I've been in tears this last week.
My seven year old isn't who he used to be. He's a shadow of his former self and is now anxious, highly sensitive and spends most of his time crying that he hasn't got any friends and doesn't deserve to be loved.
He told me he wishes for a 'long and happy life.'
He's kind, caring and one of the most compassionate people I know. But since he started school he's slowly lost his confidence and his belief in himself. He's too caught up with what other people think of him because he's been bullied over and over.
So - the issue I'm toying with is, will changing schools make things any better?
Home schooling is an option that I'm looking into. For now, I've booked us in to view another school in our area.
I've heard that their approach to bullying works. My son won't be sent away and told to 'stop telling tales'. He will hopefully have a voice that will be heard.
My tears have been for my son, but also for the countless number of kids who are in his position.
Yes, I know that kids can be mean. I understand that it's part of life. Children (and adults) can be upset by something that is said to them.
However, a school environment should be where children can feel safe and happy. That's how they thrive.
Some kids find the classrooms too loud, too overwhelming and too crowded. Some feel like they don't have friends - even my confident six year old told me he spent a whole day with nobody playing with him!
If you're worried about your child then there here are five things to try:
- Monitor their feelings and their behaviour. That's how I picked up that my eldest was being bullied. He'd been at school for just two weeks. His behaviour had completely changed. He was angry, he was emotional and he was starting to say lots of negative things about who he was. If you see a difference in your child's behaviour then talk to them and then the school. Take action that's right for your family.
- Be there for your child as much as you can. Try to spend at least ten minutes of quality time with each child per day, doing something of their choice together. That way you're strengthening the connection you have with them. They'll be more likely to open up and tell you what's going on. I can't always manage this with my three, but it makes such a difference when I do make time.
- Always see the best in your child. It's hard not to fear that they're going to turn into this and that, because they're having a meltdown over school. It's just them trying to cope with their emotions, so talk to them about their emotions. Name what they're feeling, show them compassion for what they're feeling and offer hugs. Please don't punish them or shout at them as this just causes them to stuff their emotions down more and can do so much long-term damage. Remember they're trying to understand everything that's happening to them and their reactions are often a sign they need help.
- Most kids come out of school 'wired' so it's good to give them some sort of release...meditation, exercise, a hobby or quality time with you. That way they can process their day better, instead of bottling things up. Meditation has really helped all of my kids because it helps them relax.
- Praise them for their effort instead of the result. For example, 'I love how you've done lots of lines and colours on that picture' instead of 'what a lovely picture.' Or, 'It's great how you keep on trying with your homework' instead of 'good homework.' They'll develop a sense of worth that's focused on their effort, instead of believing that they are only good if they get a certain grade or comment.
At the end of the day, you know your child better than anyone. You and your family deserve to be happy every day, so trust that you know what's best.
Jaelithe helps you know it's good to be you. Follow her on Facebook for more confidence and happiness tips.