I feel unable to help my 12 year old daughter from being bullied at school
The questioner's philosophy
We recently moved to a small town where the girls are so very, very, cruel. I have faced so many horrible things in my life and I know that there isn't much I can't handle. But, God has blessed me with the most wonderful, beautiful, innocent thing on this earth and to watch these girls hurt my child, well......
Should I take her out of school to home-school her? I have talked to the teachers here, but everyone grew up with each other. Today, I had lunch with her and she was minding her own business reading a book. Honestly, she was lonely.
I have made the mistake of teaching my children manners, respect, love, kindness and to treat others like you want to be treated. And these aggressive kids are running all over her. I have begged her to say something, but she will not, she says it isn't in her.
Maybe I just need to remove her from the situation. She deserves the best and I am praying for an answer. If only these girls could see how painful this surgery is and how long it takes to heal. Please, help me make the right decision. Or just help guide me so I can hold her hand and help her through this rough time in her little life. Thank you.
The first thing to do is to tackle this situation together with your husband. Invite him into the situation by showing him this reply and asking for his support for both you and your child. Face this situation together as a husband and wife team supporting your daughter. Never argue or discuss the best approach in front of your daughter. Both of you decide how to approach this situation and in the ways you can coach and support your daughter in private and only talk to and coach your daughter when you have agreed a joint approach. Discussing the situation together in private and then presenting a joint approach to both coaching your daughter and gaining the support of the school will bring out your wisdom as a couple and help you feel united in the face of these difficulties. Your daughter will also sense your wise and united stand in support of her and she will draw strength from this.
The second thing to do is for both of you to stay very connected to your child. Don't let your child become isolated and alone with this problem. Be there for her at all times. Encourage her to talk about her situation and to express her emotions. Do not judge anything she says as good or bad or right or wrong. If she wants to be silent, be with her in that silence. Learn to simply be with her - connected to her. By remaining connected to her in this way you will open up opportunities to coach your daughter in standing up to these bullies - this is her karmic lesson. When coaching your child ask yourself - what is missing in my child's character that is allowing this bullying to take place. When you have identified what is missing, invite your child to create the possibility of changing her behavior in ways that will help her ward off bullying and aggression. Coach her in how to do this. Do not take this lesson away from her but rather empower her to face these bullies and her own negative self talk that is preventing her from expressing herself and feeling invulnerable.
The third thing to do is for you and your husband to contact the school. I don't know about the regulations in the school your daughter attends, but I do know that here in Ireland every school has to have an anti-bullying policy. Tell your child you would like to do this and see if you can win her over to your taking this action, by explaining why it is necessary to take this step. Be wary of contacting the school if your child opposes this idea. When you contact the school find out if they have an anti-bullying policy and if not ask for the procedure with regard to preventing bullying. Then make an appointment with the relevant teacher or person responsible for protecting your child from bullying. Visit them and discuss steps that can be taken in line with their policy to alleviate the bullying. Bring your child to this meeting if it is thought to be helpful and if she is willing to go.
The circumstances in which I would recommend you remove your child from the school are as follows - if the school is ineffective in reducing or preventing your child from experiencing bullying and/or if your child is becoming isolated from you despite your best efforts. Such circumstances could begin to place an unbearable burden on your child and you simply cannot allow that to happen.
Nadia Thonnard, Wellness Practitioner - Nov, 2008
I really feel for this child and the mother as, I too, was bullied for many years at school and it usually leaves a feeling of extreme loneliness for the child. 12 is especially a difficult age, being a pre-teen and going through some other physical changes as well.
As a counsellor with a field of interest in teens, Parenting and Divorce related issues, I am enjoying your holistic approach and am learning much from it. What I would like to contribute is that bullying, even though unacceptable and very hurtful, has to be understood also from the perspective of the bully.
People in general like what is familiar and feel accepted when they can conform to something. The more one is alike, the less challenges one will have. To conform to norms makes one acceptable because the fit in a crowd that has the same norms. When someone is different, it makes them stand out and people are afraid of what is not "conformed" simply because they do not understand it.
My suggestion would be, in agreement with the daughter, is to have an informational talk at school with her peers to educate them of the problem, using pictures or sketches of the technical problem the daughter has, making it understandable for them how it affects her looks and the pain she will go through with the operation.
The bullies will then be able to accept her "difference" more readily. The learning curve in this for the daughter is that however different she is, she is not to feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. This is how God made her and teaching her to talk about it and explain about it will also help her to come out of her shell and be more assertive.
I would also conclude the talk with a general invitation to a party at her house for ice cream or something like that. Her peers will see her in her home environment and will see that her life is pretty similar to theirs, helping them overcome that barrier of treating her like a "freak". Let's remember that people like what is familiar and they need to be helped to see that apart from her nose, she is a very normal little, with a normal life.
At the talk, I would also encourage the other children to ask questions and welcome without taking offence. Give them the answers they want. Being a group from a small town who know each other for ever, it is likely also that the "leader" is probably the most uncomfortable with the situation which is unknown to them In gratifying constructively her curiosity, the odds are that she will then lead the rest of the school in being understanding towards the daughter.
Warmest regards, Nadia Thonnard
Richie Perl, Certified Life Coach - Nov, 2008
The comments of the 12 year old girl are interesting. The mother says, "I have begged her to say something, but she will not, she says it isn't in her." Taking her comment literally, I am curious what the "it" is that isn't in her. Clearly there is a recognition of the lack of a certain characteristic. What is it, why isn't it "in her." Would she want "it" in her, how could "it" "get into her," etc. Just an observation. Peace!