Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bullies Come in All Forms...And Bully in Different Ways

Near the end of the last school year, I picked my 4th grade daughter up some cute tops from Justice. She wanted to spend some birthday money and she was very excited about what she picked out. She wore one top a few times and another only once when I started noticing a change in how she dressed. She wanted to wear dingy cut off jean shorts and only big tshirts such as their field day shirts. I could not get her to wear the cute stuff ever again except when we had the reception after hubby's grandfather died. I KNEW someone had said something to her but I couldn't prove it and she refused to admit to it. She even said she didn't want to wear "girly-girl" clothes, even though she was the one who picked them out.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with my neighbor and she mentioned a mutual friend from the neighborhood who leads a girl scout troop (she's tried to get me and my daughter into her troop but I've held out thinking that we should stay with the one we started with). The leader, Sarah, used to have her daughter in public school and she was friends with my daughter. She said they did some type of presentation last year in their troop where they were discussing a phrase/saying and how it applies to them. They chose "You are what you wear." Well, let me tell you what came out of that discussion. It seems that, at 4th grade level, the girls are already becoming mean girls. They have already divided themselves up into cliques which are set up because of the types of clothes they wear. The girls that wear girly-girl clothes (yes, that was the term she used and it immediately tipped me off!) hang together, the athletic girls hang together and dress that way, and so on. As SOON as she said "girly-girl" I knew I had my answer. It also seems that, if you wear clothes that are not deemed part of your 'group', than you are picked on and harassed. In the 4th grade.  I am just so upset about the whole thing because, I'm sorry, but that behavior is a precursor to bullying.

I love my daughter dearly but she, like I always did, has some self esteem issues. She came out of the womb thinking she was a peer and not a child, so it has been very difficult finding a happy medium of helping her understand that she has to follow authority but keeping her from feeling bad about herself. She tends to take any constructive criticism or redirection as a personal affront to her. She also appears to be somewhat of a follower, which worries me. I worry not only that she is not satisfied with herself and wants to be like these other kids (who I am not so duly impressed with), but also that she would not be strong enough to stand up for someone else who is being picked on. I know she KNOWS it's wrong, but I fear that the "at least it's not me" feeling would kick in. I remember that feeling. I was picked on as a child and I don't want that for her. I was an overly emotional child because of early physical maturity which made all my hormones rage all the time. Now she's going through the same thing. I know I had it rough for a while, but it is just so much worse in this day and time.

I had a meeting with her teachers at the beginning of the year last year about some things and one of the teachers made the comment that there was a group of girls in the class who, had they been in her class when she was a child, would even have intimidated her. Okay, does that not sound like she was hinting that these girls could have been picking on my daughter as early as the beginning of the year? And if they knew that the possibility was there for that long, why was I made to feel at the end of the year meeting like it was going to be my responsibility to get her behavior under control? It now makes me wonder if one of the reasons that she won't talk about it with me is because she lost any respect she had for the teachers because they didn't offer her any help. And if the teachers won't help, and they're actually there to witness things happening, how can mom help? Not that any kid really wants mom to show up at the school anyway. This would also explain a bit why she picks at her brother so much. Yes, I know sisters pick at brothers but she takes it a bit too far sometimes. And she also picks at me. I get the feeling that, because she doesn't feel in control at school, then it's her way of feeling in control here.

Argh!! I am just frustrated and not happy about school starting back in just a few weeks. I have no idea how to get her to see how beautiful she is and to get her to loosen up. She goes to camp next week with a  friend (a Christian camp) and I'm really hoping some of this friend rubs off on her. This child is more self-confident and has more a "whatever happens is fine" mentality than my daughter. She auditioned for Seussical when I did but didn't get a part. Her mom said she was upset for about 10 minutes, but then she was over it and on with her life. My daughter would have been distraught for weeks and wallowed in it. Do you have a confident child? Are there any tips or things you think help that child be more confident?

As an afterthought, you know what's really crazy? My son is TOTALLY not like this at all. He's much more like my daughter's friend. He gets upset for a while but usually just throws it off. He has had a bit more episodes of crying lately but I wonder if he and his sister just need a break from each other (yahoo camp!).


Michele said...

That sounds really rough and I feel so bad for your daughter. It is so wrong for these things to happen but I know they do. Perhaps there is something that your daughter might excel in that no one else does that can help boost her self esteem.

And I guess right at the moment I'm glad my kids wear uniforms to school.

Maria Kievit said...

I have 5 children, and I see the same things happen with them. They try so hard to have friends in elementary school, and it always seems like they are the last to be picked. Our youngest is still in elementary school (going into gr 7 in Sept) and her attitude is also very depressing. She claims that no one likes her, or no one will sit or talk with her. I know that she has some friends, but most of them at this age are very fickle. I can't wait till she gets to high school, and finds friends she really can hang out with and be herself with. Even though most of her friends right now also go to our church, I can see that they are not really there for my daughter. She's not much of the clothing personality, ie she doesn't really care what she wears, but for her it's the friendships she doesn't think she has. Hopefully in later years she will find true friends. Self esteem is the hardest to come by! Sorry for 'rambling' here, but it's a subject close to my heart also. There is too much bullying going on in today's world.