Friday, 25 May 2012

Schooltime teasing

This week hasn’t been a great one. And that’s probably for a number of reasons…

A change in routine, the heat and different class teachers to normal (which seems to have unsettled several of the children, not just Mini) all add to the frustrations and anxieties that Mini experiences.

But I think that the biggest issue this week has been at school with a friend.
I think Mini has suffered with some big feelings and teasing this week. The teachers haven’t noticed anything, but I know he took in his small cuddly Smurf keyring one day. This is as treasured as Mini’s toys tend to be – he doesn’t really care for any of them, but this one has hung around for a while. When he asked on another day to take a toy I suggested the same toy, but he told me he didn’t know where it was. When I picked him up after school I checked his book bag and there was the Smurf. I pulled it out to show him I’d found it, but he hurriedly packed it back in the bag and shushed me!

Later on when Mini was calm, I asked him if he didn’t like the keyring anymore, or if his friends didn’t like it. He told me that one of his friends had told him that Smurfs were stupid and silly, and another friend had joined in and told him the same, and so he didn’t want to take it anymore. He was clearly embarrassed and worried about taking it again. I tried to show empathy, and talked about how hard it must have been for him when his friend said those things about his special toy; I hugged him and told him that maybe his friend was feeling a bit jealous because she didn’t have one of her own. But I told him that he didn’t have to take it again if he didn’t want to.

I felt really sad about this – he’s 5; he should be able to enjoy the Smurfs at that age right? I must say, I also felt happy in equal measure though because it’s very difficult to get Mini to talk about his feelings and even harder to get him to open up about what happens at school (he can’t even share what he’s done at school each day). I felt proud of myself for spotting the right moment, and creating an opportunity where Mini felt comfortable enough to open up. I was also proud of him for trusting me enough to share what happened with me.

And so it starts, age 5, in reception – that teasing and bullying between children (and their parents) over what children have/don’t have, want/don’t want, like/don’t like etc.
He’s experienced feelings he might never have had before – embarrassment, ridicule, inadequacy, and of course, it’s probably added to those feelings of shame he experiences all too often anyway.
We all now have to think much more about other people’s perceptions of Mini, and he has to give the right impression to his peers, so as to avoid the bullying and confrontation that can so often occur.

Mini’s very lucky to have a small group of (usually) lovely little friends. And certainly those who we’re likely to stay in touch with over the summer are brilliant kids, who are all totally accepting of each other as children of this age should be. I hope this will help Mini to stay young, and not grow up too quickly. But how sad, that at just 5, our kids have to think about having the ‘right’ possessions….


  1. Oh bless him. A 5 year old shouldn't be made to feel embarrassed by a toy keyring; how sad that some children grow up so quickly and make others feel so shamed. Great though that he opened up to you. Does he cuddle / play with the Smurf at home after school? This post has brought a tear to my eye x

  2. *Hands over a tissue* thanks for commenting x

    No, he's not that into anything toy-wise (except Dollop's Happyland). He'd much rather be outside bouncing on the trampoline, or just running around. Mini's never been good at playing, despite me spending hours on the floor playing and encouraging, especially when he first came. The CAMHS therapist thinks he's play delayed...

    But when he wanted something to take in the other day, that was what he chose. He's had it a couple of years now, and for the fact he's not thrown it away or broken it, means it is important to him.

  3. Hi
    That is really sad to hear that Mini has been made to feel bad about his Smurf. But it's not an unusual type of teasing, sadly. With ours it started in preschool! I don't think it's necesaarily about kids growing up too quickly, more about the baggage they bring from home etc. Kids with older siblings often seem to be more worldly wise. My youngest has taken against anything 'girly' now, and he didn't get that from home!
    It's encouraging that Mini does have some friends, that will help buffer him against any negative comments from other kids.

    Bad news is that the 'politics' of school gets worse as they get older :( Pup is in year 3. He is not liked by the other boys in his class, so he gets a lot of bad vibes off some of the boys - it's really hard to hear about it. I don't hear this from him, but from other kids and parents. Sometimes I think it would be easier for him if I homeschooled him, but he DOES need to learn ways of coping with other people, especially his peers.
    He also doesn't like to tell me what goes on at school, but recently we have invented a system that helps him, we use thumbs - thumbs up for a good day, down for a bad day, and horizontal if it's been ok. Sometimes that helps him start to talk about it, but often he'll just say "I don't want to tell you now Mummy, later." Later rarely happens. Or I'll ask him if he wants to tell me one good thing and one bad thing about school, that occasionally helps him open up. He is ALWAYS role playing schools, and being the teacher; I'm sure that is significant, but not sure what he's getting out of it.

    It's just one more thing to worry about isn't it. After all, we want them to be able to lead as normal a life as possible - but there is so much to deal with!

  4. Thanks for your comment Megs. Hope things are OK with you at the moment?

    I love your system for helping Pups tell you about his day. I wish something like that could work here, but Mini is always happy (at least, that's what he tells me). I'd get a thumbs up even if it was really a thumbs down. We're working on verbalising feelings more though so perhaps it might be something we could use in the future when he can better work out the difference between good and bad.


  5. Kids really can be so cruel can't they? Only yesterday my son told his dad that he won't go in goal anymore because one of the boys told him he was "rubbish" at it. Really breaks your heart doesn't it? At 5 years old, I would have thought Smurfs are very okay. You did the right thing acknowledging his feelings though and jealousy probably was at the root of it. Thank you for linking up :)

  6. School is such a minefield isn't it. You are forced to try and fit in with everyone else's idea of what's cool and you lack the experience to know how to respond to bullying. Sounds like Mini's has a perceptive mentor in you - he'll gradually work his way through these early years and grow in resilience - he's obviously loved very much.