hello, i'm looking for some advice (and probably support too). my child - year 8 - is involved in an activity that brings him into contact with a teacher who treats him terribly almost certainly because the teacher doesn't like those confident, bright, quirky, or talented kids. (One of those adults who refuses to acknowledge the kids who do well and insists on taking them down a peg or two, often via public humiliation). my boy likes the activity and other kids there so wants to keep going and gets upset at the thought of us stopping the activity. but every day i find myself in constant tears over yet another act from this anti-tall-poppy so and so. nothing we have tried so far has changed this behaviour.
it's to the point where my functioning is affected, (household chores not done etc) as i hate hate hate my boy going to this activity and feel so helpless. DS knows that he is treated poorly and believe me it hurts but he can't bring himself to leave the friends he finds there (and doesn't find elsewhere) so he tolerates it. he has no friends outside of the activity.
i'd like to know what others think of this. from experience, do you think that maybe parents feel the hurt more than the kids when adults are nasty? i know this hurts my child but it's so hard to gauge how much because my child is so scared of us taking him away from his friends that he downplays the teacher's attitude towards him. well he doesn't downplay it so much as choose to tolerate it. dh is feeling the pain that i am feeling but also sees that ds doesn't want to stop going.
i think i want someone to tell me that my boy will be fine and children are resilient and it can't be that bad if he wants to keep going and that as his mum i'm probably more upset than he is. because it's killing me. some days it's such a struggle to even get out of bed because i'm scared of how my boy is going to be treated.
Isn't it fantastic that your son has found an activity and friends that he enjoys so much that he'll put up with anything to keep going??
I think you could be right that it is worse for you than him because I honestly think that if it was affecting him as much he wouldn't want to carry on. And it could be not just that children can be more resilient than adults but maybe some personality types - you know how some people are really wounded by the smallest comments and others don't seem fazed even by downright meanness?
Have you talked to your son about how you feel when he is treated that way? Maybe his response to that may give you more info than when you actually ask about him?
This is not from experience so may be of no use. I can only imagine how hard it is to feel that your child is being mistreated and also the frustration that they can't see the great things in your child that you see.
I actually don't think you should unload your feelings onto him. Why should he give up an activity and friends he enjoys because he feels guilty that something which doesn't even bother him is getting under mum's skin? (Of course, different if what the teacher is doing is actually going to damage him, but its probably not a big deal to him from what you say) If he is keen to continue, let him. maybe you need to not hang around watching/listening but drop and go ? (depends on the activity I guess) I was an awful one for hanging around angsting and helicoptering when my DS was small, and I totally cringe about it in retrospect, i should have just gone away and had a coffee or something and left him to it. This needs to be about him, not you. If he is fine, you can let it go.
Thanks so much for the posts. I'm getting that my boy is not as upset as I am over all of this ...
Marse21, you will be right - if it was that bad he wouldn't want to carry on, would he? I absolutely love your first line - that's how I need to think - isn't it fantastic he has an activity he likes so much he will tolerate anything to go? I'm going to think of that everytime something happens and I get upset. Hopefully it will help. I'd been thinking how sad it is that he is so lonely at school he puts up with cruel adults out of school just to be around children who are like him. Your framing is much better.
L - I've been a 'drop and go' parent for some time. I used to stay but now I rarely stay and although I sometimes see things at pick-up etc, I usually hear about what happens from other kids there, and a couple of other, nice, parents who stay for the social contact or because they have younger kids there. Sometimes my boy volunteers info; he always confirms what others tell me. I've even had parents who witness things tell me to get him out of there; he certainly wouldn't be the first to leave if I did remove him. It's just darn hard figuring out how meaningful my feelings are. I can see now that if he wants to keep going it can't be that bad, but OTOH, surely I, as his mother, wouldn't feel so bad about it unless I knew at some level that this isn't good for him?
