Blog provided by Jen Davis, Health Educator at Women’s Health Clinic.
People with titles can be intimidating and they can say things about our children that hurt, and make us think that we are doing something wrong. Remember, people with titles are just people. They have education and experience and often have valuable things to offer. But they also have opinions and perspectives and beliefs. They are not infallible and they too are tired and frustrated and affected by the pandemic.
Sometimes our child does need to have their behaviour corrected, but it might not be you or your child that is doing anything wrong. It is important to not necessarily believe everything you hear or read.
You know your child best and a “bad” comment or report can affect how we (or others) see our children, which can, in turn, affect our children.
I recently received a scathing e-mail from the school lunch program school telling us how horrendously our “bullying” child was acting and threatening to remove them.
Initially we were embarrassed, worried, frustrated and wanting to make it better. Then we thought it through. Yes, our child could be stubborn and a bit of a handful at times, but if treated respectfully, they usually react well.
So, we took the time to let it settle (ie. not be so upset or angry) and then to respond thoughtfully.
- We thanked the person for taking the time to write.
- We highlighted all of the behavioural problems that our six-year old had allegedly shown and expressed how difficult it must be to monitor such behavior.
- Then we asked about timing.
- If our child was acting so badly in the lunch program, why was this the first we heard of it?
- For successful communication, parents need to know what is happening early on.
- Then we asked for a meeting. Not with just the lunch room monitor, but also with the teacher and the principal.
- If the behavior is as bad as indicated, we clearly need to have a plan that includes us, the school and the lunch program.
By taking the time to process the information, and by including other stakeholders on the e-mail (yes, we cc’d the principal and the classroom teacher) we got a very satisfactory resolution.
The next e-mail response backpedaled everything.
- the behavior wasn’t really that bad.
- there were worse kids in the room.
- we will find a solution.
The teacher and the principal met with us and we sorted out that the problem was partly our child’s high energy, the combination of our child and two other children who were left to get out of hand, and the inability of the lunch program to effectively deal with a room full of grade 1 students. There was a small issue that we dealt with and a large over-exaggeration on the part of the lunch monitor.
When I saw the parent of another “misbehaving” child a few days later, she said that she got an e-mail too. She needs the lunch program for her work and felt she had to reprimand her child for their bad behavior and hoped it didn’t get bad enough for the child to be removed from the program.
The intimidation tactic “worked” on her.
If we choose to believe the words of others without checking in with ourselves or our children, we loose valuable opportunities to support our kids and to provide a better environment and world for them. Word can get around quickly when a child is labelled as a “problem”.
So, when someone says something “bad” about you or your child, do some checking. Is it consistent with what you have seen or what you know? Have others said it? How is the info being presented?
Stay as calm as you can and include others in the communication to help you and your child.
 Bullying is a very real issue, but is often misrepresented. Bullying must include a clear desire to intimidate and must be an issue that has present over a great deal of time.