My eight-year-old daughter is having trouble with mean girls already. Does anyone have any advice? She is shy, and the kids in her class are picking on her, for no particular reason. I am working with the teacher to stop it, but she is so deeply hurt by their mean words. It is effecting her already delicate self-esteem. What can I do to help her feel good about herself again?
I feel so powerless Any advice would be appreciated.
I had the same problems when I was in fifth grade. The teacher had no control over her students and it escalated to the point where my mom had to go to the principal. I am not saying you should run to the principal right away, but if you have been working with the teacher and nothing is changing, you need to explore other options perhaps. Elementary and middle school were not fun times for me because I was shy and people did pick on me for that reason, but I feel some of these things went away once I started high school and kids began to mature.
My older daughter experienced this and we placed her in martial arts classes. I was scared she would be overwhelmed. This was definitely not the case! The instructors welcomed her with open arms, worked with her and encouraged her to focus on herself. She dramatically improved and within weeks, the bullying stopped.
Later, she dealt with it again, and she handled it better, but I wish we had chosen to place her back in the class. It would have stopped the bullying cold for her. Every child is different and this is what worked for us. It is not a guarrantee taht it will work for you; it is just a suggestion based on similar experience.
Also, as a mother who has and is experiencing the attitude, I would strongly suggest you nip that in the bud. When my older daughter starts in with the attitude, I remind her of what I must do for her. I tell her I will give her what she needs and help her as I can. She tries to tell me I am Mom and I must do this or I must do that; I remid her of my responsibilities.
It is taking time and more may be needed for it sink in all the way. This, even for the full extent of our experience, will not be a short-lived memory in her life or yours. Try what my therapist does, and that is to agree with her when she says the bullying is bad, unfair or mean. Keep agreeing with her until she wants you to buy her something or do something she does not need, just because she is bullied.
Studies show children who are bullied can, sometimes, go on to bully others. watch out for this. My daughter tries to bully her younger sister now all the time. Good luck and sorry for a long post. This one just hit me hard!
I cannot speak from personal experience, but my wife (who has considerable experience in this area) would say that the reassurance of her beauty, intelligence, and over all coolness she gets from her father will do more to help/harm her self-esteem that anything. So, tell your hubby to love on her. I'm sure he does, but more, more, more.
I was homeschooled starting from sixth grade and missed the worst of that kind of behavior, but many of my public schooled friends were Janice and Damien types (from the movie Mean Girls) in high school, so I know a little about it secondhand. I think kids are always going to be mean, and there isn't much you can do about that, really. This is kind of a long-term answer for a problem that's short term, for now, but I think the most important thing you can do is help her learn not to care.
First, emphasize that shyness is not a disease, but a perfectly normal behavior trait shared by many accomplished people, so don't pressure her to be more social before she's ready. That can backfire and make her feel even more inadequate.
And second, encourage her confidence by finding something (if you don't already know of something) that she loves and is good at, even if it's a little unusual, and support her interest and talent. If she happens to be into, say, cars, it may worsen the teasing in the short run more than something like art or dance or poetry, but encouraging any talent she has will increase her confidence, teach her the value of skill and genuine accomplishment, rather than accidents of birth and personality, and help immunize her against teasing by the popular crowd.
I also agree with Peter's comment.
Thank you Kerry, sometimes I forget to emphasize that shyness is not a disease, because sometimes it still feels like it is, even to me. I completely understand what you are saying. Forcing her to be social when she is not comfortable would certainly backfire at this point. My father tried for many years to teach me to have "thick skin" so to speak, but I am still pretty sensitive.
I will certainly try to help her focus more on her gifts and talents (she is a dancer and a horse rider).
I am not fond of public school, and had been planning to move her to a private school before the middle school years. I think we may do that sooner, rather than later. Her current school is huge, and she is with different kids every year, so she has little opportunity to make/keep friends long term.
Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with this. You guys are great:) I have been teary all morning (see, still sensitive).
Thanks Peter, that makes sense. I reassure her of all those things, but she already has the attitude that I have to feel that way because I am her mom.
It is definitely different coming from her Dad, so I will suggest this to him. He is just as worried about her as I am, so he will be more than happy to do this, I think
I knew we would have to deal with mean girls at some point, but I wasn't expecting it to start so young.
Ooh, horseback riding is actually perfect! Not only is it "cool," good exercise and a skill worth being proud of, she's controlling a creature more than 10 times her size and far stronger, which is a nice confidence booster for anyone, plus horses can be as affectionate as dogs to people they love. I used to help school a gorgeous Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross who would always trot up to me when I went out to the pasture to bring him in, and ten years later I'm still getting warm fuzzies from the memory.
Being with different kids every year would be hard on a shy child. Good luck with the school situation!
I know, horses are so amazing! She really gets so much out of the experience (and so do I)! There is nothing like the feeling of cantering to lift a spirit. I wish she could have more time riding She would happily hang out at the barn and visit with the horses everyday, if she could.
I was going to say to you to take her to karate lessons until I saw this about horse riding! Your daughter should have a lot of confidence and self esteem to do this. Horse riding is an awesome skill. I would be thrill to know someone with this skill. Also, another that she can do is to excel in school so that those picking on her will have to come seeking for help. I used this in school personally. A matter of fact I smoked them with my dust academically!
