How to respond as a mom when your tween daughter is bullied at school.
It breaks my heart to be able to write this post. Recently my usually happy tween daughter told me how kids at school are treating her. We all hear the stories and see the Facebook videos about kids that are bullied, but when it’s your own kid it’s completely different.
Let’s start with a little back story. We are a military family and move every three years or so. My oldest daughter is twelve and has lived in twelve different houses and said goodbye to her dad more times than I can count. She’s handled it like a pro. Our most recent move took her away from her best friends in Colorado and plopped her in Alabama where she didn’t know anyone.
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The beginning of the school year was normal. She had a little difficulty making friends but that didn’t last long. Our family dinners were always full of our two oldest girls talking about their friends and what went on that day at school.
Everything changed about five months into school, last month. I’m not sure exactly how long the bullying was going on but I found out about it just a few weeks ago. The information came out at different times. The first thing she mentioned was that the kids at school were spreading rumors that she was really a boy. Ok, as a tween girl this is hurtful. I tried not to blow it out of proportion, it was just a rumor. I made sure to talk with her about it, spend girl time with her and make sure she knew she could come to me anytime with anything.
About a week later was when she dropped the bomb. She hadn’t been able to eat her lunch at lunchtime in over a month!!! What? My inner mama bear immediately came out. I managed to keep it together and not let all the profanity slip out of my mouth. After the initial shock wore off we sat down for a conversation. She told me that there were three kids that were taking her lunch and eating it everyday. Sometimes she would get to eat a few bites before they came to her table or she would wait and eat on the bus ride home. As I listened I was filed with a combination of complete anger and sadness. No wonder she was always starving when she came home from school. She had told the kids to stop and had told the teacher. The teacher moved her to another part of the table but didn’t talk to the three that kept taking her food. This lunchtime routine continued for about a month until she told me.
The first thing I did was make sure I had the whole story. I couldn’t go flying off the handle with only half the story. Once I had all the information I called the school counselor and made an appointment. The counselor was unaware that any of this was going on, but by visiting with her we got it on file.
Ok, so I just met with the counselor yesterday! This is all still happening for us. I’m writing this post while waiting for the school bus to bring my kids home so I can find out how today’s lunch went. I’ll keep everyone updated but for now I’d like to share some tips for other moms.
What to do when your tween daughter is bullied.
Stay calm! Coming unglued won’t set a good example for your kids.
Make sure you have all the information but don’t push your tween to talk about it. It may take a week or more to get the whole story.
Contact the school, that’s what the counselor is there for.
Look for warning signs. I’ll cover this a little later in this post.
Personally I feel you shouldn’t treat them as a victim.
Make sure your child knows it’s not ok to get physical with the bullies. Talk to them about taking the highroad.
Talk through what the bullies are doing or saying. For example, they were calling my daughter a boy which obviously isn’t true. We talked about how kids say things to make themselves look cool or feel better about themselves.
Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure there is a time each day after school that your tween can come to you.
Warning signs that your child is being bullied.
Unexplained bruises or marks.
Super hungry when they get home from school.
Change in eating habits.
Change in mood or talkativeness.
Spending more time than usual alone.
Bullying siblings or having attitude problems at home.
Doesn’t want to go to school.
If you suspect your child is being bullied check out these other resources. Don’t wait to take action. You can get more information here or visit stopbullying.gov.
Has your child been bullied? How did you know and how did you respond?