Starting a new school usually means changes in routines, new friends and teachers. Frankly I dread having to start the whole process again, since we have just changed K from a Kindy to a Childchild in Jul 2012. We are moving (again!) to a new/temporary home, and the poor boy needs to make the adjustments as a result of our nomadic lives.
When K first started out school in his childcare last year, he complained about being bullied in school. My first reaction to that was, “Whose son is so ill behaved? How can he be bullying my son. I have to speak to his teacher!” Until I found out that the bully in school is a girl named M. I probe further and I realized that she has been only pinching him, and when he complains to the teacher, she continues pinching him.
So my response to him was; I am not going to address this with the teacher. He has to learn to stand up for himself, and tell the girl in a loud and firm voice to stop. And if all else fails and a fight breaks out, all the better. Maybe the sting of the bite/scratch/slap might be a painful for that moment, but it will be a good lesson for both kids.
So I am not the best at managing conflict resolution.
But I have learnt that in certain incidences when it comes to solving problems, a child needs to learn how to manage it himself. I am not going to be everywhere with him 24/7. School is probably one of the best place for a child to experience real life situations to learn how to manage social interactions. A child needs to understand that there will always be some who will not like you very much, and others whom you will find hard to get along with.
It is going to be the same, when he goes to primary/secondary school and eventually when he starts work as an adult. When can we ever choose to work with the people whom we like and we want to work with? Only few are blessed with that.
So for this instance, I kept my mouth shut and did not mention any of this to the teacher. Well, she will just have some explaining to do when he comes home with a black eye, scratch or bite.
I did, however told the teacher when he was back to school with his new glasses to help him ease into the changes and to requested that she shares with his classmates why he had to wear glasses. I figured that this would prevent endless questions from his little friends about why is he wearing glasses and to prevent hurtful statements from some not so polite ones, “I think you look stupid/ugly in spectacles.” We get children like that in schools every once in a while, and you wonder how much time their parent spend time talking to them about not saying such hurtful things. Of course we did rehearse some of the answers to prepare him if he encounter questions like that from other kids.
So how do you determine when you should tell your child’s teacher and when to bite your tongue? This is a valid consideration for most moms especially when you are starting your child in a new school.
I think the more serious the issue, the more the teacher need to be briefed about it. So if it concerns the child safety, learning problems or difficulty or emotional issues, by all means talk to the teacher about it. But if your child is left handled, have certain seating/food preferences, do consider letting your child speak for himself and maybe it could be time for the parent to take a back seat.
Your child might even respond quite differently in the school environment. For instance, K detests porridge to the core and I can never get him to ever swallow a spoon of it at home. But he has no issue finishing the whole bowl of chicken porridge at lunch in school, as he knows that chicken porridge will be the only selection for the day. He has learnt that he needs to finish the food in school, or go hungry.
Good advice that I have once heard, “It is not a problem, unless you make it into a problem.” Some of us do over-analyze issues, and the micro-manager and control freak mom in us will want everything to fall perfectly in place. But at what expense? Potentially at the expense of not having your child learn how to speak up for himself.
When will you tell the teacher and when will you keep you mouth shut? Do share your experience!