Being a sensitive / aware person I've realised part of my own learning is to trust my feelings, because for me, they are spot on, the first time I feel them particularly about people. I've doubted myself, thought my way through and away from gut instincts, only to realise, way down the track, I was actually right and should figure out a way to work with that instinct when it first arises.
The strong reaction you're describing, seems to me to be a warning sign. It also sounds like some symptoms that could be depression (I am not diagnosing..just speaking from personal experience, and I am a nurse; perhaps something to think about if you haven't already).
Is there a way to keep your son in this activity, and use it to teach him about how to deal with people that are mean like this - is he open to talking more to you about it and using strategy to get through the tougher moments with this lady?
Or could you start a break-away group of other kids / parents who are also unhappy with this lady's behaviour and form your own activity, even if its something a bit different, but with some of the same kids?
Is there someone above this lady you could make a complaint to, with backing from other parents, as she seems to be abusing a privileged role. You wouldn't be popular, but if she went, and someone else stepped in, things may improve a lot.
Feeling helpless is a hard place to function well from. Sometimes I have said to my young son when things are pretty bad with school, "I know things are tough right now, but I'm working on a solution, hang in there and things will improve". And then I set to making some changes. I feel more powerful and in control, and my son can see that I'm not going to let a bad situation just keep on happening.
This is such an awful position to be in, my ds is a sensitive soul and probably would be in tears.
In the past I have taken the attitude where I have used this sort of situation as a teaching tool to make him realise that yes we do have to deal with these sorts of people in life. However we recently had an incident at school where he and others were being unnecessarily picked on by their teacher (backed up by other kids and parents). I went ahead and made a complaint, at his pleading after two hours of tears. Nothing was really done about it, however the teacher no knows we are watching and things have improved.
I realised that I am his only advocate and it was time I started to teach him that I have his back, no matter what. I have realised that if I don't teach him this now and have him trust enough in me to come to me, then I certainly won't get it when the big issues arise in the teenage years.
It's heartbraking being a parent at times. Teachers can have a huge impact on children (I think back to my own time) which can affect their self esteem.
Good luck I hope you are able to resolve this - no one deserves to be bullied.
Nikki - I think you might be right about the depression. I know that it can be associated with feeling so helpless and that's how I feel - powerless to help my son. If it doesn't improve I will seek help.
Yes, children do have to learn to deal with this but I find it difficult to think of a strategy. My own response would be to ignore it and not waste any time or emotional resources on such a person. But how do you teach a child to do that? While we're still there we're working on the strategy of focussing on the positives - the other kids etc. It's a difficult balance - learning to cope with such situations, and, realising when something has become completely untenable.
Marshe - I agree, kids need to know we have their backs. And they also need us to make the tough decisions. If it doesn't improve - soon - we are going to move him. Tough decision but we learned last week that a friend of his there is also thinking of moving (because of this issue) and Mum and I might look together.
We're a little hopeful that there might be improvement soon though as I had a phone call from another tutor wanting to know what was going on because a parent had raised it with her out of concern. I don't know if this will help the situation or not but it did help me realise that what is happening is not just my own perception.
Thanks for the update, it sounds as though you have some forward movement! This could be very helpful having several options develop, especially with the phone call from the other tutor. She cared enough to call you and get more information.
Just a note on depression and how it happened for me; I didn't think I was depressed. I am an upbeat person that has worked well in many really stressful situations, and I am naturally positive. However, after an operation and long recovery and some emotional issues around that, I found myself crying a lot. I had a discussion with a friend who knows depression well, and she described herself when not on medication as being unable to untangle all the thoughts inside her head (about different issues) and make sense of it well. Everything seemed to be a bit foggy, and there was no 'spring in her step'. She had described how I was feeling exactly, so I went to the Dr. and was diagnosed, put on medicine for a few years, and now I am back to normal (for me!). What IS normal? I didn't want the label, or to admit I wasn't coping, but I needed that help at the time, and I am so glad I got it. i also think I was, and still am, so tired, really tired, from parenting this gorgeous 2e kid that is challenging and so full of energy. It can take a lot out of us.