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Mom gives daughter "taste of her own medicine" about bullying

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Her method might not be approved of by some, but apparently it worked. What impressed me was that the mother at least decided to do something!

http://xfinity.comcast.net/video/Mom-gives-bully-daughter-taste-of-her-own-medicine/30774339870/Comcast/Today_in_Video/?cid=hero_sf_TIV
#1 - May 20, 2013, 12:49 PM

Liz
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I read the article and at least thought, well there is one mother taking care of her daughter's bullying instead of making excuses for 'her poor little darling.'  Actually, I thought it was a good way to make a child of that age to "walk in someone else's shoes" so to speak.    I almost never read the comment, but up near the top of the story when I read it another mother said her son punched a boy for wearing a purple shirt, along with his other school punishments, she made him wear the same purple shirt to school five days in a row. 

In Nashville, TN most of the public schools have gone to uniforms, simple uniforms, for this very reason.  The wide diversity of income in some of the schools and especially the magnet schools, stops this form of bullying.  I never thought I would see the day I would think uniforms in public schools would work, but after subbing in schools with the uniforms and in schools without the uniforms it was amazing how much better behaved the students were wearing the uniforms.  The uniform are collared t-shirts, pants, skirts or jumpers and the school decides whether they want to wear black, navy blue or tan pants and then decide on a shirt color.   Almost all the teachers end up wearing the same thing with the name of the school embroidered on their shirts.  It seemed to bring the schools much closer together.  Not saying there were no problems, but trust me from a substitute point of view the schools with uniforms were better behaved than the ones without in almost all cases.

#2 - May 21, 2013, 04:46 AM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.lizstrawwrites.com/

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I can see the advantage of uniforms, especially since there are pieces that you can mix and match rather than just the old formal blazer type. Sure would make deciding what to wear each day easier as well as equalizing things.
#3 - May 21, 2013, 08:09 AM

What a bizarre thing to do.  Kid bullies others so . . . Mom says "Let's see if YOU like wearing ugly, unfashionable clothing just like so-and-so."  I felt bad for the Mom who seemed pretty upset, and I'm glad she didn't just let it slide, but . . . teaching your child to respect others' feelings by targeting his/her pride doesn't seem the most effective route.  ?  It might be a bit late to try to develop kindness and empathy in that child, but surely such a negative experience with the whole concept wasn't the way.

I know we've had this discussion on this board before, long ago, but--
--Maybe this child is feeling really bad about herself for some reason, so she's finding a weaker target to take it out on.  If so, the child needs some help/counseling perhaps?
--Maybe this child is just "mean" and enjoys watching other people suffer and/or feeling powerful.  If so, the child really does need some help/counseling.

Either way, it wasn't about the clothes.
#4 - May 21, 2013, 08:31 AM

Liz
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No, I don't think it was just about the clothes either.  Bullies like power and they want the power because they want to stand out and don't know how else to do it, they feel inadequate in other areas. 
#5 - May 21, 2013, 11:36 AM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.lizstrawwrites.com/

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I wouldn't have thought this was so bad to do IF it wasn't televised. Not only does she violate her daughter's privacy, but also the privacy of the bullied girl. You can blur out the face, but all the kids know who it is. It's like she wants to make sure that everyone knows she could never raise a bully. I feel bad for her daughter -- that she has a mom who doesn't believe she can learn from listening. Only humiliation will do.

#6 - May 21, 2013, 12:40 PM

I wouldn't televise my parenting because I think it's an invasion of privacy. However... I do think some kids don't learn by listening. When mine were smaller I talked until I was blue in the face and it didn't make a dent. They could not internalize that having a bad day/ feeling badly/ wanting something/ disagreeing does not give one the right to behave badly toward others.

But, one day, kinda by accident, my beloved decided the kiddos needed to stop taking their middle-class privileges for granted. He brought home a large jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread just like they give out at the food pantry and that's what the little dears ate until they could find their manners. It didn't take long and after that all we had to do was put the peanut butter on the counter and the argument/attitude/selfishness was over.

#7 - May 21, 2013, 01:24 PM
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 11:53 PM by christine »

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Kudos to your husband, Christine!  :muscles I'm so tired of TV and books portraying kids who are allowed to run over their parents or other adults. Or worse, their actions are portrayed as funny. I refuse to allow my main characters to carry on like that.
#8 - May 21, 2013, 07:00 PM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
Just Left of Lucky (2018)
 www.diannawinget.com

Christine - that's fabulous! (Except, my middle child only eats bread and peanut butter, so sadly she would be thrilled).
You know what, honestly, I'm gonna sound bad here, but I think sometimes it is about the stupid clothes. I went to a private school that ran the gamut of moneyed to not moneyed. We were somewhere in the middle. And the girls would, as girls that age do, decide what was in and what wasn't. And what's worse - once something was "in" if you wore it, you were copying them. Even if all of America was wearing it. Yes, it was a more subtle way of making a club and excluding others, but these weren't damaged kids for the most part. I knew them well enough to tell you that. They were kids finding their place in the pecking order and clothes was a great way to do that.
My kids' school does have uniforms and is a far kinder place. But, some girls still pull their stuff, but they can't use clothes so they use pop music, or whatever tool they have to make some kids in and others out. Again, these are loved, healthy kids. But someone needs to gently show them that they are hurting others. Or, if that doesn't work, smack them upside the head (metaphorically) till they do.