I know that self-promoting on the forums is annoying, but I wrote a hub on this very subject because I started dealing with "mean girls" when I was around 7 and switched to public school. I had a lot of Dealing With Bullies to do, and I really wanted to share what I learned from it.
So far, I agree with the horse riding thing. What my hub emphasizes is to get your daughter into something that she really loves, preferably with a community that she loves and that loves her back. That's what did it for me.
If you want to read the whole thing, it's here:
SweetiePie, I agree with you, that going to the principal may be necessary. I am waiting to see what her teacher does next, because she is truly trying to help. Thank you for the advice.
Helena, that is not self-promotion in my opinion! Your hub is completely relevant and extremely helpful. I especially like your suggestion about finding a safe / encouraging community outside of school.
I don't feel so powerless over this situation anymore
Thats tuff, she is shy too...hmmm.
get her some sun glasses, tell her to put them on anytime someone picks on her.
LOL Sandra! I think I will do that - and get myself a pair while I'm at it
It's sickening that your daughter should have to go through this at such a young age; fortunately, children this young rarely get quite so malicious as they can when they're older. It's perhaps a good thing that your daughter is going through this now, and will be able to deal with it in later life if needs be.
Having been bullied myself all throughout my school years, I can say the best way to deal with bullies is to ignore them. Easier said than done, I know, but if they see they're not affecting her, they'll usually leave her alone. A bully is only a bully as long as they have victims. Teach your daughter to feel pity, not fear, for these girls; that is all they deserve.
Vietnamese, I agree - Karate is not a bad idea. She took a few trial classes last year and would like to go back. I have to admit, the more time she spends on the back of a horse, the happier she is.
Ravyn Steele, she is learning to ignore it as well, and I think she is getting pretty good at it. The situation has improved over all since I originally posted. There is this one boy that gives her trouble these days, and she came home with a bad bruise on her leg yesterday -he kicked her. She was laughing at him though. She has also made friends with some of the bigger / stronger boys, which is definitely beneficial. The girls are leaving her alone, for now a least.
As time goes by she is getting stronger and we are both feeling more optimistic.
I wonder if my mother knew I was picked on from age 7 :turning up in a new country with a funny accent and way ahead of the class academically is not good! I dont think i ever told anyone at home though and I doubt that the school noticed: I just looked like a loner which I was :-) To be honest I can't see how a parent or the teacher can do anything really: basically kids are packs and pick on the loner/outsider for whatever reason: power I suppose. Kids usually get bored and go pick on someone else after a while: especially when u ignore them
You have got good suggestions for your daughter to deal with bullies.Actually they are also not bullies but a little sharp.
I was bullied for many years when I was in elementary school. Back then they didn't as seriously as they do now. I will tell you from personal expierence it can hurt for years to come. My self esteem struggled for years and it wasn't til I went to therapy in my late 20's that I was able to find myself and like myself. It is easy to say just ignore them or sticks and stones, but when you are dealing with bullying you can't just ignore it.
Schools take this situation much more seriously these days. I am in school to be a teacher and we learn a lot about bullying and how to handle it. I strongly urge you to go the principal and if they do nothing go to the school board. Your child deserves a quality education and she can not get it if she is being bullied at school. School should be a safe place not somewhere you are tortured at.
I am sure your daughter is a bright beautiful girl. The school needs to get behind you on this one and put an end to it. These kids that are doing this to your child have no right to treat another person this way and they should be dealt with. Good luck to you and your family. I know it is not easy, but you all will get through it and will be stronger for it in the end.
I just got past those tough years, so I can tell you from experience that the best way to get a kid some self esteem is to find out what she is good at, and explore it. In doing this, you could also help your daughter find herself some friends of her own age, who share her interests. Possibly these girls will also be shy, like your daughter. Generally, shy girls are sweeter and more loyal (I'm saying this out of experience, I dont think I have any offhand evidence to back this up, except my on observations. You may disagree with them, of course). Once your daughter makes some friends she is sure of, and also finds herself something she does that she can be really proud of, the bullies won't be able to do anything to her. They may still rag her and taunt her, but she will mind far less if she knows she has friends and is better than the bullies could ever be. And I'm sure she will easily find friends if you enroll her in activities outside school, so that she has an opportunity to meet other people.
Okay I can help with this using some acting / DJ tricks, but first things first.
What is it about her that has made her a target? Glasses, buckteeth?
Are we talking about boys here or mean girls or both?
When does this usually take place? The bus? Home room?
The key usually lies in who is the one who instigates this. Believe it or not, it's never THEIR idea to pick on her. It is almost always ONE KID who the others fear / respect and the rest join in for fear of being the next target.
When i know more, I'll explain our game plan.
If you as the mother experience or use to experience the same or similar feelings, it could be good for you to explore and seek resolving or changing your own attitudes and feelings.
Our children can learn/absorb a great deal from the parental, and other close adults, attitudes and subconscious behaviors. As you change, your daughter in turn, may take on your example.
It worked for me and my two daughters...and aspects of my sons as well.
Thats hard to deal with cause i've been dealing with that all my life i have a learning disableity and i've been in different classes than normal kids cause i'm slower and it sucked. I now am not in school anymore and i still get it at work.
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