucks. It takes maturity and kindness to realize that your beauty/talent/good fortune does not take away from my own qualities; that attempting to knock you down does not, in turn, lift me up. If the situation is truly just one girl talking badly about your daughter in one assembly, I would suggest using it as a learning experience. We cannot become strong women if we are not forced to exercise our muscles – both physical and emotional.

    My heart goes to your daughter and all children who are ever made to feel less than the wonderful kids they all are: “Bullies” included.

  • I agree with the comment above. The simple fact is that kids say mean things; whether they’re bullying or lashing out. Also, nothing personal here, but kids sometimes misrepresent certain conversations to their parents. I remember hearing a child explain to a parent who was a friend of mine how she was picked on. Later, my daughter who was there and was the same age said “that’s not what happened at all”. The important thing is not to overreact and to teach your child to stand up for themselves.

    The times I’ve seen the parents fight the battle for the kids, it’s caused a great disservice to those children.

    And that…is my opinion.

  • Joy says:

    Tracey – awesome comment with great perspective. There are shades and nuances for sure. And kindness and empathy are difficult to learn and teach.

    Aunt Becky – I appreciated your advice, too. My son at almost 9 is an occasional target of someone, but so is everyone else in the vicinity of this child. It’s about the child’s self-esteem and desire for attention and quick laughs (although it occurs at the expense of someone else). (See, we’re lucky enough to know pretty much all of the kids and their parents on some level, thanks to (very) small town life, so I know this to be true.) It is about nuance and emotional growth and the personal sensitivities of each child involved. All this to say: Thank you for your wise and calm answer, Aunt Becky! I’ll be purchasing a copy (or two) of the book, to share with my children and likely the school. :)

  • Pam says:

    Let me just mention that I can’t even remember how many times (and it’s a lot) that I’ve witnessed kids coming up to tell teachers about someone bullying them and, before it’s out of the kids’ mouths, the teachers say: I don’t want to hear it. It’s not that I don’t understand the fact that there are tattle-tales out there, but I do think it’s important to LISTEN to what the kids are trying to say…even if it’s a repeat ‘teller’ of the tales. That being said, I agree that the mom should call the school to alert them and talk with the teacher as well. And make sure that if the child goes to the teacher that mom finds out exactly what the teacher’s reaction was. There was only one incident in our experience when our DD1 was 9 and I just happened to be there for recess. The other girls didn’t see me but I saw and heard them. I stepped out and told them that this was the LAST time they were going to talk like that to my child and if it happened one more time, I was going to their parents. They were just the sweetest things after that.

  • Peggy Brister says:

    I wouldn’t say calling her an ugly cry-baby with a big head is anywhere in the ballpark of bullying. Some of you may view this differently than I do but CONSTANT AND LONG TERM harrassment is bullying. Getting punched in the side of your skull, like my son did, or getting jumped by 2 boys in the bathroom or getting pissed on by another kid, all like my son did, that’s bullying. Kids are going to call each other names. Even good kids do it sometimes. Idiot! Moron! Cry baby! That’s not bullying. That’s just needing a thicker skin. If a group of kids were doing it to one kid or if that one kid did it constantly like every day then I would worry about it. How are you going to react when it is your sweet angel that calls someone else a name someday? And she will. They all do. Will you be so enraged with her you will want to pich her head off too?

    • Maddy says:

      I’m 100% with Peggy here. “Ugly crybaby…” is not bullying. It’s normal behavior that all of us children of the 70s and 80s went through. I think that being able to deal with insults and move on is an important part of childhood. We are raising a generation of thin skinned kids who aren’t taught to stand up for themselves and that’s a shame. Life is full of difficult situations and we can’t cry and go tell on someone every time our feelings are hurt. Of course the kid who did the name calling should be spoken to, but what I fear is that many wonderful kids are being hauled into the principal’s office and slapped with the “bully” label. I think zero tolerance policies have replaced common sense.

      Peggy – I’m so sorry about the torment your son suffered. I hope those punks were punished. Severly.

  • Kate says:

    As someone who was pretty relentlessly teased/bullied in elementary school (I once got a bloody nose running into the wall in the gym after a particularly bad incident because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see) I would avoid suggesting to your daughter that she respond back with a joke. People told me to do that all the time and it only made it worse because I could never think of a joke in the moment and thus felt like I wasn’t able to respond “correctly.” So, unless your daughter is the kind of kid who is cracking wise all the time (and it doesn’t sound like she is) I would stay away from that. The classic “whatever” look followed by completely ignoring the bully/teaser is much easier to pull off and less likely to get your kid in trouble (if a teacher notices her talking instead of the bully when they’re supposed to be quiet for example).

    So, my advice is to ignore it/give the “whatever” look in the moment and then report it to a teacher at the earliest appropriate moment (like after she’s back in her class after the assembly). Trust me, if this kid is picking on random kids that she doesn’t even know than the office is already familiar with this behavior. The more reports there are the more likely the school is going to take serious action so even if your daughter never interacts with this kid again make sure the school knows exactly what happened (preferably in writing).

