Day 2 at NAIS began with a fantastic session entitled “Parents Who Insist Their Child Is Being Bullied (Even Though the School Doesn’t See It)” with Michael Thompson, Psychologist and Daisy Pellant (Breck School – MN).
This useful and interactive workshop discussed four case studies and provided practical suggestions in managing the disconnect that can sometimes occur between families and a school. Is it bullying, social cruelty, or something else?
Here are some notes:
- Families and schools need to build trust in order to deal with social situations effectively.
- Parents can bring their own social trauma and situations to their child’s experiences.
- Advice for schools re:bullying
- Stay Centered
- Don’t get defensive
- Don’t get bullied
- Remember child development
- Follow school protocol
- A clear anti-bullying protocol externalizes response and creates consistency.
- Anti-bullying law defines bullying in spirit & action. Differ from state to state.(public, charter, independent)
- Schools should create a developmentally appropriate protocol for bullying. Different for 5-year-old and a 12-year-old.
- Buckingham Browne and Nichols’ Bullying Protocol was noted as an exemplary plan.
- What teachers fear re: bullying incidents:
- fear of mistakes
- parent retaliation/ job security
- lack of admin support
- Admin must publicly back the process and the teacher dealing with a bullying situation.
- Admin need to intervene at the right time. Support your teachers. “Adopt” the parent, if needed. (Meaning: take the weight off the teacher.)
- Call in experts if you need them. (ie. Psychologists)
- Pre-load developmentally appropriate expectations to parents-
- Explicitly say in September -“There will be a biter. There will be a bitee. Someone will be poked.”
- After parents explain their side, ask parents “Would you be willing to hear our point of view?” Parent opens the door.
- Nothing like having data/observations documented for two children’s interactions to support your stance.
I appreciated the valuable advice provided in this session to help parents understand that providing a “safe” school is not necessarily the same as creating an environment where nothing socially challenging, difficult, or negative happens to a child.
Here is a link to my tweets during this session.