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Hampchick
11-08-2011, 05:04 PM
Today I found out during the car ride home from a class for homeschoolers at a nearby nature center that my 8 yo has been being teased (his word) by a brother and sister in the class. From what he described this was not just teasing, this girl was bullying him with the brother pitching in. He's the youngest one in the class, the other kids are between 9-12, and is smaller than even most girls his age so I guess that made him a target. He made it sounds like that's how it all started - because he's 8 and they are 9.

He doesn't want me to say anything to the center or his instructors. The class meets just once a month and his last one is in Dec. But, he may want to take classes here again and it's not as if the homeschooling community is huge. I don't know these kids but eventually we will run into them again.

How would you handle this? I'm inclined to respect his wishes, but it's so hard to bite my tongue on this. I really thought we wouldn't have problems with bullying as homeschoolers but realize that's probably naiveté on my part since bullies can come from anywhere.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-08-2011, 05:25 PM
My son learned in karate that you first try to deal with bullies by ignoring them (if it's just words). If it gets persistent or physical (even not causing injury) then you try different strategies, such as politely asking the bully to stop, moving away from them, using humor to diffuse the situation, or trying to make friends, or warning the bully that you will tell an adult if they don't stop. If the bully doesn't stop, you follow through and tell an adult. The kids did a lot of role playing with the karate teacher to practice these, emphasizing that they should not lose their cool and yell or hit (unless they were threatened with physical harm, and then they should defend themselves).

I don't know which strategies would be appropriate for this situation. If the teasing is not menacing, maybe teach him some snappy comebacks? If he wants to be serious, look the bullies in the eye and ask them to stop teasing him about his age? If it's beyond teasing, the threat to tell the instructors may be a good option.

I know my mama bear instinct would make me want to go deal with the kids myself. I'm not sure what I would do in your case, to be honest!

hockeymom
11-08-2011, 05:28 PM
Oh that's such a yucky position to be in, Dawn. :(

Is it possible it was a one time teasing/bullying? Did your son actually feel threatened, or was it "merely" annoying and something he felt okay walking away from? I don't mean to marginalize it because obviously it bothered him enough to talk to you about it. But somewhere in the maturing of our little ones, they do start to learn the boundary of when it's okay to walk away and when it's a bigger problem than they can handle themselves, you know what I mean? Do you think this is something he wants to deal with on his own, or do you feel the situation needs adult intervention?

If you do, could you talk with your son about perhaps taking the opportunity to discuss the situation with the other kids' parents? Maybe not even when he or the other kids are around, just casually. Personally, I wouldn't go behind his back since he was mature enough to ask you not to get involved, but if it warrants your personal action, well, you do know best (mama instinct and all!).

Best of luck; stuff like this is never fun to deal with. I hope he didn't get hurt (emotionally) too much. :(

Gabriela
11-08-2011, 05:40 PM
My son was bullied. My husband and I gave him all the pep talks, ideas for how to respond, ways to try to get back on their good side...
And when it didn't work, we pulled him out. I think the instructors should know, but maybe ask them specifically to not let the others know that your kid tattled.

dbmamaz
11-08-2011, 05:40 PM
I've definitely seen it happen, but i'm usually not sure what to do. I do think, tho, that if it continues, eventually you SHOULD say something to the adults. They should be aware and keep an eye out, seperating them if possible. most of the teachers i've dealt with are really good at doing that subtly enough that it doesnt cause problems.

theWeedyRoad
11-08-2011, 05:51 PM
We dealt with it in ps, and for us the key was a plan of attack.
We gave our ds specific words to use, and roll-played a three-step way to deal with bullying.

For us, it meant 1.) warn them to stop and attempt to walk away. 2.) tell a teacher or other adult. 3.) (and sadly necessary for our ps), he had our permission to take care of the situation himself. We told him we would back him up every step of the way, even if that meant dealing with his principal.

I think it was important for us to let him deal with it himself first, though. I don't believe that toughens kids up or anything ridiculous like that, but I needed him to have the power to control the situation. If he was dealing with a similar situation in a homeschooling group, we'd have the same steps. Once our ds felt he had exhausted step 1., and was then coming to us to help, WE would talk to whomever necessary. But not until he asked us to. My dd would be a horse of a different color. She's super sweet and sensitive, and not the type to rock the boat. For her, I would step in as soon as I was aware of the situation (and have in the past).

Stella M
11-08-2011, 05:52 PM
It's a really difficult topic and one we've had to deal with ourselves. I'm not sure I have advice on how to handle it.

The first time we went the rounds of dealing with it, we tried a lot of different approaches and I have to say the situation was only resolved by withdrawing from the class involved.

The most recent - yesterday! - involved a boy at co-op ( which is held in my home ) and I've asked his mom not to bring him back. This time I don't have the energy to take time dealing with it. And in the end, I don't want bullies in my ds life.

