Maren Schmidt’s article dealing with bullying was timely. I just received a letter from a mom whose son is being bullied in his Montessori classroom. It has become such a problem that her child doesn’t want to go to school. I know it breaks his heart to be picked on. I think that bullying is something that many people think as a normal part of childhood, but I couldn’t disagree more.
Teaching our children to stop bullying may take some special skills.
My son was always smaller than his peers so he was often bullied. We talked to the school, and did all we could. When I told the principal about the bullying going on in the school yard and she told me it wasn’t her problem. Also, the teachers were non- responsive. So we had to figure out how to take care of the problem ourselves. Eventually, my son took karate classes. As soon as some his classmates found out he was taking karate, they stopped the hitting and pushing. Karate taught my son to avoid fights. even if you have to run away from conflict, but if you had to defend yourself, do it as gently as possible.
Boys tend to be more aggressive and physical, they would rather hit and push. Girls , on the other hand, hurt others with their words in the form of gossip, rejection and exclusion. It’s more difficult to deal with words because you need to find out who is telling the truth. If you hear your daughter and friends gossiping, excluding certain friends and even make fun of people put a stop to it. It’s important to help them understand how they would feel if someone did this to them.
Teachers can help by not permitting gossiping, teasing and bullying in their classroom. It’s time to take Montessori’s grace and courtesy back to society.