He was nervous about it a few weeks ago but I didn't think too much about it.
"Mom, we are moving seats, and I have to sit by this girl, I'm a little worried. She can be kinda mean."
I went into a kindness opportunity speech, I was hopeful because Josiah is really good at making almost any friendship/ relationship work. I should have known it could be hard if he was concerned. We didn't talk about it much after that until yesterday.
I was waiting in the car pool line when the door flung open and both boys climbed in, Jack was chatty but Josiah seemed a little quiet. We got home and he sat down next to me on the couch. I knew something was wrong.
"Mom, I'm kind of having a hard time." he said.
He went on to explain how the girl was being unkind, making fun of his drawings, telling how everything was wrong with him, part by part, day by day. He looked defeated and was starting to take these lies into his heart.
"I tried to tell her I don't care....but..." he burst into tears.
"But you do care right?" I said. He nodded his head through his tears.
"Everyone cares Josiah, trust me." I replied as he released long sobs in my arms.
"Do you think there is something wrong with you?" I asked, he shook his head but cried a little harder.
There are times when you just can't protect your child and someone else's pain will hurt them. I wanted to cry myself, but I didn't and we just sat for a moment together.
I told him I thought maybe he was dealing with a bully and suggested we find out some more information so we could make a plan to help him. So we spent some time researching and found out why this might be happening to him and what we could do.
Bullying is either about power or passing on some form of mistreatment. We wondered together if that might be the cause for this girl being unkind. We talked about how sometimes when you hear negative messages repeatedly you can start to believe them.
It was time for truth to do her magic I told him, because truth is the only thing that can set you free. If he was starting to question himself, maybe his bully can't remember the truth at all.
We came up with a strategy to deal with all the problems we could come up with.
1. Try to ignore any mean or unkind words, completely. No response at all.
2. We sent an e-mail to the teacher explaining what had been going on.
3. I wrote tiny cards of truths/affirmations about him to keep in his backpack at school so he could read them if things got hard.
4. Made a plan to check-in in 2 days to see if our strategy was working.
"Do you think this will work?" I asked.
"Yeah, I feel better mom." he said.
I gathered my parenting strength and sent him off to school the next day. I realized this is probably just the beginning of various big kid problems but I think we can find our way.
Have your kids ever dealt with a bully? What did you do?