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My son is being bullied

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 22 January 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My 14 year old son has told me that he is being bullied at school, and I don't know what to do. He refuses to talk to me about it since I told him I would speak to the headmaster to get it sorted.

It started when we moved, and he had to be initiated into a new school. He is only slightly built, and an easy target. I just want to protect him.

What can I do?

Patricia Marie says...

Bullying, both inside and outside school, is a common distress for children and an anxiety for their parents. It often goes unreported, with victims suffering in silence, and parents left concerned by their child's withdrawn behaviour.

Your son should be praised for confiding in you, as he may have been fearing that if he speaks out, the problem will worsen. Build on his confidence by working together to stop this unacceptable torment, and tell him that unless bullies are stopped, they continue to intimidate others, and worsen their tactics. Make him aware that every school has a zero tolerance to bullying, and that whilst you must demand the Headmaster investigates, you will insist that the matter is dealt with sensitively. Your son needs to understand that the bullying is in no way his fault, but he may be able to avoid it. Encourage him to make friends with one or two of the quieter, more sensible people in his class.

Try not to take your son out of school, as you could experience problems re-introducing him, and it could affect the school's ability to sort out the problem effectively. Most schools have Befrienders, assigned to support pupils who are experiencing difficulties, which could assist your son greatly. Request to be given a contact at the school, with whom you can liaise at any time to check on your son's welfare. If you are not satisfied with the school's response in any way, approach the school governors, or in the absence of a satisfactory conclusion, The Advisory Centre for Education.

Increasingly, social media has become a forum for bullying among school children. This is known as Cyberbullying. If this happens to your son, block the perpetrator immediately and save any detrimental evidence. You may need to refer to this as the investigation progresses.

Understandably, you may want to contact the bully yourself, but this could cause embarrassment and further anguish for your son, as well as escalating the situation. Concentrate instead on keeping him as stress free as possible, encourage him to open up about his concerns, and ensure he is eating healthily, getting regular exercise, and sleeping well to enhance his wellbeing.

Family Lives (formerly Parentline) offer 24/7 help and support in all aspects of family life. Also, Childline can offer counselling for your son, as well as professional advice at any time of the day or night.

Hopefully when it's all sorted your son can start to enjoy his school days again, which each and every child is entitled to, and deserves no less.

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE): 0300 0115 142
Childline: 0800 1111
Family Lives: 0808 800 2222

How was school today?

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Friday, 31 October 2014
If you have a teen who doesn’t talk, you know this question or starting any conversation about their thoughts and emotions can be more challenging than expecting (take your pick), a clean bedroom, a reasonable bedtime, or ignoring their ringing mobile phone.

The chatty munchkin who only yesterday couldn’t wait to tell you all about, well, EVERYTHING, almost overnight has become mute or barely able to offer, “fine”, “good”, same as yesterday”. So you give them a little time, and hope the poppet you know and love just needs a little space.

Hormones have much to answer for, but more than likely, you will have to become more creative about reconnecting. The simple questions you once asked to help you understand and check-in with their development and state of mind may no longer be effective. You may also need a more subtle approach if your teen suddenly has also become secretive or defensive.

Try a little humour. You will probably look uncool, weird, and just plain old, but if you get more than a monosyllabic response, you have leapt a great divide.

So here are a few openers:-
  • Did your teacher stand on her head or sing the whole lesson today?
  • Would you like pig’s feet or chicken’s feet for lunch?
  • By the way, I have organised Harry Potter to help you with your homework this week.
  • If aliens landed in your school tomorrow, which teacher would you buy a one way ticket back to their planet?

As a nanny and a parent your skills as a therapist, tutor, chef, and the many other hats you wear require regular modification when you have a teenager. What you do one day with success does not mean it will also work next week. It’s not always easy but it can be fun. Well, sometimes.

A Principal's Day

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Wednesday, 30 July 2014
When I met Rachel in grade 6 a few decades ago I had no inkling she would one day become responsible for the education of young minds. However, it is her role as a School Principal I am most in awe. She is a psychologist, administrator, nurse, proxy-parent, big sister, judge & jury, all out wonder woman and I celebrate her passion and boundless patience.

Below is a recent post from her Facebook page.

Today was frantic. After little lunch it was noticed that a 5 year old hadn't returned to class. I got a call from the office and normally in these circumstances I would fly out to find the missing kid.

However, today that was impossible.

At the time of the phone alert I had:
1 x wet puddle playing 5 year old,
1 x 7 year old with autism who needed to chill out in his fave spot under an armchair,
1 x angry year 6 plonked on another armchair,
2 x disobedient year 7s smirking in the doorway, and
1 x year 2 who has lost all sense of what is right!

