October 3, 2012

My child wasn't the bully but she was part of the problem.

I have to admit I hesitated for weeks before writing this post because I like to think of Mommy Testers as a light hearted dose of cool things for you and your children.  I tend to leave the more serious subjects to thousands of other bloggers who will cover them regularly.  I will say that Jennifer Livingston's brave stand against her adult bully and the fact that it's Bullying Prevention Month make me feel this is worth sharing.

I've seen a lot of talk about taking on bullies and it's very clear that bullies are a huge problem.   But you know what is just as big if not a bigger problem in my opinion?  The kids who go along with whatever the bully says.  They are the people who give that bully power over others because we all know that a bully without an entourage is just a lonely mean kid.

Kayla is just nearing 4 years old and when preschool started up in September there was a new girl in her class.  I drop her off on the earlier side each morning and had met this new girl and her parents a few times and felt they were all very nice.

About a week later while driving to school I asked Kayla about the new girl - how she was doing and if they were playing together.   Kayla told me that another one of her friends didn't like the new girl so Kayla wasn't going to be friends with the new girl either.  Having flashbacks to 6th and 7th grade I nearly stopped the car in the middle of the road.  As soon as we got to school I sat in the car with Kayla and had a talk about how it doesn't matter what other friends do, we are nice to everyone at school and try to be friends with everyone.   Kayla sort of got it and we went in to school.

Yes, I know this is not realistic or sustainable as your child gets older but these are 3 and 4 year old children and I think it's fair to tell them to be friends with everyone unless a child has been particularly mean and awful to them. Even then I'd say she still had to try to be nice.  You may disagree with what I did next, but I did it and I'll stand by my decision to tattle on my own child.

No, my child was neither the aggressor/bully nor the victim in this case.  However, she was one of the kids going along with what the "bully" said.  I say "bully" because this other little girl is also nearly 4 years old and quite frankly I doubt that her intention is to make this new girl's life miserable.  But what she's doing is the behavior that's a stepping-stone to becoming a real bully one day.

After school I spoke with one of Kayla's teachers, explained the situation and Kayla's role.  I asked her to keep an eye on Kayla's little group of friends because I felt terrible for this new girl starting school for the first time and being met with an unwelcoming atmosphere.  No, I don't think it's the teacher's job to solve the situation, but the fact of the matter is that for 8 hours a day I'm not the one at school seeing what goes on.

Do I believe in tons of adult intervention when kids have problems?  No, I usually don't.  I prefer to let kids work things out themselves when it comes to the small stuff.  I guess in my eyes though this wasn't small stuff and perhaps that was an overreaction, but you know what?  Two days later I walked Kayla into school to find the new girl waiting in the classroom.  She said good morning to Kayla and went to give Kayla a hug.  Kayla happily accepted and said that they were friends.  From what I've heard all of those little girls are getting along just fine now.

I know that one day this will be out of my hands and what will happen amongst Kayla and her friends will likely be kept secret from me and I'm okay with that...to an extent.  However, right now while she is still young I'm going to do my best to make sure that I show her right from wrong as situations present themselves because I bet it's much easier to change the thinking of a 4 year old than it is of a 14 year old or a 40 year old.

Would you have done something different?  I'm certainly not saying I did the right thing but I did what felt right to me at the time.

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