Navigating Our First Grader’s Experience with a Bully

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The Bully and My Child

We are in the situation that every parent of school-aged children dreads: My first-grade son has become the target of a bully.

The situation started subtly at first, with a few incidents of not-so-nice comments. The teacher handled it, the issues were addressed, and we all told my son to stay away from the aggressor. This child is very aggressive to many of the children, so nothing seemed too unusual. Now, however, my son has clearly become the main target, as the bully has continued to make mean comments, attempted to turn other children against my son, and has even been physically violent in one instance.

I also know from my own teaching experience that the child who is bullying is a child in great pain and distress for whatever reason. However, I am now in the role of a mother who wants to protect her son. He has never been an overly sensitive child and tends to be laid back with his peers, so when he comes home readily admitting to his feelings being hurt, it stings so deeply, and I have to hold back my own tears. The only thing I really want to do is keep my baby boy home from school to snuggle with me, just like when he was a baby and toddler always under my wing. I know that I cannot always shield him from everything.

The hardest part of the situation is that somehow my son keeps searching for why this aggressor is nice to some other children.

He will explain that the bully is nice to a certain child because they have known each other for a couple of years. It’s an age-old fallacy of blaming oneself for mistreatment. He is also mourning the loss of his one good friend in class because the bully child has successfully monopolized this friend. My son kindly explains that his old friend does not want to upset the bully, so they can no longer be friends. I want my son to learn that there is never an excuse for abusive behavior. He did nothing to deserve this, and I never want him to absorb the thought that it is acceptable to be manipulated or mistreated.

As distressing as the situation is for all of us, this is an opportunity for him to learn to overcome adversity.

We will support him. I will always remind him that he is good and kind. Anyone who tries to make him continuously feel bad about himself is not worth his time. We are also proactive in communicating with his teacher to get this situation remedied, and the past week was much better for my son. We have been very open with our son about our communication with his teacher because I want to make sure he is involved in resolving this issue. This is an opportunity to guide our son in dealing with a toxic situation, remaining strong, and always advocating for his own self-worth.

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Angela is the mother of two, Seamus (6) and Maggie (4) and also step-mother to Isabella (15). She is married to Dustin and lives in the southwest Omaha area. She grew up in northwest Omaha, and graduated from UNO. With an education degree, she taught in the public schools for three years, worked in higher education for a while and now works part time from home teaching English in the mornings. This allows her to stay at home with her kids. In her spare time, Angela enjoys reading, writing, knitting, gardening, and cooking. She loves Omaha because it is the perfect place for a family while also having a great offering of art and culinary experiences.

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