Ugly Duckling - bullied for being different
By Pippa Roy-Chowdhury, Aspects
The Ugly Duckling is a wonderful, heart-warming story of a little chick who finds happiness when he is finally accepted for being himself and learns that he is just as valued as the other birds around him. However, he has a tough journey along the way and meets with some unfriendly characters.
Watching the openness of young children playing alongside their peers as they start school or nursery is a joy to behold. Very young children readily accept others without question, enjoying friendships and learning together. They don’t question physical or intellectual differences; they simply enjoy one another’s company. It is usually only as children get older and are more easily influenced by others that they become more aware of differences and become judgemental.
It would be lovely to hope that our children will never be bullied or experience negativity but if this should happen to your child the following tips might help:
- It is important to understand the definition of bullying – it is ‘repeated and persistent targeted physical, verbal or emotional abuse’. Your child is not being bullied if they have fallen out with a friend, or if they have been the victim of a one off incident. Both types of incident need to be dealt with – but it is important to see the difference, and respond correctly.
- Talk to your child and try to get them to focus on possible solutions rather than the problem. This can empower your child to seek a positive outcome.
- Can your child ignore the behaviour? The ‘bully’ will often lose interest if there is no apparent ‘response’.
- Can your child identify a trusted adult to talk to? The only way to stop the bullying is to bring it into the open in a safe and controlled way.
- Never advise your child to hit or call names back – the bully then has the reaction they want and the situation will perpetuate.
- Bullies have usually been victims themselves – either at home or at school. They often have big insecurities they are unable to deal with. Help your child to understand this so that they don’t feel that they have done something to deserve this.
- Talk to staff at school. They are skilled at dealing with these situations. If it doesn’t stop straight away let them know so that they can follow up.
Many schools talk openly about bullying and unkind behaviour. They often plan mini projects which celebrate differences; they may focus some work around famous celebrities with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as Autism and Dyslexia, as well as physical disabilities.
The most positive part of the Ugly Duckling story is that he did not change who he was on the inside; he was still the same duckling who was loved and valued. Let’s help all children to understand this valuable lesson and to appreciate one another without question.
Pippa Roy-Chowdhury, a former Primary School Head Teacher, leads Aspects family support service, working with children aged 5-19 in Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and nearby villages. Aspects aim is to help overcome any problem which may prevent a child from enjoying school and getting the very best from their learning.
01279 696842 www.aspects.org.uk