Teasing and Bullying… in Kindergarten?

The shirt in question, courtesy of Mini Boden

Earlier this week, my 5-year-old son came home from kindergarten rather upset. When I asked how his day had been, he said that it was “half good, half bad.” He loves his new school, likes his teachers and has made fast friends, so I was surprised to hear that his day hadn’t gone all that well. When I asked about the “bad” part of his day, he said that a group of kids (including his new bestie) had been teasing him throughout the day about his shirt, which featured a ketchup bottle.

What could they have had to say about a pretty innocuous shirt, I wondered? Especially from kindergarteners who most likely love ketchup just as much as my son? Apparently they had spent the day making squirting and slurping noises. I dunno. It seems totally silly, but my son took it very seriously (he’s definitely on the sensitive side) and looked at me teary-eyed, declaring that he would never wear that shirt to school again.

My husband and I were pretty mystified by the whole thing. We get it–yes, kids tease each other. And we as a family (gently) tease each other as well. But it seems to morph very easily into something else at school, when a number of kids join in on the teasing. I don’t think that this qualifies as bullying (or does it?), and it’s not like my son was afraid to go to school the next day or anything, but I was dismayed to see that he could be made to feel so poorly by other 5-year-olds, including ones he has become very friendly with.

He’s our oldest child, so we’re feeling a little clueless at the moment–more surprised than anything by how different the dynamics of kindergarten are than pre-K. I spoke with my son about how silly it all was (don’t they all love ketchup too? didn’t you love the shirt when you picked it out?), but I know that this is likely just the beginning of these kinds of episodes–and I have no doubt that my son will also be guilty of teasing someone else over something silly at some point.

Did your kids experience similar teasing or even bullying as early as kindergarten? If so, how did you handle it?

 

Comments

  1. Rochelle L says:

    My son used to bring prunes in his lunch – he doesn’t eat much fruit, and he likes them – but some of his classmates teased him about the unusual fruit and said they looked like deer poop. He didn’t tell us about this until we noticed he didn’t want to bring prunes anymore. He has also come home with stories about boys who got teased for wearing pink (it was even an older boy) or having long hair (they got called a girl), and he is sure to not do any of those things. I hate that he is learning the constant fear of being teased at such an early age. I feel like he’s learning already to “Don’t give them anything to jump on, any reason to make fun of.” I don’t know how to deal with this either. We’ve talked about how he can just shrug off those comments, laugh with them, or say something funny in return, but he just says he just would rather not do it, like bring a different fruit at lunch. I can see the fear in his eyes too as he considers standing up to the teasing. I guess it is just in his personality to be more shy.

  2. My daughter was bullied last year in her Kindergarten class. This little girl decided to form a group by taking away all my daughter’s close friends in class. Once she got them onto her side, they began to alienate my daughter from everything and telling her to get away from them. My daughter’s previous friends were kind of going along with it, but their was clearly a leader of the pact. I spoke with her teacher and the “leader” parents about it and soon after we were able to turn it around and they began to play together. I think kids need to learn at an early age it’s not okay to bully kids. Early intervention is key. They may be young, but they are smart to know what’s not right.

  3. Elizabeth N says:

    Wow I could of written this very same post myself. My son is also 5 and is in Kindergarten. A week ago it was wear your own clothes day ( he goes to a private school which required a uniform). He wore this Paul Frank jacket Vest had a picture of Julius the monkey all over the vest. He said as soon as he walked in the classroom everybody laughed at him. After school I asked how his day went and at first was very upset, finally I got him to open up and he told me he got teased adn that ithurt his feelings. I was just soo sad and blown away that they start so young. ( this is not the first incident either) I asked him ” do you like your vest? HE said ” yes I do but they hurt my feelings ” I told him well as long as you like it that is all that matters! You wear what you want to wear and what you like. I said next time someone comes up to you and tells you they dont like something you have ( a few weeks ago it was his angry birds backpack two girls said was ugly) you say ” thats ok you dont have to like it, as long as I like it that is all that matters!! He said ” ok mommy” Then I asked him, Do you want to wear your vest to school another time and he said Yes. I was thinking he was going to say no but he said yes. ( but lets see if he does) I never thought we would have to toughen up my son in Kindergarten,( he can be sensitive too). Every day I make sure I tell him how great he looks ( even in uniform lol ) and that he can rock anything he puts on because mommy dresses him cool. A big shock for him is that in his preschool everyone was very nice and in kindergarten there are a lot of divas and not so nice boys. He can’t believe how mean some kids can be and I just had to explain to him that no everyone will be nice all the time.

  4. Nicole says:

    My son was teased over his purple Keen sandals even before he entered kindergarten! His favorite color was purple and he begged to get the purple shoes, and even though I foresaw a problem like this, I got them for him. Some kids at a summer camp (through our recreation department) teased him and told him it was a girl color, and after that he refused to wear them, no matter how many times I assured him that boys can wear purple (and pink!). He’s in 1st grade, and still is scared to wear anything with purple. What makes me upset is that these boys didn’t automatically come to the conclusion that purple is a “girl” color on their own– they’re learning it from some adult, probably a parent.

  5. My son was having a problem with a larger boy pushing and kicking him ( and many other kids too) He goes to a private Lutheran school and they are taught to turn the other cheek. While I believe that to be true you don’t have to be a punching bag. My husband and I told my son that if he is being hurt he should defend himself , and even hit the boy back after giving sufficient warning. Fortunately, the teacher has addressed the problem well but I firmly believe in empowering kids and not creating victims. No one gets to hurt them.

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