Maybe wearing the ugly clothes does help that kid walk in the other kids' shoes and feel what it would be to be "on the outs" for a day. Maybe not, but I applaud the idea of trying things till they work. I do think some kids act out of pain themselves. But some kids are just clueless, or more concerned about their own social standing to care about how someone else feels. And sometimes unconventional methods are called for.
#9 - May 21, 2013, 10:11 PM
Robin

I guess the reason I say it's not about the clothes is this:

(quoting you, Robin) But, some girls still pull their stuff, but they can't use clothes so they use pop music, or whatever tool they have to make some kids in and others out.

I think it's those "some girls" that I'm talking about.  Kids seem to be able to be mean about any number of things--this time it's clothes or looking like "a slob" (as the girl in the news story apparently said to her classmate), or it's about hair or brain power or not liking the right TV show or whatever.

So emphasizing the "Thing" (the clothing or X) seems inappropriate, since that's not really the root of the problem.  Saying "How'd you like to wear ugly things?" seems to be saying (to me) "You are right--Sheila DOES wear ugly clothing!  How'd you like to be her for a week?  Some people have to wear ugly clothing and they deserve our pity!  Poor them!  They don't deserve our bullying!  We judge them to ourselves, not to their faces!"

If your kid is 12 and you've not addressed the whole kindness thing before . . . I just fear it might be too late.  It might take some pretty hard knocks in life to turn the callous person who was never taught to truly care for others into a nice adult.  It happens, sure.  I think it's rare though, and takes events of Ebenezer Scrooge proportions.

Not to get into a huge parenting discussion, but . . . oh, I have such a hard time with mean kids.  I'd like to think no kids are truly mean, but I can't.  All girls of around 13 get really judgmental all of a sudden, if you ask me--it's part of them establishing in their own heads who they are and what they do/don't believe in.  But that usually manifests itself in being a bit obnoxious, picky, negative, no?  Not torturing classmates.  I feel like if your kid is picking on other children (tormenting them for three weeks, as this girl was apparently doing), that is not normal, healthy, or something that good people do--because their heart stops them first.  To me, it means you have failed somewhere as a parent in not instilling constant empathy and kindness into your child from Day One.  OR your child might have some mental health/psychological issues that need addressing.  In other words, either you've (inadvertently, probably) taught them to be mean over the years, or there's something else going on that could use working on with a therapist (such as abuse that might be happening or something else that's totally out of the kid's power).

So I did feel sorry for the mom in this story, with that shocked look on her face, wondering where she went wrong and how she ended up with a mean kid.  But I feel like her solution to the problem--and the fact that she obviously took pictures of the girl in the outfits (they showed one in the story) and maybe put them on Facebook or something (otherwise how would the news people know about this story?) show that meanness doesn't come from a vacuum.
#10 - May 22, 2013, 05:48 AM

Yeah, you make good points. Mean girls are a real button for me, too.
#11 - May 22, 2013, 07:04 AM
Robin

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I guess a real test about mean girls is how they are behaving twenty+ years down the road.

 Are they still acting like mean 13 year-olds (albiet probably in a more subtle and/or sophisticated manner) or are they embarrassed about how they acted when they were 13 and have since cleaned up their acts?
#12 - May 22, 2013, 08:28 AM

Liz
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I think some mean girls stay mean girls - they just become a little more sophisticated about it.  If you have worked in large offices there is always one woman that has a way of making backhanded compliments.  I always picture her as a teen or pre-teen taking it out on peer in a not so sophisticated manner.   

Most adults however, usually can smile at these women and say things that leave them clueless and then leave them in their own little world.  They do not get the following they had in school. 

I think some bullies do learn to grow up and become well behaved.  Bullies are insecure people.  They find people they feel are weaker than they are and find a way to pick on them.  Sometimes it is about the clothes and if it does bother the child who is wearing the clothes, all the better.  If not that they will find something else to bother that child.  Pushing off on them what they have and that child will never have, anything to get under their skin.

I truly do not understand putting these kinds of story in the media.  No matter what the child states on TV or in the newspaper; I think it would somehow make the child more of a secret bully.  Look what you made happen to me. 

This girl may or may not get it.  Or she will find subtle ways to become a bully.  Ways that will stay with her as an adult.

I only say this as I worked recently with a group of middle school students who really did not grasp that standing by while someone was being bullied was just the same as being the bully especially if they were standing next to the person doing the bullying.  We worked hard on this subject until if finally sunk into most of their minds.  Most of these kids were kids that there parents would say are great kids.  They are, but they didn't comprehend that being an someone who refused to step up and stop the bullying, especially when it was one of their friends doing it wouldn't look cool and therefore it was okay to watch the bullying continue.   (scheesh, I am sleep deprive and I am not sure I am making sense.)
#13 - May 23, 2013, 05:07 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.lizstrawwrites.com/

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I'm not sure what I would have done in the same situation, but I don't think deliberately humiliating your own child is the answer. Because then what does she learn -- that it's OK to humiliate someone if you have some power over them and think that they "deserve" it?

To follow up Liz's comment about kids not comprehending their own complicity, I remember when the movie Mean Girls came out, reading an interview with someone - a research psychologist I think - who said they did an interesting study where they showed that children who were 'bullies' almost never identified themselves with the bully character in a story or movie, even when that character was doing some of the same exact things that they themselves had done. There's some level of cognitive dissonance that somehow shields them from accurately identifying their own behavior. I wish I could find that reference now.
#14 - May 23, 2013, 06:37 PM

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