We tend to walk home from school with the same children every day. Generally, it went well. Not all the children were the greatest of friends in school. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that they didn’t get on, but with more choice of companions in the class, they picked other children to hang around with. Obviously, there was the odd disagreement, but fairly infrequent.
Then some time last year things changed. Occasionally another child would join us and J had problems with that child ganging up on him with the others. Then it seemed to spread, it was like the other children had learnt that J was a good child to pick on. They ganged up on him. He complained about been hit or kicked.
So soon J was getting upset most days about what was happening on the way home. He isn’t very articulate when he’s upset, so it’s difficult to work out what was happening there and then. The other children weren’t always told off by their parent, partly because what happened often started when the children were walking behind the adults.
We talked about it; developed strategies; and we had some success. More incidents happened in front of the parents, so more action was taken the children who started things. Another child walked with us one day and got the same treatment as J, but was more articulate when upset and got the message across. Action was taken. At the end of the last school year, things seemed to be working better.
Then we had the holidays and J seems to have forgotten the techniques and strategies that worked for him. We are working on them again, but it’s taking a while. How difficult is it trying to help children deal with difficult social situations?
Is it bullying? It does feel a bit like it, but I don’t want to label small children as bullies, when they are still working out how to behave. It needs to stop though.