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October 07, 2009

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Christine

What a stupid game to play in class. Designed to make some kids be left out. Sorry I don't have any suggestions.

Doug (not Muir)

The big fish in a small pond feel threatened by someone who's swum in the ocean. And it sounds like a really stupid game to be playing.

The Halloween party does sound like a good idea. Do you know the kids' parents at all? Are they the kind of parents who want their kids to be open to the world?

Have to think about this a bit more, as it's something our kids might well face down the road, too.

neurondoc

I don't know what to say that could possibly be helpful. I wish that I had a tool that could help my favoritest godson (and, yes, I do have more than one, so Alan has real competition...). When I was a kid and got teased for being different (obvious), I disappeared into books.

neurondoc

And I agree with Christine -- what a particularly moronic game. Sets some kids up to feel great (whaoo for them) and others to feel badly. One can hope that the teacher will learn a lesson from that game, too. And forcing a kid to give a chestnut to someone they don't like is not helpful -- neither the one forced to share nor the one on the receiving end really like it. Phooey on the whole thing.

Larry

Will you kindly just move here and be done with it.

Our schools certainly are have their share of issues but I have noticed more and more jurisdictions in the country are instituting policies which take bullying VERY SERIOUSLY. If the child won't stop then the parents are held accountable.

If all that doesn't work for you, Uncle Larry will come over there and open up a can o whoop ass!

Rachel

Claudia-jan, are there any extra curricular activities that Alan can join or participate in that do not involve kids from his school/class? Like a community swimming club or even a science club? If he can make friends with other kids who have similar interests - that might provide an emotional bulwark to better deal with the kids at school.

Also, if there is a single child he would normally be friends with but finds it hard to be given the negative attention of the others - is there a way to have that child for play dates where they could work on a science project together or something like that?

It just seems like it would be nice for Alan to be reminded by the attention and presence of a peer that he is not weird or different...

Poor boy, he is such a sweetheart, too... it is so hard to be the new kid!

Natalie

Boy, my husband is so helpful. :-P

Ann

Whoo. What an unpleasant situation, for you all to be in. It sounds like a really bad game, reinforcing all the worst aspects of everyone's personalities.

I really feel for Alan -- it's miserable being on the outside looking in, and even worse when those at the centre of the group start throwing stones at you.

I know you've talked to Alan's teacher before, but I'd talk to her again over this particular situation. After all, Alan has come home badly upset from a scheduled school activity (and stayed upset for quite some time). The teacher really needs some feedback on this.

How about some play dates with other kids in the class -- not the bullies (since Alan doesn't want that), but some others that might have some interests in common with him. It probably won't stop the bullying, but it's easier to shrug off if he has a couple of friends.

It seems that Geeks always get bullied by the jocks and popular kids [nothing has changed since I was at school, says Methuselah]; and I think that you're right and Alan needs to build up a toolkit to help him cope with this.
Note: I'm not saying that bullying is acceptable, but that teasing and exclusion are always going to exist in a social group (and easily slide over into bullying), so the reality is that you have to learn to cope.
It isn't easy for Alan, or for you as parents trying to help him build some strategies.

You may have already checked out some literature, but I can recommend a book that I found helpful in understanding what is going on in the classroom [not necessarily fixing it, which is the next step]
"Bullying and teasing: social power in children's groups"
by Gayle L. Macklem

Ana

Hey, Claudia. I've been reading your blog for a while. I don't have much authority to make suggestions on children (I don't have any; too young), but taking him out of school would not be a long-term solution, in my opinion. There will always be bullies in your life. As you grow up, you realize the school ones were not the worst of the indeed.
I can tell the unfairness of the situation is really hurting him and it pains you to see him upset. All that frustration is turning into anger, which is now misdirected. I guess it would be a good idea to channel that aggression towards another activity, sports, for instance. More specifically, I mean some form of martial arts. There is a misconception about them, that they teach violence. This is not true. Primarily, they focus on a philosophy that shows you how to deal with conflict at a psychological level.
Also, with children, there is this very strong desire of validation, of appreciation by others. Growing up, it took me quite a long time to understand that 2 good friends are better than trying to make the whole class like you. Popularity is a superficial goal to strive for.
What I wrote here isn't even a suggestion, it's just an idea. I'm sure Alan will be fine; we've all been in his shoes.

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