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Elementary Educators/7 y old - school behaviour


"Hello! I am a mother of a 7 y old girl here in Porto -Portugal. Since 1 st grade I realized that my child, because she is a bit shy, she was playing almost only with 2 girls at school. At the end of the year she was always complaining about one of these girls, saying she was always wanting her to obbey her orders and almost everyday saying they "are not friends any more", and "she beated me", "she pushed me". The year at school was ending and I thought after school vacations maybe things would be better. I know the girl lost her mother when she was only 3 y old and lives with her family (aunt and uncle) and her cousins (their children)and I think they treat her very well (I was one time at their house because they invited my daughter to play with her). When 2nd grade started things got worth. My daughter was always complaining, saying "I don't want to go to school because of her", "she doesn't let me play with other children", "other children don't like her so they don't play with me when I am with her". My daughter started complaining to her teacher and the teacher decided to separate them. My daughter loved the day she separated them, she felt happy and relieved, but the next day she was again playing with the girl because she insisted so much that she couldn't "get rid" of her. The teacher called me and told me she doesn't know what to do with them. I think my daughter can't solve the problem by herself. Besides, she was a great student last year and this year I think she is not interested and she is distracted (teacher confirmed that), I don't know if it's because of this problem. Thanks for your help. (sorry about my english)"

Dear Christianne,

When the problems of bully behavior came up in my classroom I always had a little talk with the whole class; I'd explain it like this:

"If someone is mean to you or pushing you around it might be because someone is being mean to them, like a brother or sister, cousin or someone that plays with them.  It might even be a Mom or a Dad, and that would be terrible! It's a very sad thing because then they come to school and push other people around and then it's even more sad because other kids don't want to play with them or be their friend."

I would hang my head down and look sad and shake my head and say, "How can we help a person who acts like this?  We must feel a little bit sorry for them and be kind to them and share things with them, but we never need to let them push us around because then they will never stop.  We have to help them by doing our best to be nice to them; and if they don't respond then we have to be honest, tell them that we don't want to be treated like that and then walk away.  But we also have to give them another chance the next day after they've had time to rest and think about how to do better.

This is a common problem when people don't get enough sleep or they eat junk food.  We all need to help our parents take care of us by also taking care of our own selves.  Good sleep and good food are very important for the way that we act.  So get ready for bed early enough to give yourself time to read a good story before going to sleep.  Go to the market with your parents and tell them you want to help pick out the vegetables and fruits that you like and will eat and follow all of their rules so that they will stay calm and happy about your habits and the home will be peaceful."

I would also play act with them, (roll play) and have them come up in front of the class and act like a bully with me.  They were to tell me something mean like "You look funny" and I would respond with, " Oh, maybe I do, but my family likes me anyway, I guess they got used to me."  
Or, the bully would say, "I don't like you." and I would respond, " Well, I like you anyway, I like everyone because that's what my family teaches me, and maybe by tomorrow you'll change your mind!"

The children would all laugh and they all wanted to practice such things with each other.  So I put them into pairs and gave them different scenarios and let them take turns being the bully.  The teacher can make up the scenarios to fit the situations in the classroom or just make some up that might be common there.

I got a good response from the students and we seldom ever had a bully situation come up again.  They really understood this point of view, and I taught it as young as pre-school.


Joy Berry wrote an excellent book Help Me to Be Good series, and one of them was On Being Bullied
I included the site where I found it on eBay, if you can get it like that.

Best to you and let me know what happened!
Marsha Cunningham

Elementary Educators

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Marsha Cunningham


My expertise is in 1st-3rd grade, I specialize in beginning reading and writing, but I teach drawing and painting first to help students gain confidence. I also use jigsaw puzzle strategy to teach concentration as a subject and enlist parents to keep their children away from scary movies,among other things,which cause nightmares, sleep deprivation and low test scores!


I have taught K-3 for 24 years, given in-service to parents and teachers and presented at reading conferences. To see my children's art work and examples of improved test scores go to

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