It's been a few days since my Kindergartner came home from school in a huff. She had a horrible day. Everyone was mean to her and everything was terrible and nothing was good and the world was probably going to end. As a longtime sufferer of anxiety, I saw myself in those little eyes, and I struggled to find a way to make her feel better.
As parents, our first job is to keep our kids alive. That's hard enough. Then, it's to help them grow up and be good people. For me, this is truly the hardest thing. How do you make a good person? Teach them to be kind, to be empathetic, to care for those around them. And teach them to handle the people in their lives that aren't good people.
In this case, one girl specifically has been saying unkind things to my daughter. No she's not threatening to kill her. But what she is doing is hurtful. Can a mean little Kindergartener be bad? Innately cruel? I don't know, I don't think so really. But in this case, this little girl certainly knows how to hurt feelings. She knows how to say things that cause pain, and she knows if she does it repeatedly it will stick.
So what do I do? My first instinct is to run over to that school and drop-kick that little kid. But of course I'm not going to do that. I talked to my daughter about it. I told her to stand up for herself, and to walk away if she needs to, and to tell a grown up if it keeps happening. I told her that I love her, and her whole family loves her and she is awesome and wonderful and that what this little girl is saying isn't true.
But then I did something else. I emailed the teacher too. I just wanted to see if she had observed this situation and whether or not there were additional circumstances I wasn't aware of. What if my daughter was also participating int his behavior, and not telling me? What if there is more to the situation? I trust my girls - trust them to be good people and trust them to handle their own problems. But it's hard to get a full story from a 5 year-old, so I thought it was worth asking about. Turns out I was right to ask, and hopefully I handled it in a way that was not pushy or annoying to her teacher. No, the problem isn't solved. But I'd say it's on its way to resolving itself.
Almost every day, your child will encounter some challenge or another. How do you know when to step in? My parenting philosophy is "Trust your kids, and then trust your gut." The rest is a crapshoot.