What can I do if other children pick on my son at middle school? His dad is absent from his life and I’m trying to figure this out as a single mom. If I do nothing I am failing my child. If I do step in and point fingers at these children, I fear my child will be more ostracized, labeled a “mama’s boy” or physically beat up. Obviously I can’t perform any disciplinary actions. I can’t handle seeing my son come home defeated day after day. What can I do to make this stop?
-Mother of Bullied Son
Dear Mother of Bullied Son,
Kids can be mean. I am sorry that your son is going through this at school. It must be tough seeing him come home so upset. When I was in elementary school I dreaded riding the bus because the same repeat bully would call me mean names. Being born with a naturally full pout is something I grew to appreciate, but hated as a child because I thought I looked awkward.
I remember getting stomach aches and anxiety every morning before getting on that bus because the same asshole bully would call me Monkey Lips. Although I don’t remember having a conversation with my parents, my distraught disposition must have been noticeable. At some point, my older neighbors started taking me to school in rotation with my mom.
I would address the bullying with your son and see if he has any suggestions on what you can do to help the situation.
The blame for bullying your son falls on the children that are carrying out these cowardly words and actions, not you. I would address the bullying with your son and see if he has any suggestions on what you can do to help the situation.
If things don’t get better I suggest talking to his teachers, principal and even involving the school board. I would also ask about resources that his school may offer for anti-bullying. In my situation I was removed from the problem, but that isn’t always the case. Your son will look back at these kids one day and feel sorry for them. I learned to embrace my Angelina Jolie lips. I hope that your son will come out having learned more about himself and kinder to the world that surrounds.
Dear Mother of Bullied Son,
It’s important to know that bullying is quite common. 1 in 5 children experience bullying, with bullying often being most frequent in middle school. Reasons for bullying are also quite common, with 55% being related to looks, 33% to body shape, and 16% related to race. The most important issue with bullying is that it can have long-term consequences on children. Bullying has been shown to have negative effects on physical health, mental health, and has even been shown to contribute to suicide.
The good news is that you found out. Almost 70% of children that experience bullying keep it all inside. It sounds like you and your son have a close enough relationship that he opened up to you about some of what he’s experiencing. The other good news is that there things you can do to support your son at home and at school. Look into resources for yourself and your son.
Your son doesn’t deserve to be bullied and it will be up to you to help him work through this.
At home, know that your understanding and support go a long way. Encourage your son for being honest with you and then work together to come up with a solution. It could help to practice some ways for your son to respond to bullies, encouraging him to speak with confidence to the bully without resorting to name calling or insults.
At school, it will likely be important to approach school officials in a straightforward way. Try to clearly communicate to them the actions and behaviors of the other children without accusation. Lastly, make sure you stay in contact with school officials including documentation about what actions they take. Your son doesn’t deserve to be bullied and it will be up to you to help him work through this. Empathy, support, and encouragement will be your tools.