Dear Dr. Bill,
For the past several weeks, our 9-year-old son has been having emotional meltdowns every morning. He says the other kids at school either ignore him or say mean things like “go away,” “we hate you,” and “we don’t want to play with you.” This is very troubling because he gets almost perfect grades and his teachers say he’s a model student.
We’ve talked repeatedly with the teachers about the situation — but they say our son has never told them anything about it. We don’t know what to do at this point — and we’re worried about our son’s emotional health. What should we do?
It seems clear that your son is being bullied, at least verbally, and his teachers seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
I suggest you meet with the school principal and calmly, but firmly request help in dealing with the situation. Also, ask if the district has a school psychologist who can meet with your son. It’s likely he could benefit from “assertiveness training,” learning what to say and do when he’s being picked on.
In addition, ask his teachers and the playground supervisor to closely observe your son interacting with the other students. Hopefully they’ll be able to identify the kids who are picking on him, and will take firm action to nip the bullying in the bud.
If you don’t get any cooperation from the school, I’d advise you to consider other educational options, such as changing schools or home-schooling. If the problems are as bad as you describe, removing him from the hostile school environment could be critical to his psychological well-being.
Thanks for writing, Debbie.
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