Modern Manners Monday - Dealing with a Negative Child - Divine Lifestyle

Modern Manners Monday – Dealing with a Negative Child


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Dear DMM: My son is a pretty happy kid. He is positive and has a great outlook on life. But there is this kid in his class who is pretty negative and always seems a little down.

Yesterday my son came home almost in tears. He told me that John (changed to protect the guilty) told him, “You have no talent. You shouldn't even bother trying out for the talent show. You are nothing and you have nothing.”

My son asked, “What should I say to him? He tells me that every day. Over and over again during the day. I don't know what to say.”

I was speechless. I don't know the mother of the child and I am not sure that I should go to his teacher. And I really don't know what to tell my son but this is really affecting my son.

What do I do?


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11 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. feefifoto

    It might be hard to convince your son to say this but what if he asked the perpetrator: “Does it make you feel good to say things like that to me?”

  2. Stacie

    This is a really tough situation. My first instinct would be to go to the teacher but sometimes that is not always the best thing for the kids.

    I would reiterate to my son that of course he is something. And that possibly this little boy is just unhappy but to not let his negative attitude affect him.

    I would also monitor the situation closely and make certain that nothing further happens.

  3. Dawn Sandomeno

    My explanation would depend on the child’s age but the message would be the same. I would probably go to the teacher for a younger child.

    “Some people need to giving meaning to their life by demeaning others” Unfortunately, we all need to learn this lesson. These same kids grow into adults can be mean. I think it’s best to use situations like this to slowly thicken our kids skins and give them tools to deal with it.

    Quick answer and then move on… not a real friend so not point in belaboring a conversation or friendship.

    – ” why do you seem so worried then?”
    – “thanks for the advice, I’ll take my chances”


  4. My first instinct is to involve the teacher and/or person in charge of the talent show. I do not do well with bullying, and people of authority there need to know. As far as what to tell the child on how to handle it? I would remind the child that no one can dictate how they should feel about themselves, and that people often speak out of anger and jealousy – perhaps the offending child is jealous, or isn’t as talented, and is lashing out? I would advise to ignore it, or, if confrontation between the two children is necessary, I would have the child say something along the lines of, “Whatever hate you’re trying to shove in my face is not working. I am confident in myself and my talent, and if you want my help or attention, this isn’t the way to get it. I’m ignoring you.”

  5. Ugh. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.

    My heart just goes out to him. Kids are constantly in a struggle to find that self confidence in themselves and when one of their peers drags them down it makes it that much harder.

    I agree with Lisa mostly. (Actually my first reaction is to tell him to have a really mature comeback like “It takes one to know one” but I’m a smarty pants.)

    By showing the other boy that his words can’t bring your son down he will hopefully lose interest. God Speed Mama!

  6. It does depend on the age of the child. If in elementary school, speak to the teacher and ask him/her to watch and intercede if necessary. If the child is older, then give him some advice on how to reply to the child in a way that lets him know you mean business, but isn’t hurtful. Keep the lines of communication open with your son to see if anything gets worse. Reassure him that he does have talent, but that other children do hateful things to feel better about themselves.

  7. I like the idea of involving the talent show coordinator. You can tell your child that he is needed in the talent show. The talent show coordinator can back you up…hopefully. As for the kid making the comments, you need to tell his teacher or the guidance counselor at the school. Perhaps he comes from a home where he is criticized relentlessly if he gives a substandard performance?

  8. I would do as Dawn mentioned. Talk about why people behave that way and why we choose to not talk that way to people. Chances are that the teacher, director, etc know nothing about the incident but they know of the other child’s poor self-esteem, home life and other contributing factors. My daughter and I talk about how we can’t change other people’s attitudes but we are in charge of how we respond to them.

  9. ellen

    I also think alot depends on the childs age/maturity level. You say the ‘kid is negative & seems a little down’ which appears that you have interacted with the child at some point.

    If you know the child’s parents, and you feel comfortable with it, ask to speak with them. Perhaps something has happened lately that is making the situation worse. Parents aren’t there during school hours, which is the majority of a childs weekday, and perhaps they can speak to their son about teasing/bullying.

    If the interaction is through school , speak to the childs teacher. Perhaps this behavior is or isn’t isolated to your son- maybe he is bullying all the kids. Either way, if it is just your son, or all the kids, it needs to be addressed since it is occurring at school.

    In any case, to help your own son at home, I subscribe to mamikazes advice to tell your son he can’t always change other peoples behavior but he is in control of how he reacts to them. Also give him positive reinforcement for coming to you with his problems to keep the lines of communication open.

  10. Eileen

    I would say not knowing the mother, you cant really just call her up and talk to her. But doing nothing is not going to help this kid. There needs to be some sort of an intervention and I dont even just mean because it is affecting your son. This child had to have heard this SOMEWHERE…that just broke me hearing this. Do you think this was something he might have heard on TV or maybe AT HOME? I would bring it to the attention of the school counselor. I would think they might bring this out in some sort of bully discussion at school…I know ours has at least one each year to just open up the discussion for all to be able to talk and not be too scared to bring it to a parents, teachers, or counselors attention. I might ask for a meeting of the parents if this doesnt stop it. I dont think your son hearing this every day is good, even if you tell him this is just an unhappy kid venting. No one should be abused or bullied in this way. Wow. such strong words. We all know most bullies have been bullied first. It just seems like this kid maybe is hearing this from parents or another caretaker. Harsh and sad words coming from another kid, but how very crushing to maybe be hearing this from someone that is supposed to love you and believe in you.

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