Fourth Grade Daughter Bullied at School

My daughter has been distraught all vacation. Apparently things are getting pretty bad with the girls in her class. Yes, she is my only child, and this is only Fourth Grade. Rest assured, I know this is not the end of the world, and I was a girl once too. Christmas really was ruined this year from all the emotions and fear of returning to school with this. Normally I would think of a joke, but she sort of has me worried. OK, should I stay out of it and have her learn to do it herself, help, or go find all of their parents and threaten restraining orders? I would have to say, right off the bat, the restraining orders might be a bit much, but I think you are (partly) kidding on that one anyway. Your best bet is to combine your first two options: teach your daughter what to do for herself and help as well. She needs time at home to release feelings she may have been hiding, and she needs you to listen. Do not let the dialog go on that she is ruining Christmas. She is sad, asking for help, describing what is happening, and now it is time to gear back up for school and how to handle this mess. Because her feelings are this extreme, you have to help. Encourage her to talk, and help her whittle the situation down to some key details. Log the details down together to cut down on extraneous factors to lessen the drama. Once you have the key facts that are bothering her, look through and decide which are in her control and which are not. Some things, and some people, she will never be able to change. She can only help herself, make good decisions on whom she will be friends with, and learn to make herself happy when with her peers. The school should probably be involved at this point as well. You should ask the teacher for a conference and bring your daughter. Teachers really can help shut down a lot of the drama if they know about it. We are with the kids every day and if they are trying out some bullying when we aren’t looking, which is usually when it happens, and we start to get reports every time it happens, it happens less. No child should be depressed, but sometimes kids’ emotions get the best of them. If this sadness continues, even after you and her teacher help her, talk to her pediatrician as well. Perhaps I am making this bigger than it needs to be as well, and if you sense this, you can rest assured that this does happen, but kids learn how to manage it. Talk, listen, and watch her if she remains too emotional. You cannot be on the playground with her, so you have to help her decide what to say, when to walk away, and above all how to recognize those kids who are trying to be mean and hurtful so she can avoid them. Motherly instincts are powerful, so keep yours tuned in and listen to them. You will know what to do. Contact the writer at goasktheteacher@yahoo.com

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