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GingerMomma519

When do I address bullying in the studio?

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GingerMomma519

The past week DD has come home from ballet looking a little sad. When I asked her why she said a girl in the level above her, that her class is often combined with, is calling her stupid and rolling her eyes at her. At first I told her to just stand up for herself and tell the girl that she doesn't like being called stupid and to please stop. 

However, it has continued. Last night DD said she ended up crying in class. Where DD goes to school crying in class is as bad as yelling or cursing in class. It's just not tolerated. DD said she cried for a few minutes and the teacher didn't see her and then she was able to move on with class. 

DD doesn't want me to say anything to anyone, but obviously this is bother her. As far as I know the bullying has been the same girl basically calling DD stupid over and over again. The school has a policy on bullying, however DD thinks that speaking to someone will just get her teased more. 

I'm torn between saying something and not. Any parents out there had kids bullied that can give some advice? 

Thanks!

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ParentalPerson

Oh, goodness, GingerMomma519 -- I'm so sorry to hear about what's happening with your daughter.

DD10 has been a target at her studio for a while --- the bully began with physical intimidation/threats and eventually moved on to a more psychological approach. With the approval of our AD, I spoke to the bully's mother personally and enlisted her help in setting clear limits with the other child. The bully has needed multiple reminders and "resets" where she is instructed to refrain from doing specific things, but the approach has been relatively successful. We are watching the situation pretty carefully, and DD has been instructed to report any negative interactions with the bully so that the adults can continue to manage the situation as necessary.

Good luck!

Edited by ParentalPerson
Grammar

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dancemaven

I would encourage your DD to speak to the teacher and tell her what is going on.  Perhaps she can be moved from having to be close enough to the bully to permit this type of behavior.  If your daughter is too young to feel comfortable talking to the teacher alone, I would accompany her and ask the teacher for a moment of her time.  I would make no demands regarding the bully herself, but would definitely ask that my DD not be placed in that situation.  I cannot imagine a teacher would be hard-hearted enough to not want to know what is going on, but I also would not expect the teacher to necessarily to overtly address it.  She may have a more subtle approach in order to not call attention to your DD.

If you know the mother of the bully, I would certainly have a conversation with her.  It may not be satisfactory, but it may.  At least, she will be on notice of her DD’s behavior.

This was always our rule for speaking up:   If it hurts someone on the outside or hurts someone on the inside, it is not tattling.

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Momof3darlings

DD, when younger, had a dance bully.  She used to kick her at barre (on purpose, not accidental).  DD mentioned it to the teacher, but because of the teacher's location in standing in the room and also the location of the stereo (pre iphone days), this was able to happen without the teacher's notice.  After DD attempting to tell this dancer to stop several times and the kicking getting worse, plus getting in trouble for "talking in class".  I went in and had a conversation with the teacher and owner.  As mom, my statement to them was that it was very hard not to tell DD to turn around and smack this girl, but that I did not believe in violent retaliation and did not feel that this was an appropriate response.   So, what would they expect her to do.  They balked at first at having a solution since this was a cherished dancer, but I calmly stated that "Ok then, my DD has been given permission to yell very loudly "stop kicking me" in class should this happen again.  And she is to receive no more correction or retribution for speaking up in class should this occur."  

It did happen again, DD yelled very loudly and the teacher finally realized that simply because she did not see it, did not make it not happen and moved that student for good.  

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nynydancer

Yes-- my DD is 13, I hope I can post since I just recently graduated out.  So yes both kids (boy and girl) have faced bullying.  For the boy, they (school) jumped all over it and put a stop to it immediately.  Boys are precious I guess.  The bully changed his tune immediately.  For the girl, well....  

My DD faced a lot of what yours did.  Nothing changed from the bullies behavior (which was a shame really), even when we brought it up and eventually the bullies grew up and matured into friends or left.  One, we started carpooling with and became friends.  I don't regret bringing it up because the teachers were more aware and gave DD some positive reinforcement. We stuck it out, did privates and worked on esteem building in other ways.  We also started leaving for summers and that made a world of difference.   Seriously the summers away or little master classes did wonders!  But yes, it was hard from about 9-11.  12 got better.

A lot of times, the bullying is based on jealousy.  I mean in my experience?  Like me and my kids friends? Bullying is 100% jealousy.  So have a teacher's perspective can help.  I would absolutely bring it up very calmly and succinctly.  I remember saying "X and Y keep making my DD move from place to place on barre before you get in class.  They laugh at her and hid her shoes," etc.

I don't know why the school handled DD's bullies different.  Her bullies were favorites at the time, and known bullies but with great moms who were active.  I actually love all of their moms and I think few really know what went on.  The school director did recently tell me she knew that the biggest bully was doing what she was doing all along. Sigh.

Fast forward, my DD is either good friends with former bullies or the bullies are just out of her life.  Only 1 still dances, but no where near where DD is now.

So it might be the school may not STOP the bullies like in our case, but they SHOULD give you some positive reinforcements.  At best case they will sort the bullies too.   If they are not receptive at all, or supportive at all, maybe you should consider finding a different school.  We have been to summer programs and, NOW, a year round school where none of those shenanigans would be tolerated at all.

Best of luck-- poor baby.  The thought of your DD crying in class just takes me back and makes me want to cry too!

 

 

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GingerMomma519

Thank you all so much for the advice and concern. I talked to DD today before her classes and told her to keep her head up and know that bullies are usually kids that have poor self-esteem and dont think much of themselves. That helped a little. I'm hoping for positive feedback after class. I decided to talk to the mom first and just let her know what is going on. Hopefully that stops it. If not then I'll talk to the school. This has already been a rough year on DD and we're just a month in. Hoping things smooth out!

