A Problem Shared: Is This Bullying Or Not?

A Problem Shared Education Parenting & Family Advice | by | 10th Apr 2018

left out for APS Is This Bullying Or Not?

A parent is worried about their young child and whether they are being bullied at school, or if this is just normal behaviour for five year old boys. She asked FamilyPoint for advice.

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Hi FamilyPoint,

My son is five and goes to a small school with a handful of other boys in his class. The other boys are leaving him out. If they do let him play, he says he doesn’t like it because they’re too rough. He tends to either play on his own, or with the girls if they let him.

It breaks my heart to think of him on his own and I’ve been to talk to the school. They say they will keep an eye on him. It’s been a few weeks now though and the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better.

I don’t want to throw words like bullying about with them being so young, but if they were a few years older, then this is exactly what I’d call it. Should I be worried, or should I just leave him to it and hope that the situation gets better?

FamilyPoint’s Advice

Hi, and thanks for getting in touch with us here at FamilyPoint about your concerns for your son. It’s natural that you’re worried about what’s happening in school and how it might be affecting him.

Isolating someone is a form of bullying, and if that is what is happening then it’s only right that you do something to improve the situation.

Keep on at the school

You described what is happening in some detail. When you went into the school did they accept that this is what has been happening? It is very difficult for teachers or playground staff to notice everything that happens, especially things that are one-offs. However, if this is something that is happening regularly then it should have been noticed and acted upon.

It’s a positive that they said they will keep an eye on him, but does that also mean they will keep an eye on the other children involved in this situation? Did you arrange a follow up discussion with them to discuss how the situation has improved? If not, and especially as you’ve seen no improvement, then perhaps you could think about re-contacting the school?

Go higher

Maybe think about speaking to the head if you spoke to the class teacher last time. It would not be unreasonable to ask what steps have been taken if they have witnessed the worrying behaviour. Also, what is being done to remind all the children to treat others in a kind manner, remembering to include everyone and take turns? Does your son’s school have a system in place, like a buddy bench that helps in situations like this? If not, perhaps you and your son could become instrumental in setting one up. This could have a very positive effect on your son’s self-esteem.

Hopefully this will help to resolve the situation but if not, there is a formal procedure that you could follow to ensure that the school are doing everything they should to make sure your son feels happy and safe going to school. His school will have an anti-bullying policy that you are entitled to see. Most schools publish them on their websites. You could use it to ensure that you are following the correct procedure if you need to pursue this further – hopefully you won’t need to of course.

Talk to the parents

Another option could be of course to speak to the parents of the other children involved. Most of the time parents are not aware of what their children are doing and would be distressed to know that they are causing another child to feel like your son does. This approach does have its risks. Some parents will see it as an attack on their parenting, or their child, and may not respond well.  Could you try and foster a better relationship between your son and the other boys (maybe one at a time) by having play dates? If individual friendships are fostered your son might feel more confident when he’s back in a group situation.

Teach your son how to take control

Finally, as difficult as it is, especially when your child is so young, sometimes we have to try and equip them with resilience. Resilience is being able to ‘bounce back’ from difficult times, setbacks and other significant challenges. It includes being able to deal effectively with pressure, and get through tough times with good outcomes.

Maybe you could practice with your son what he could say to the other boys when they are not treating him fairly. Or perhaps practice what he could say to the teacher/playground staff if the other boys don’t listen to him. It’s important that he feels part of the solution in this situation. You can give him the tools to improve this situation himself.

We hope that some of these ideas are useful and things start to improve. Thanks again for getting in touch.

The FamilyPoint Team

FamilyPoint Helpline

If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

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