All to say, it's a tough situation and best of luck (and empathy 0 dealing with it!

coloradoalice
11-08-2011, 05:54 PM
I would talk to the adults in charge. I had to do that for my daughter last year. It's just not ok, especially for bigger kids to pick on younger ones, they should be looking out for them! I think that sometimes teachers use the excuse "kids will be kids" a little too much.

laundrycrisis
11-08-2011, 06:04 PM
I would tell him to protest LOUDLY in class, so that it gets the attention of the teacher. Once the little bullies learn this is not a kid who will quietly take it, but will call attention to what is going on, they will likely leave him alone. If it stirs up trouble in the class, great - then you get to address it with the teacher.

hockeymom
11-08-2011, 06:35 PM
Right after I read this, I took the opportunity to role model the situation with my son. After putting himself in both situations--being the bully and the bullied--he thought it would be best for the mama to talk to the bully's parents--but he agreed with EJ that she should NOT talk with the teacher because, as he put it, the bully would then get in trouble and the situation would get worse. I think he figures mamas will be gentler than teachers ( :) ) and that maybe the bullies were just having a bad day. He wasn't so sure he could handle the situation on his own, and feels bad for EJ. :(

So that's the perspective from a fellow 8 year old, for what it's worth!

dragonfly
11-08-2011, 07:00 PM
This is so hard. I've had lots of experience, unfortunately, with my son being bullied. Not by other hs-ers, but by kids in the neighborhood. It got so bad once last year that the police were involved...long story, unpleasant, everything is okay now, but I know how hard it can be as a parent. :(

Can you sit in on the class? Maybe just your presence will help, or at least you might be able to witness the behavior firsthand.

Since it's only once a month, and your child doesn't want you to make an issue of it, I would take the time to talk about strategies for your son to use. Sometimes just being assertive is all that is necessary for the bully to back down. There have been lots of good suggestions for role-playing, etc. already.

One thing I've learned, especially with kids in the age range you mention, is that their behavior can change radically, even from one day to another. I tell my son to try to keep an open mind when encountering a child, and give them a chance to be nice. If they are a jerk, he can just move on. Surprisingly often, a child who was an annoying tease one day was very nice and fun on another.

Some kids seem to have bad behavior when they are around certain other kids. Maybe it's a brother/sister thing in this case?

Talk to your son, give him some advice and role-play some strategies (not too much, or it gets confusing), and let him know that you will try to respect his wishes about not "telling," but you are the parent and you have a responsibility to do certain things in order to protect him, and possibly other children, if you feel that something needs to be done. Even if it means upsetting him.

Just my opinion. :) Good luck, and I'm sure that whatever you decide to do, it will be the right thing.

rumbledolly
11-08-2011, 08:16 PM
My son was bullied. My husband and I gave him all the pep talks, ideas for how to respond, ways to try to get back on their good side...
And when it didn't work, we pulled him out. I think the instructors should know, but maybe ask them specifically to not let the others know that your kid tattled.

This was the primary reason we left PS. Bullying and the fact that nothing seemed to work including going to administration....

Anyhow we've encountered it since then, former friends who are upset my DD is homeschooled (I have no clue why they feel like I should have consulted them in the process or why they can't still be friends with DD) and a neighborhood girl who was more rude than bullying.

The problem we keep facing over and over is when particular groups or people are approached, teachers, peers, and parents the discussion always seems to be "why my child, student, friend would NEVER bully...it must be YOUR kid SHE must be overreacting".

I'm not sure how we became a nation of bullies.

Hampchick
11-08-2011, 08:35 PM
Aww, Hockeymom what a sweet boy. Ethan doesn't seem to feel threatened, but it is somewhat physical. The girl took hold hold of his hands and tried to over-power him at one point and the two kids sat on either side of him at lunch, took some of his food and wouldn't give it back. Another girl tried to stand up for him and helped him get his lunch back. I don't know how this escaped the teacher's notice. I don't know, does this reach the level of bullying? It's certainly not behavior I'd like to see in my child. We talked about what he could do to have it all stop and I think after reading everyone's suggestions I'll broach the subject again in a few days. There's also one boy that he likes that is very large for his age, I suggested that he try to pal around with him because you can bet these two kids wouldn't try this stuff with this kid.


I would tell him to protest LOUDLY in class, so that it gets the attention of the teacher.
I suggested he do this also, particularly because when the girl had grabbed his hands and wouldn't let go he tried to defend himself but apparently it ended up that HE was the one told to stop and nothing was said to her. I suspect the teacher just didn't see what was going on and only saw the part where Ethan defended himself.

I spoke with my husband a bit ago and he really feels strongly that I should talk to the instructor. I think Ethan really does want to try to work this out himself and I want to give him the chance to do that. I'm still undecided but I might just approach them in a "this is what my child said happened and I wonder if you have any insight into this" just enough to make them aware that there might be a problem with these two kids. I doubt I'll try to talk to the parent, to me that just feels too risky. THanks so much for all of your comments.