Q&A: My Son is Being Picked On … What Do I Do?
A reader asks, “I am looking for some advice to help my son deal with children who are unkind. He is 6 years old and in 1st Grade now. He is a very bright and kind child. He is having difficulty learning to stick up for himself. He tells me that he is not brave enough. I have coached him with things to say and encouraged him to avoid certain children that he feels affect him in a negative way.
My heart is breaking watching him sob.
Generally speaking there has been a little girl since preschool every year who has given him trouble. Not the same girl, but a different one each year. He is a very sensitive child and he is having a hard time dealing with people who hurt his feelings. I am considering having him speak to the guidance counselor to see if there are any skills they can share to help him feel safe when he needs to stand up for himself.
As he was crying and we were talking he actually pulled a piece of hair out of my head and ask to put it in a plastic bag and for me to kiss it. I think I have raised him to rely on me for his bravery. I really need assistance in figuring out ways to help him cope. Thank you.”
Poor kid! It’s hard when you don’t feel safe and happy where you are spending so much time. Some really nice kids seem to get picked on a lot and it’s a shame.
First, I would explain to him that people are like chickens, they peck on those they perceive to be weak or different. You could even look up some videos about this. Explain that he’s going to have to learn to look like a big rooster, to fluff up his feathers and be bold, because nobody picks on those roosters.
Help him with his body language. Teach him how to sit strong, with knees apart, elbows spread, and leaning back. Show him how to walk boldly, striding with his head up, and arms swinging slightly. Help him to hold his hands in a manly way. Some kids will pick this stuff up by just watching others, but some will need to be shown. Weirdly, taking a strong stance can make the body release hormones that make you feel more confident!
Then, help him role play some strong and confident responses to things people might say to him. Take turns being the one picked on and help him to practice firm, confident, funny, even somewhat aggressive responses depending on the situations he might face.
Pray with him. Encourage him. Praise him. Being teased and picked on is tough on you. It’s easy for kids to think something is wrong with them instead of realizing that the one being unkind is the one with a problem.
Do consider homeschooling, if you possibly can. I can’t tell you how much more healthy the kid-to-kid interactions tend to be when the parents are always around. It has been amazing to me how little angst our children have had about other children. It’s a breath of fresh air!
I’m so sorry you are both dealing with this. It’s not easy being a kid or a parent, is it?
Hal & Melanie