In my daughter’s class there are two children (a brother and sister, M and A for the sake of anonymity) who are struggling emotionally with their parent’s divorce. Sometimes they lash out at the other children, not physically but verbally. Isadora has occasionally been on the receiving end. I’ve taught her to stand up for herself. If someone says something hurtful she needs to let them know that it’s not acceptable. I remind her that she is smart, beautiful, and important everyday and that she deserves to be treated with kindness. I’ve taught her not to physically or verbally lash out at others but to express her emotions in her normal speaking voice. So far so good, so far she hasn’t bullied any of her classmates. Fingers crossed that she never does. Both Sam and I have tried to explain the situation of the divorce to her and how the pain of the divorce is effecting M and A’s behavior. A few days ago Isadora overheard A talking to the teacher. Sadly A is blaming herself for the divorce =( Both Sam and I explained that the divorce is in no way the fault of the two children, that it’s a compatibility issue between their parents. At five I don’t think she fully grasps the situation but she has, nevertheless, chosen to follow my advice.
I have encouraged Isadora to play with M and A and to treat them kindly. If they call her names then she needs to let them know how she feels about it and that it is not okay. She knows to tell the teacher right away if someone would physically assault her. Isadora’s birthday is this weekend and we’ve invited all of her classmates. She handed out the invitations herself and despite the bullying she gave M and A their invitations as well. Not long ago another kid in her class had a birthday party, which Isadora attended, and his parents did not invite the troubled siblings. I noticed that some of the parents are teaching their kids to avoid the situation entirely. I keep thinking of those poor children being isolated at school and how in time that sense of rejection and the conviction that they are bad could escalate into more serious behavioral problems. I have been teaching Isadora not to exclude. At the birthday party she attended last weekend Isadora chose to play with a little girl who was sad and isolated. The little girl was just over the moon to have made a friend. I was so proud of Isadora for taking the initiative on her own to include everyone. Yesterday Isadora came home and said she played with A and they had a great time together. I’ve chosen a path in direct opposition of all the other parents. If the children were older and dangerous I don’t know how I would respond but they are only in kindergarten! I want school to be a happy and safe place for all children not just my daughter. Is it irresponsible to encourage my five year old to play with bullies?
(Encase you are wondering when they do bully her she speaks up about it right away, so she does have the courage to say no)