So things went like this…
Me to smirkers: I don’t even care why you are here, I don’t have time. Get out and find this short kid with floppy sandy coloured hair. GO!
They ran off.
Me to the grump in the chair: I know you like to be cranked for hours but right now you need to pull yourself together and get out on the hunt for the same short kid with the same floppy sandy coloured hair. GO!
He left. Then I had a problem. What to do with the mud covered 5 year old and the 7 year old with autism??
I decided - nothing. Leave them. They wouldn't dare venture out...I HOPED!
So I turned to the year 2 who had forgotten how to behave entirely.
He said: Shall I look for the short kid too?
Me: No, but you can come while I look AND tell you off at the same time.
He followed me.... or I thought he did.
By now the parents were filling the yard for home time. I had rung the missing child's mother. I was marching around the school, dialling the police, looking for a short kid with floppy sandy hair, and telling a kid off. I stopped to check on the year 2 with no sense of right but he had fallen behind me by about 10 feet.
All this time I have been ranting at thin air. He hadn’t heard a word.
He heard the next 100 words clearly as he was told to: GET UP HERE. WALK WITH ME WHILE I ATTEMPT TO TELL YOU OFF!! BLAH BLAH BLAH...
The short kid with floppy sandy hair was found hiding in the bushes a stone’s throw from his classroom. Tomorrow he has no playtime.
The child with autism remained in the office and played with the muddy 5 year old.
The muddy 5 year old's socks dried.
The music played (no bells at Rachel’s school) for kiddie home time.
If you have read all of this you are amazing!!


Home schooling

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Friday, 04 July 2014
Would you, could you, home school your child if money wasn’t an issue and you had the time and patience to teach reading, writing and arithmetic?

It’s not a simple YES or NO. The complexities are numerous and the consequences even more so. Outsourcing your child’s future is a primary consideration for every parent. Getting it right is not always straight forward.

A healthy bank account does not guarantee the most expensive schools provide individuality for your child and his/her needs?  Ditto with residing in a desirable school district. What these options offer is a sense of assurance, even when such institutions may not suit personality and talent.

What a school environment does provide and instil (hopefully in a healthy way) is routine, community and an opportunity to develop strong social and problem solving skills for the future.

Humans are social beings and interaction with others is a necessary aspect for happiness. Best friends, boy/girlfriends, business associates, band members et al have all been found in school playgrounds.

A home schooled child misses out on this much like an only child grows up in isolation. I am not saying either is ideal but possibly the former is easier for all concerned.

A previous boss once announced she had terrible news “…school holidays are three weeks, not two”. We all have our limits.

Cartoonist and philosopher, Michael Leunig, home schooled his two children for ten years “because they wanted to”.

"Having the top score at 18 isn't going to help if you have a nervous breakdown at 40. Life is a long time, much deeper and more serious than A-levels," he says

Poignant from a man with the luxury to cherish time with his offspring and to inspire them with a passion for learning.

Although he wouldn't tout home schooling - unless someone was already interested in the philosophy - he believes it has a special place in a climate where we cling to awards systems and standardised testing.

So while he and other kindred advocates relish in this path, it opens an interesting discussion for the rest of us who must conform to working away from home with hours not conducive to being both parent and teacher.

And some of us are even downright relieved to have a break from children.

The Smalls God Squad

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Wednesday, 21 May 2014
‘What are you going to write about today, Mummy?’ I was asked on the school run this morning.

‘Darling, I have no idea.  Any suggestions?’ I questioned the back seat.

‘I think you should write about God’ the boy flavour replied.

‘Oh… really?  It’s just that religious writing isn’t my thing’ I quickly explained before he got in too deep.

‘Just write about what you would say to God if you ever met him’, the girl flavour added.

And that got me thinking. In a (clearly) make-believe world, what on earth (sorry – bad pun) I would say to the big man upstairs should we ever get together… especially bearing in mind my slightly atheist tendencies.

Well, I suppose I’d probably check on Grandma first.  Knowing exactly how she likes her cup of tea and smoked salmon sandwiches, it would be a perfect moment to check standards were up-to-scratch.  Next I would aim to strike some sort of accord with the chief.  If ever there were a tactical bond, this would be it. We would get on famously, I’m sure.

The Smalls brought me back to reality as they went on to inform me how incredibly fluffy his home is and just how easy it is to jump from cloud to cloud.  

And then we pulled up at the school gates.  Just like that they had added divine magic to my day.

You can read more musings from Emma at

Tough love

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Today I have a sick child home from school.


I am really not very good at the whole sympathy thing. For me, caring goes about as far as a pat on the head and a ‘you’ll feel better soon’ before I turn back to something far more important on my computer screen. Like Twitter.

I do believe that she is ill, (I sent her to school yesterday with what turned out to be quite a high temperature), but I don’t believe that staying home from school should be fun. In fact, the duller the better in my experience if you want to keep that attendance record looking half decent.

Whenever I was allowed to stay home from school as a child, (which was quite often to be honest as my mum liked the company), I was allowed to watch Richard & Judy on the sofa under a duvet and was given tomato soup with grated cheese on top for lunch. Sometimes my mum would even buy me a bun from the bakers. I suspect she was trying a little too hard to make home a fun place to be, but you get my point.

When my kids are sick then, they have to stay in bed.

“Can’t I come downstairs and watch TV?” they will ask in a pitiful whiny voice.

“Oooh no,” I will say seriously, “with your terrible headache it’s absolutely the worst thing you could do. You’re ill,” I will add dramatically, “you need to stay in bed all day.”

Funnily enough, a headache soon passes when confronted with the prospect of eight hours of lying staring at the ceiling.

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