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Bavalay

Gosh Ginger, this year is off to a rocky start for you and DD.  I thought my DD would be done with stuff like this in new environment but it is starting in sort of a benign way with one student asking questions of the "new girl" (my daughter).  But the questions aren't of the type that comes from kids, but rather a parent-type inquiry.  And she isn't exactly new to the questioner as they danced together for 5 weeks over the summer.  I'm keeping my eye on it, especially after my daughter told me that the student's parent called her "this one" in a snarky fashion and started laughing with another parent.  My approach to this right now is to hang back and listen; support my DD to work on ignoring haters.  Jealousy is an ugly thing.  Since you know all involved, and have some good options from members, I am sure you will do what's best.  For me I need to just watch from afar...for now.

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newballetmom

Does your daughter have freedom to place herself at the barre or do they have assigned spots? If she can move away, that would be my first suggestion. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Out of sight, out of mind. 

As for crying, I guess I don’t really understand the studio’s harsh stance on that. I’m positive every girl in my daughter’s class has cried at least once due to the nature of frustration from learning such a difficult new skill. Their teacher always lets the parents know and reassures the dancer. 

It certainly isn’t treated like cussing or yelling! 

I know that’s beside the point of this particular mean girl, but it just really struck me as something that makes the situation even harder for your daughter. 

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Eligus

I think Newballetmom's advice is excellent... moving away from the problem or avoiding the situation is an excellent idea, even if that means changing barre place in the middle of class. 

I know your DD is young, GingerMomma519, and you are free to take my additional advice with a grain of salt, but I'll share with you the discussions I had with my DD who struggled with feeling hurt and vulnerable at certain points in her dance training, but felt as if she could not cry and did not want to cry in class.  I'm struggling to even GIVE this advice, because it makes me angry (still) that I had to address it with my sensitive and loving DD, because crying and acknowledging the hurt are GOOD things. 

However, it helped my DD to think about these types of situations as "power" plays.  Crying in front of someone who is trying to get a reaction from you gives away your power. It does not help you.  The hurt is real, yes, and we'll talk about what the person said and how you felt (angry, frustrated, hurt, etc) in private, when you are away from the person.  We will discuss it and cry about it until you feel better (because you WILL feel better afterwards).  But crying in front of them doesn't help.  Emotions come in waves... the waves eventually recede.  If you can hold on, ride the wave for awhile until you can talk it out in a loving environment, that will help.

These discussions helped my DD survive a tough training environment.  I did my darndest at the time to honor her feelings, value them, but also teach her that there had to be a time and place to express those feelings in a loving and supportive environment. 

I freely admit that the dance school where she spent a good part of her youth was not that environment, and that *I* (as her parent) risked her self esteem and mental health by allowing her to stay there.  I am not open to others' judgment about this choice, so I'm not looking for thoughts on that.  I'm just sharing with you (and with others) how we tried to work with the situation we were in.  Others have different and perhaps better advice, including removing your DD from a potentially long term harmful situation, if necessary.  But for me and my DD, if I could de-personalize the hurt, and show her a more objective perspective of the situation (seeing it as a power play), she was able to hold back her reactions until she was in a safer environment.  I will say that this technique (of viewing the situation a bit more objectively) was useful in later years when she saw such "bullying" tactics used by persons in authority as well.  Although it shouldn't, it happens out there. 

My heart goes out to you, because I truly understand how this feels. 

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Bavalay

Nice Eligus.  Very helpful perspective.  Thank you for posting this.

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GingerMomma519

Bavalay - So sorry to hear that even the parents are involved with being snarky towards your daughter. That's one thing that drives me nuts, is when the parents are worse than children. It's a running theme at our studio as well. 

Newballetmom - That was my suggestion to DD. To just move away from her if possible. I'm not sure if the teachers allow them to choose their own place or not, I think most do when they're at the barre but then they tell them where to go for center. 

Eligus - I actually had that exact conversation with DD using an example from her elementary school. There is a bully and a little girl on her bus that gets picked on. And this girl is relentless in teasing the other one but leaves DD alone. That's because DD doesn't give any reaction whereas the other little girl cries very easily. I told DD that she just needs to take a deep breath and walk away and then when she is home she can cry if she needs to. I told her that the more of a reaction the bully gets, the more she'll keep doing it. 

Our girls obviously dance/danced in a very similar environment and I often wonder if the upset is worth the benefit in the end. But DD is convinced this is where she needs/wants to be and she keeps pushing forward. I trust that she'll tell me if that changes and as long as I'm not seeing any issues at home/school/etc I'm inclined to let her continue on. But if I see things getting destructive I'll pull the plug on that very quickly!

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Eligus

These kind of situations DO build resilience... but they are costly in terms of time and attention.

I read an article somewhere a few years ago that talked about how to handle a bullying situation... I'm not sure how helpful the advice would be in this situation, but the article talked about what I'll classify as a kind of "parallel play" situation. The author suggested that when you see a bully in action, you (as the outsider) can just engage the bullied person in a casual, non-confrontational, mundane conversation, as if the bully was not even present and the situation did not exist.  A sort of "hey, do you know if so and so is teaching today?" question....  Or something about school or rehearsal... a topic completely unrelated to what is actually going on.  Even a "do you know what time it is?"  (that would be silly in a ballet class, but you get the idea).  I imagine this idea of "pretend parallel play" would also work if you are being bullied.... a complete ignoring of the bully and an engagement with someone different on an entirely unrelated, mundane topic.  I'm not sure if this would work, but you could talk it over with your DD and come up with a list of questions/topics she can pull from to extricate herself.

Obviously, this tactic wouldn't work if it is the teacher doing the bullying, but it might even work with other adults and/or the kids.  It's just another way to dis-engage from the situation. 

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