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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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Greetings, I believe that my son, is being mentally bullied

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I believe that my son, is being mentally bullied in school by a peer in 4th Grade. He goes to a private school, and it seems strange to me that the other child's behavior is not checked by the teachers. (I have heard that this child has been mean to/teased a couple other boys too.)

Obviously, the following is hearsay from my son. I would value your opinion as to how to proceed.
Just one scenario: J spoke of how, when outside at lunch, he got up to get something. Upon his return, S had taken his seat. Upon explanation that he'd been sitting there, S retorted: "Use your feet and lose your seat". When my son could not persuade him to let him return to his seat, and went to 'tell the teacher', S persuaded all the friends to vacate to another bench, and my son returned to be alone at that original bench.
I share this scenario, as it is indicative of the ongoing situation, and also the other child's ability to persuade other class mates to do his bidding.
My son, who is certainly sometimes over-sensitive, has got to the stage that he has asked me to look into the possibility of moving him to another school.
I have previously spoken to the teacher, who while aware of the other child's personality, (S is in the closely linked but separate other 4th Grade class), but says that she doesn't see the problem my son often speaks of, as she is not often on playground duty very much.
I am leery to address the issue with the child's parents as his mother has historically been defensive and adamant that HER child is above reproach.
I am under no illusion that my son is angelic, but both my husband and I are very concerned for our son's mental well being. My feeling is that agreeing to move J to another school and not actively addressing the ongoing problem may just perpetuate a victim mentality in my son, and lower his self-confidence with peers . I have suggested that we web search how to address bullying online, and speak once again to his teacher. Any additional suggestions will be appreciated.
thank you. PN
I think that first of all, you should take this up with the teacher, and if you get no satisfactory response, escalate it to the Head of the School. They have a duty to deal with it. Ask the school management exactly what they are going do about it -in detail - and when they are going to do it. They may ask you for time to consider their best options, and that's fine but tell them you expect an answer within, let's say, 72 hours. That puts them on the spot and makes them commit to action.

Explain to your son, too, how proud you are of him for having stood up for himself, especially in the face of being left alone by his classmates. Make sure he understand that in these situations HE is the winner, not the bully who tried - and failed - to make him do something which he did not want to do. You might mention too that the others who went along with the bully probably did so because they are scared of him, even if they will not admit it.

You will, I am sure, find this website useful:

You might also like to let your son use this tool to build up hes self confidence:

This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.

Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you and discuss with your therapist.

Look at yourself in a mirror and read it out loud to yourself. Listen to your voice grow in strength and volume so that you can really start to feel it inside. In the beginning, you may feel silly or embarrassed. You may hear the inner voice say, "That's not the truth". Just hang in there and keep doing it - you'll notice the change within six weeks, if you do it regularly.

1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I

do, say, think or feel.

2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.

3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.

4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.

5. I have the right to say NO.

6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.

7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say NO.

8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.

9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.

10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.

11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.

12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.

13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.

14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

Best wishes, NormanM

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