Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The pep talk on The Bully

Remember the post on Isaac being 6 years old already? I mentioned that Isaac's just had a pep talk on how to deal with bullies...

This came earlier than we expected it to. We thought it'd only happen in primary school, but no. Where there are children, there would be bullies. Apparently, one of Isaac's classmates is something of a bully/irritant/socially inept boy. He looks pretty normal and harmless to me. But I have heard from Isaac, some of the other kids, and even another kid's mom, that this particular boy, is indeed quite ill mannered and obnoxious to everyone. So at least I know that Isaac isn't making things up, nor is he being singled out. Even the teacher admitted that this boy was ill mannered.

A week before our Dinosaur Party in school, Isaac suddenly told me that he changed his mind, that he didn't want the dinosaur party to be in school anymore. I asked him why. He said "Because The Boy will destroy it!" and he started to weep bitterly. Yes, drama. I tried to ask him what sort of negative behaviour does The Boy exhibit but Isaac didn't know how to describe to me - other than showing me a rude (kiam4 pa4) face, which he says "The Boy always does that!". Nevertheless, I quickly assured him that hubbs and I would be present, and so if the boy starts to 'destroy' anything, we will stop him. Thankfully everyone was very well behaved at the party. But it kind struck me how bothered Isaac was by this boy.
Stern faced Isaac! :p
Picture by Orange Studios - Read our Orange Studios post!
A few nights ago, we were playing a board game with the kids after dinner, and... I'm not sure how the conversation started, but suddenly Isaac revealed the reason (or perhaps one of the reasons) why he was very frustrated with The Boy...

Isaac:"He says that I'm a girl!"
Me: " Is it true?"
Isaac: "No!" *incredulously*
Me: "Exactly! It's not true. So just tell him to stop saying that."
Isaac :"I did! But he still keep saying!"
Me: "Just ignore him, don't listen to him."
Isaac: "But he keeps saying it! I say to stop, but he still say!"
Me: "Did you tell Teacher Joranna about this?"
Isaac: "Teacher Joranna says not to tell her if people call you names. She say, please settle it yourself."
Me: "Right... she is right though, you must learn to deal with it yourself... So, er, try not to play with The Boy too much."
Isaac: "I didn't! I try to avoid him, but he will keep coming to me!
Me: "So you try to avoid him but he still finds you?"
Isaac: "Yes! When we go to different corners to do things, he will ask Teacher Joranna if he can change corner, then he will come to my corner!"
Me: "Then you ask Teacher Joranna if you can change corner, then you change to a different corner?"
Isaac:"I tried that already! Then he will change corner and follow me!!!"
Hubbs & Me:"Maybe he just wants to be your friend?"
Isaac:"But he keeps saying me!!!"

At this point, he was so upset he was almost tearing. I felt so sorry for him that I simply said:" Do you want a hug?" He nodded, hurried over, hugged me and sat on my lap. I felt so sorry for him Not because someone called him names, but because, I could feel his sense of helplessness... That he had tried everything he thought to do, but still nothing solved his problem. I also felt a bit sad that I knew I couldn't protect my child from everything in the world - he would need to learn to fend for himself. He needs to learn how to deal with it...

After he calmed down somewhat, we continued our discussion...

Me: " Does The Boy say mean things to other people too?"
Isaac: "Yes. He quarrels with everyone and call people names."
Me: "Ah... so what do other people do?"
Isaac: "They also call him to stop, but he doesn't stop. Especially The Girl, he always quarrels with The Girl. They call each other names all the time, because he starts first, so The Girl fed up, and started calling him names also."
Me: "Really? What do they call each other?"
Isaac: "He calls her The Naughtiest Girl, she calls him the Most Horrible Boy. He says she is Miss Ugly Pony Tail and she calls him The Boy with the Smelliest Mouth... and many others; I cannot remember all."
Me: "So all these names they call each other, is it true? Not true, right?"
Isaac: "Yeah... not true... oh except that The Boy really does have a very smelly mouth - coz he doesn't brush his tongue!"
Me: "Riiiight... But the point is, The Boy calls The Girls names which are not true. Just like he calls you names which are not true. So... you don't need to worry about other people thinking whether those things he says are not true. Next time, if he calls you names again, just tell him "Please stop calling me these names, because they are all not true."
Isaac is silent and mulls it over for a while...
Me: "So The Boy calls everyone names and quarrels with them?"
Isaac: "Yes, nobody likes him. Everyone ignores him because he is so irritating."
Me: "Do you think it is nice when nobody likes you and everyone ignores you?"
Isaac: "Not nice..."
Me: "Yes, it's not nice at all. So maybe The Boy is trying to make friends, but he doesn't know how. He only knows how to call people names and quarrel with people because that's the only way people will pay attention to him?"

Isaac looks a little stunned...
Me: "We cannot control how other people behave, but we can control our own reactions to them. So perhaps, what you can do is, the next time The Boy behaves well, you can compliment him by telling him something like. "It's nice when you behave like that, let's play together." you know, like how we tell Asher & Shawna that they are behaving well, to encourage them..."
Isaac: "Oh! Last week The Boy behave well for 3 days!"
Me: "Wow! You see, that's not so bad. So you can try to encourage him to behave well all the time!"
Isaac: "Okay... Can we continue playing this game now?"
Me: "Oh, okay. So... you feel better now?"
Isaac: "Yes, Mummy. I wish we had this talk earlier."

That's when I almost cried.

And that's when it struck me, that as my babies grow up, we may be faced with more and more of such 'problems'. Where matters are not as easily resolved as it may involve other people... People we have no control over. People who may be mean to my child simply because they feel like being so. All we can do is to pray that they meet nice people throughout their lives... and to teach them how to deal with it.


  1. Aww...I nearly shed a tear too at the end of your post. You're right, we can't control what other people choose to do, and we can't control the punishment /consequence (if any) they receive too, but we can control our emotions and learn to deal with the unhappiness the best we can. If THE BOY's motivation is indeed attention, wonder if ignoring and smiling like a silly idiot would help in this case...Hmm...just a thought. :P

    1. Hahaha June, thanks for reminding me, I did ask Isaac to just laugh it off. But Isaac misconstrued it as laughing AT the boy, so I didn't press on that point much. Was afraid it'd end up as Isaac taunting The Boy.

  2. Your ending was really moving! As our kids grow older, the conversations definitely get more tricky but they are so important. So glad that you began to chat with him about it. I see it as a beginning of conversing about issues that they find hard and for you to be the one that they turn to. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! I really hope that if and when he experiences issues like that in future, he will talk to us. Communication is very important!

  3. My tears welled up at the last bit of the conversation. I hope my kids know that I will always be there for them to listen them out as they grow up and face more and more challenges.

    Thanks for sharing, Pam!

    1. I teared when he said it. I teared when I wrote the post. And I teared when I read it again. No, I'm not a crybaby!!! :p


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