I'm generally a fan of letting kids work things out for themselves. If I had a nickel for every time I told my kids to just "work it out" and quit tattling, I'd be a rich woman.
But there are also times when I feel like my kids might be too young or unable to fend for themselves. Finding that line is sometimes hard.
Oddly enough, I'd read stories from two friends yesterday about their kids getting "bullied" at school (I use "" because they're kindergartners and it's not really big-time bullying but just acting "not nice"). I remember reading thinking "I'm glad we don't have to go through that yet".
And then Matthew told us something last night that really bothered me.
He said that he's been upset at school because of some behavior/bullying he's experiencing by the other kindergarten boys in school.
Before lunch, the kid all line up and go to the bathroom. They can just wash their hands or go potty and wash their hands. He always goes potty (totally my kid).
He said when he pulls down his pants the other boys all start saying things like "Butt Cheeks!" and then slapping him on the butt. He had tears in his eyes as he described it and seemed most upset not at the behavior (that kind of silly potty behavior is pretty common in our house, I know that), but that they were singling him out and being mean just to him.
He said other boys go potty too but they don't do it to them, just to Matthew. I asked for names and he named a few but seemed unsure if he should tell me or which boys are involved. I asked him if he tells them to stop and he said yes but they don't stop. I also asked if he told his teacher and he said that she's not there then, so he hasn't told a grown up.
We had a long talk about how he needs to be more firm in telling them NO and that he will go find a teacher if they don't stop.
He agreed to do it, but it bothered me enough (I think it's the naked/bathroom thing that bothers me a bit more than if it were any other place) that I emailed his teacher to let her know and ask her advice on how to handle it. She emailed back this morning thanking me for bringing it to her attention and stressing that he was right to come to me, and I to her, and that she would talk to Matthew and inform the hall monitor about it as well.
She said something that also struck me as interesting. They had a guest speaker come in this week to talk about tattling versus telling and when to know the difference. It's quite possible that Matthew was afraid to be tattling on them and that's why he hasn't said anything until now.
I think explaining it in those terms is great for kids, and helping them to know when to tattle and when to tell.
I'm not sure if emailing his teacher was the right thing, but I'm still glad I did it, I like and respect her very much and I know she takes good care of our kids. I trust her to help me ensure Matthew's safety and well-being when I"m not there, and as a first-time kindergarten mom, that kind of reassurance when someone is making my baby sad is important to me.
On a personal level, I just want to burst into tears thinking that anyone could ever be mean or pick on my sweet little guy. He is sent straight from heaven to love everyone and he's so sweet and sensitive. I knew that he'd have his heart broken a thousand times in his life because of how loving and sensitive he is, I just never thought it would happen in kindergarten.