  • andygirl says:

    I’m saving this post for when I’m a mom. because if I don’t? I suspect I’d do what Nicki on Big Love did and go bully the bully. yeah you can tell I’m not a mom.

  • Johi says:

    I am by no means suggesting this, but I was being bullied by a boy in elementary school and I stopped it by shoving him off the (metal) merry-go-round onto the (concrete pad) ground below. Yes, he bled, and he stopped picking on me after that. See? I’m full of useless information.

  • Lanita says:

    In my day, I never told anybody. I guess I didn’t think my parents cared that I was terrorized at school by a girl one year older then me. Fortunately, I learned from my experience and listen to my daughters whenever they come home with a story of a bully. Thank God for open communication between kids, parents and the schools.

  • Sarah S
    Twitter: RunningonWords
    says:

    It’s really hard to walk the fine line between letting your child handle their own problems and not letting bullying get out of hand. Hopefully this was an isolated incident and it will pass, but it things get worse or this child targets your child repeatedly, you may have to step in. I hope that it was a one time thing and your little girl will bounce back soon.

  • Karen V. says:

    I think Aunt Becky’s advice is the best. I am amazed by the variety of responses to this question. Personally, I think “thick skin” does not develop until years after the events that caused it to develop in the first place. And it does not come without a price of lost self-esteem, depression, sadness, distraction from the focus of school work, etc. Also, I do not think that letting bullying go until it develops into a pattern or until physical or emotional damage is done is the right way to handle it- ever. Even a comment which is not racial or otherwise discriminatorily based can be a test water for escalation.

    I think telling a person at the school and a parent and letting the parent know how that teacher responded is vital and important. To let things go can, and does lead to escalation that results in physical and emotional scarring which could have been avoided. That is all.

  • Kristy says:

    Argh, this is always tough. No one ever wants their child to be the target of bullying. I work at a school, and let me tell you, I really do think it’s a problem, and many times, adults really don’t know what to do about it. I’m glad you had good support for your kinder guy. I would suggest to parents to trust your gut. If you think something is wrong, talk to the building administrators. I may sound dramatic but I think every single school should have some kind of social curriculum/anti-bullying thing going on that is embraced as important by the whole staff and community.

    http://www.pampersandpinot.com

  • katrina says:

    Odd….most comments reflect the idea that this is not bullying. I think, if it made someone cry…it is NOT acceptable. Yes, often “the bully” has many problems, (being mistreated or abused), and i’m not saying to ignore that. But if we ignore (condone) the unacceptable behavior we are doing a disservice to them also. They need to learn that it is not ok in society to act in this way. As a teacher of middle and high school students, my rule was “verbal abuse will be dealt with as seriously as physical abuse.” Words are powerful–sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can break your heart.

  • Krissa says:

    Beck, I think you hit the nail on the head! Great advice and I hope every parent reading this takes away the information needed to help their kid, whether or not that child is a bully or a victim.

  • monica says:

    this is so close to my heart. my daughter is the only different pre-teen in a sea of homogenousness and it has been difficult. i am so frustrated by the term ‘bullying’ and ‘anti-bullying’ policies. we’ve had a problem with one girl who has an awful home life. when she and her friends called my daughter names, there wasn’t much i could do about it. but when they chased her home from school, i called the police. when they pinned my daughter under the seat on the bus trying to kick her, i waited in the principal’s office until he couldn’t pretend he was too busy and i called the police. and with the latest round of name calling, she now has a restraining order and cannot come within 100 meters of my blessed daughter.

    this has been a terrible experience. but my daughter has come through it and she knows that i have her back no matter what. she also knows that this girl is a sad person without a mom to back her up. i think the most important thing you can do is document it all and go speak to the teacher and/or principal. make sure they know that there is a problem and that you are paying attention. names, dates, circumstances. if it happens again, you’ll have proof of a persistent problem AND the school will be sick of you.

    best of luck and hugs to the momma and the sweet girl.

  • Chris in PHX says:

    Disclaimer..I dont have children. Which is probably obvious since the first thing that went thru my head was WTF! This poor little girl needs to be taught to punch first ask questions later. I got picked on all thru school for being smaller and terrible at sports, the advice I was always given was to just ignore them or try and walk away. Looking back now, I wish so much someone would have just said, dont take that crap and stand up for yourself. I wish I could do things over and stand up to the jerks. This is probably why Im such a big mouth now who doesnt mind jumping on people I see not acting right or being douchey to others. Im all about being the bigger person, but sometimes some people just need to be smacked along side the head.

  • I was bullied (verbally & emotionally) throughout elementary school & junior high. It was awful. It’s so sad to me that this shiggedy still happens, and even happens among adults/bloggers/etc…no excuse for it. And I’m terrified for my twin girls who will start kindergarten this fall. Oy….

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