So, if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I was originally inspired to write all these ‘bullying’ posts by my little 3yr old being ‘bullied’ at his nursery. It was a situation with a little boy, who I suspect (but I never got a chance to help the parents, which I would have loved to do) was feeling powerless at home due to having one very dominating parent, and another not giving clear rules/controls. He would also get suddenly bored, which is how come it was difficult for the nursery to predict when the problem would occur, because it was as though he would suddenly switch for no reason.
I applied some changes to the support/challenge in my son’s life at home (i.e where life goes his way and doesn’t) and did puppet role play shows on how to walk away from a situation, and the problem appeared to go away.
However, new nursery, new problem! This one has less of a problem with boredom as it is more structured, and they are stricter, so there isn’t really obvious physical bullying. Instead, we have the more subtle feminine side of bullying, with the use of WORDS and power over who does and doesn’t belong! The kids are brighter, older and much cleverer, so it is a totally different kettle of fish. Now I don’t know them well enough to know exactly what their backgrounds are which is creating their behaviour, but they are definitely looking to create more ‘support’ for themselves at nursery, by creating a ‘gang’ that they can belong in. (Remember, bullies are not ‘bad’ – we all bully somewhere – they are just attempting to fill a need). There are quite a lot of girls, so they are all attempting to work out the hierarchy and displaying signs of ‘power’ and who would be most valuable to ‘belong’ to!
Why has it occurred for Curly Headed Boy again? Well, we have just come back from holiday, where I worked for 5 days and he got thoroughly spoilt. Plus he arrived 2 weeks after everyone else, so isn’t automatically fitting in. He probably walked in a little cocky, expecting it to be like his old nursery where the shouts of his name would be everywhere as he arrived. He needs to learn to adapt to a bigger environment, where he isn’t such a big fish. Plus, he needs for life to be going slightly less the way he always wants it at home! (Remember, I’ve talked about the ‘challenge’ of bullying occurring when there is too much ‘support’ elsewhere in their lives).
Now, although I don’t get really ‘upset’ about bullies etc, it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to take some action. So here is what I’ve done so far:
1) Alert the nursery to the fact that I’m totally aware of the situation, and am not willing for it to continue for too long. In my view it is their job to ensure that the kids all understand that it is not acceptable behaviour at school to refuse to play with someone because of their gender/size/race/background etc. If they don’t do that, then they aren’t helping the ‘bullies’ who need to learn some safe boundaries. If they get caught with that sort of behaviour at the up and coming assessments for primary schools, they will be in big trouble! However, of course, they can’t force a child to play with another child, and that’s not what I’m attempting to make them do.
Update: the nursery were great, and admitted that there was a slight problem in the room. They are now being much more consistent and certain about the behaviour expected at nursery. They have also had a whole week concentrating on ‘friendly behaviour’ at circle time, and have even asked Max to share his strategies (see below).
2) Started to suss out the Mums in the playground and found another Mum in the same situation. So we can set up a ‘play date’ where are kids gain some ‘power’ by getting to know each other. I’m going to keep looking and help Curly Headed Boy learn how to look for potential friends and remember names (challenging in a larger class of 16 with 2 teachers!).
Update: This very quickly helped both him and another child facing a similar problem. They immediately understood that it wasn’t personal, and that there were potential allies in the room, so it had an almost overnight affect. Got lots more booked up as well; gonna have to buy him a diary to keep track ;o)
3) Talked Curly Headed Boy through the 4 alternatives to what to do (at his age) when a child doesn’t want to play with him (they told him he was a boy, so he couldn’t play with the girls).
Firstly, clearly say that if they don’t want to play with him, it’s not a problem, because he’ll find someone better to play with (maintain his power).
Secondly, to check around the playground for someone else who is alone and play with them (Look for opportunities).
Thirdly, look for something fun to do on his own (show initiative & confidence).
And Finally, in the situation that they want to play with him, but not do what he wants to do, then he can either give in and play what they want, or create a new idea, or make a ‘deal’ to play their game and then his (he is good at deals!).
Update: Not only did he apply these strategies, but I also saw him apply them in a park a few days later. There was a group of boys, with a ‘leader’ who was very clever at manipulating situations. They systematically spat at, kicked, pushed and called him names. During which time, I clung to the park bench, knowing that I needed to let him handle the situation himself. He was amazing, I was so proud of him, He tried every strategy I had given him (I’m going to blog more about strategies soon), and eventually actually started to create allies int he group. I’m now very grateful to those little girls at his nursery, for their very gentle introduction into a much more severe world of child-power-play.
