What I taught my kid about “being Nice” set her up to be a victim of bullying!!!

My 9 year old daughter is starting third grade in a new school. I hear through the grapevine that the children in the class have been together since first grade and although they are nice they are a bit competitive. So over the summer I gently coach my daughter about making new friends. I suggest that although she is a newby herself that she should also reach out to the other new kids in the class. My daughter is a good listener – and she does just that.

The school year begins and she is chatting with me about her new experiences. I ask her each day – what was something good that you did today? What was the worst part of the day? (We have been doing this for years.) Through her stories I am introduced to the many new friends she is making.

She asks me if she can have a play date with a particular girl who is also new to the class. We will call her Courtney. Being the mother that I am, I invite both the child and the mother over – specifically so I can get to know the mom and to see how the kids do together. (I don’t believe in sending my child to someone else’s house that I do not know and prefer not having children over whose parents I have never met – and learned from the experience – it is time well spent – you can learn a lot about a person from sitting with them for an hour).

Courtney’s mom through casual conversation – gave me enough information that sent me some red flags – my inner voice – was on alert when she said she had moved many times, when she yelled at the kids to handle them running past us (at my house), and many other perhaps small clues which made me think – I don’t think I would be comfortable with this mom supervising my kid.

After they left my daughter let me know that Courtney treated my son poorly during the play date. I asked my daughter what she thought of that – joking with her that she isn’t always the nicest to her little brother either. But she said no Mommy – she was mean – mean in a way that made my daughter feel protective over her brother – her inner voice was sending her a message. She was listening.

She intuitively knew, with out my input, that she would not feel comfortable going to Courtney’s house. I would have no problem saying to the mom, No Thanks – my kid is not available. (Niceties at the expense of my child’s best interest is not on my list of things to do.)

BUT little did I know what had started at school. Soon my happy go lucky, nice daughter started crying in the evenings. Her mood changed to sullen, and withdrawn. Over the course of 2 weeks stomach aches started to kick in. My inner voice knew “something” was going on but she was not forth coming – no matter what questions I asked. (Bullying was not on my list of questions…..I didn’t think that happened in third grade!) Finally she was making herself so sick she had to stay home – I took her to the doctor. No diagnosis. I remember the next scene like it happened yesterday. I sit her down on the stepping stool in the kitchen. I am on my knees in front of her. I make eye contact – I am active listening – and I say – Tamar – I want to help you but you need to tell me what is happening that is making you sick. I won’t be mad at you – what ever it is it is not your fault. Just get it out and tell me. Boom – she explodes with tears – she tells me that I told her to be nice to Courtney – that they don’t have to be best friends – but she should be nice to Courtney. But Courtney has been hurting her physically when the teacher wasn’t looking – that it happens many times during the day – she is taking her hand and spreading her fingers wide until she buckles at the knees in pain or gives into the girl’s demands – such as food, homework, and don’t play with them stay with me type of demands – further ostracizing my daughter from her classmates.

I thanked her for finally telling me and I held her as we cried together. I then apologized to her and realized that I didn’t give her enough instruction when I said “be nice” – I forgot to add never at the expense of yourself! She said that she thought I would be disappointed if she wasn’t friends with Courtney. I inadvertently set my daughter up to be bullied! As you can well imagine I was livid that this could happen – and felt I could not return my daughter into this unsafe environment.

She and I discussed the plan of action – I gave her enough information to make her feel secure that it will be handled – and don’t think reader that she wasn’t further terrified that Courtney was going to come after her with a vengeance. With the schools support – it was managed – supervision was increased, boundaries were defined, and reporting was added to the children’s vocabulary (see our last blog). As a mom I am saddened as I am sure Courtney’s behavior was learned from home….and the bullying ended for my daughter….because Courtney moved.

KidSafe key words that can be used with your kids as you teach them life skills:

Listen to your inner voice

Body Boundaries – safe and unsafe touch

Circle of Safe Adults – you can talk to them about anything


"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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