Bullying or Kids being Kids?

We’ve always found it humorous how different Anthony and Ethan are when it comes to their clothing choices. Anthony is our future goth child. He only likes to wear black, red and grey and preferably with skulls. Ethan, on the other hand, is a sharp dresser. He always looks for a reason to wear a tie and gets excited when he receives a sweater vest for Christmas.

This Monday morning, the chaos was on to get out the door to work while the kids rushed around to get ready for school. Down came Ethan in his torn jeans and a wrinkled shirt. “Ethan, put something nicer on for school.”

And off he stomped upstairs. Five minutes later, he’s back in a nicer pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt that barely reach his pants. Jason grabbed Ethan’s hand, “Come on. Let’s go find something for you.”

Moments later, Ethan came down again in a argyle sweater, looking nice but huffing and stomping even harder. “Ethan, what’s wrong??”

“I don’t WANT to wear this!”

“Why not? You look nice!”

“Because the kids make fun of me! They always say I look stupid!!”

Oh. My. So, it comes out. Is my kid being bullied? “No, that’s just how boys are.”

The next day, I looked outside and saw this:

Ethan, sitting all by himself in the front yard when he was supposed to be playing with the neighborhood kids. Days from then I found out from Anthony that Ethan had got into a physical fight with one of the neighborhood boys. “Good for him,” my dad said. “It’ll teach him to stand up for himself!”

Hmmm… And then again today, I offered up the idea to both the boys, “What would you think of home school?”

Right away, Ethan pipped up. “That would be great!! Then I wouldn’t have to take the bus anymore!!!”

“What’s wrong with taking the bus?”

“Everyone on the bus HATES me! They all make fun of me!” I questioned myself, Is this just exageration? But before I could even respond, Anthony added, “He’s right. All the kids make fun of him.”

The pieces have started to add up. My poor child is being bullied! Even at home when I see him playing with the neighborhood kids. Even with his older brother. And at football when I see him standing as far as possible from the rest of the players. So, Jason and I are working on our plan.

Step 1: Work on Ethan’s confidence.  Have you ever noticed that kids tend not to pick on the one who’s sure of himself? Ethan has been dealing with low self-confidence for the past year or so. Maybe it’s part of the adoption adjustment. Maybe it’s moving from California. But whatever it is, it doesn’t need to be there. This child needs to know that he’s wonderful just the way he is.

Step 2: Enlist the help of Big Brother. I know for a fact that Anthony enjoys torturing his brother. A lot of big brothers do. But when they share the same group of friends and ride on the bus together, Anthony is showing the other kids that it’s okay to pick on Ethan and all the things that bother Ethan most are pointed out for all the other kids to see. So, it’s time to sit Anthony down. It’s time to point out what’s going on and how helpful he could be by just being supportive. Anthony is a smart kids – he’ll figure it out. And hopefully enlisting his help will get Anthony to start curving his own behavior.

Step 3: Enlist the help of the Teacher. Thank God it’s Parent/Teacher Conference time! I’m looking forward to getting a chance to talk to the teacher shortly and get a feeling for what’s going on in the classroom. Does she see the same things I’m seeing? And if so, together we can work to stop the teasing, the name calling, and Ethan in the nurse’s office, pretending to be sick yet again.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sara
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 22:10:55

    Good for you. Ethan’s lucky to have a momma like you on his side. *hugs*

    Let us know if we can help at all. Bullying is no fun and no kid should have to go through it.

    Reply

  2. Anthony
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 01:19:47

    It’s really cool that you guys observed and caught on to this issue. I can remember numerous times growing up where I was in Ethan’s position. But nothing seemed to work that I tried. It was only once I hit college that I picked up on people’s maturity towards others and I was able to not be bullied. It’s important for parents to pick up on these clues because it does affect grades, social growth & just feeling accomplished in areas.

    Reply

    • Kirsten Deeds
      Nov 01, 2010 @ 20:23:45

      I think we all go through bullying of some kind in school. Just a matter of how it’s handled (by kids and adults, alike!!) that really makes a difference. Here’s hoping we can make a difference.

      Reply

  3. Brenda Boitson
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 01:55:00

    I’m with Sara-if there’s anyway I can help, I’d be happy too. I was bullied as well-went home crying many nights, and had to have my mom call the teacher for a particularly bad incident. It’s a horrible feeling.

    Reply

  4. Brenda Boitson
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 01:55:19

    EEK, EEK, GRAMMAR, too=to. Oh man. 😉

    Reply

  5. michaeleriksson
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 04:55:27

    Concerning confidence: Even when lacking confidence, adaptions of e.g. body language can go a long way. Looking at the photo above, we have slumped shoulders and a bowed head—signs of lack of confidence. Try the same with a face oriented forward, straight shoulders, a long step, arms positioned to take more space, whatnot. This alone may have a considerable positive effect. I suggest observing the body language of the very confident, respectively very insecure, in a few movies.

    (Above, obviously, the posture may be related to an interesting object in his lap, rather than lack of confidence. It remains an excellent illustration, however.)

    Reply

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