I have no doubt that the social lessons he is learning here will set him in good stead for when he goes to primary school next year. Plus although the game has upped in intensity/complication a bit, he is also capable of understanding more complicated social situations now. Finally, he is beginning to get his head around the fact that I’ve been telling him that there will always be people both loving and disliking him in life, and that is OK. If he can learn to understand that, it will save him a world of pain in the future, and instead he will automatically just look around for who does like him, rather than worry about who doesn’t.
It’s ironic that I have picked a co-ed school for Curly Headed Boy, rather than single sex, which would have a much simpler version of bullying for him! But heh, that is real life, so, and I think that he is capable of dealing with it, even at this age (others might not) and therefore it will stand him in good stead for life. Bear this in mind when considering single/co-ed schools – what would suit your child and their current social maturity levels?
7 thoughts on “Bullying Pt 12 – The Bully returns for my son”
sounds good but my boys would not have been able to grasp this kind of social stuff at 4 years old
Thanks for your comment Jenny, you might want to read the other blogs too – as being a blog this is just a short snippet, and there are other blogs on how to talk in your children’s values. I’ll be adding another about strategies soon – but basically it’s about empowering your kids in the areas that they are weak. You’ll see in the other blogs that I have also used role play, puppets etc.
The downside of Max learning to be so good at ‘Deals’ is that I spend the day working with Brokers only to come home to ‘Is that a Deal Daddy?’ – gotta love him though!
Excellent! You’re doing all the right things; alerting teachers and staff (without hysterics), role-playing, encouraging your child to explore creative solutions, and most importantly, forcing yourself to stay on the side-lines while he works it out for himself. I have no doubt that with your support, Max will blossom into a fine man.
There are some other creative and highly effective strategies I lay out in The Total Bully Solution. And from my point of view, words aren’t sufficient to stop a bully who spits and hits. (Different tools for different jobs).
Founder: All Powers Jiu Jitsu
Creator: The Total Bully Solution
Thanks Adam, glad you enjoyed it, I’ve ordered your free report to check out your stuff. I’d be interested in knowing what you think about the summaries I’ve written about bullying.
Ooh and by the way, in the particular situation that Max was involved in, although it was a boy and appeared to be a case of ‘physical’ bullying, it was actually more ‘feminine’ and ‘manipulative’ in nature, and therefore it was definitely resolvable with different strategies. I’ve just written a new blog to talk through strategies in more detail.
Bullying is a very serious issue in our culture today. The dynamic between the bully and the bullied is complex. Most of the behavior problems that children experience have to do with their PONS and midbrain development. When a child care provider holds and carries the baby alot in the first year of life the PONS and midbrain do not finish developing and the primitive reflexes get left on. Primitive reflexes, when left on create all kinds of behavior and academic issues. Children with undeveloped PONS and midbrain become the bully and bullied. One child might be overly aggressive and fight while another might hide in mommy’s dress and act shy in any new situation. Understanding proper child developmental movement is essential to having an emotional stable child who is not over or under reactive. Primitive reflexes are meant to develop the first year of life, they don’t just happen. The only way to develop the PONS and midbrain is to crosspattern the body, creep and crawl in the proper order, for the proper amount of time. Proper handling of the infant will assure that the sensory and motor functions are in sync. Primitive reflexes can be left on into adulthood and result in behaviors such as fighting, anxiety, being a pushover, self care issues, addictions, sleep problems, food issues, reading and math problems, balance issues, problems keeping still, sitting or standing still- and on and on. Primitive reflexes are unconcious and cannot be collapsed away. Only a physical body movement wires the PONs and midbrain correctly. Any child who consistently gets bullied or feels they need to bully, most likely, has an underdeveloped PONS and midbrain and would do well with a brain development crosspatterning program. You can’t skip steps in Mother Natures plan without consequences- proper bodymovement in the first year of life is crucial for a balanced body and mind and can’t happen if the child is held alot or buckled into seats and swings. Babies are designed to be on their belly on a smooth flat surface ideally for 18 hours a day- more work for the child care provider- but essential for proper development of the body mind and soul.