Blog - Nursery Talk
“So What!” and the delicate subject of Bullying – Tracey Trussell
How does it make you feel when your best friend is being mean to you? What do you do? What do you say? How can you cope? This is a common, age-old problem that children have to deal with everyday in the playground. So how can you prepare your child for when this happens to them at ‘big’ school?
The subject of bullying is sensitive and delicate, and however subtle or mild its form, whether it’s emotional or physical, the effects can be devastating for the recipient. At best, bullying eats away at your self esteem and self confidence; at worst it can cause permanent injury or ravage an individual’s development in an enduring fashion. And of course it’s a timeless problem.
When my 7 year old daughter Emma (she’s 28 now) came home from school one day, she had an unusually sad face. So I asked, “What’s the matter darling?”. Between gritted teeth she complained, “My best friend Lissy makes me really cross, every time I say something, she always says ‘So What!’” (Reader, this is the first line of my storybook.)
I could see my daughter’s frustration and sadness. These two simple words, ‘So What!’ had had a traumatic effect on Emma. They were like a huge slap in the face, or a door slamming in her head, and she was powerless to cope. She simply didn’t know how to deal with her ‘friend’s’ thoughtless and unkind behaviour. So we had a chat.
This one sentence triggered a whole dialogue between us about being nice, rather than being horrid, and treating our friends as we would like to be treated ourselves, and if all else fails, standing up for ourselves and (dare I say it) fighting back. And after Emma had gone to bed that night, the rest of the story developed in my mind, and then on paper. ‘So What!’ doesn’t claim to be politically correct; but for right or wrong, at the very least the story promotes discussion, and that, in my book, is what matters most between a parent and their child. In fact communication is the glue that underpins most relationships.
The bullying message in ‘So What!’ is delivered subtly in bold, bright, glittery colours, with a large dose of fantasy and humour that appeals to small children (aged 4-8). Courage is celebrated, and the goodie wins out in the end. So essentially ‘So What!’ teaches children how to cope with their feelings and express their own individuality, and ultimately, when all else fails, to stand up for themselves. And that lesson is invaluable at any age, at any time of our lives, and often, sadly, not just in the playground.