Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sean and Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep is a stop-motion British TV series from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. The title character is a smart, skinny sheep (pictured above getting a medal) who's the leader of a flock of fluffy, dim-witted sheep. A premise of the series is that Shaun exhibits human intelligence and creativity to resolve problems the farm animals encounter.

It is a very funny show and Sean absolutely loves watching the dvds we have. This post isn't a tv show review, but relates to what I had mentioned a couple of days earlier about a playground incident/s Sean faced last school year. Sort of a post on how we deal with teasing/verbal bullying. One day I might write about how we handled Brian's one and only experience with verbal bullying, which happened when he was about 9/10 in his London prep school.

Back to Sean, this was 10 days after he joined the school (April). Anyway, to save myself some writing, I'm just cutting and pasting the email I sent to his school counselor Sarah.

My email:
"When Sean came home today, he was worried that he would get into trouble with me for not being able to find his lost items, which include a water bottle and his prescription goggles. Now because he was worried, I managed to get him to tell me stuff about school which he has refused to since school started. What I found out kind of confirmed my gut feel that something wasn't going well in school. He is happy and his classmates are fine but he said a boy from another class would call him Sean the Sheep :) As he was telling me this, his tears started to flow.

I was amused and told him Sean the Sheep is cute, to which he continued crying and saying, "But I don't like it."

I suggested that maybe that boy was just trying to be friendly, but Sean disagreed and said he doesn't think so. Only after a while did he say, "Are you sure he's just trying to be friends?"

At first he said the boy only called him Sean the Sheep yesterday, but later he said the 'teasing' started last week. And the boy was with a group of children, and after he called Sean that, that boy's friend would also join in and call Sean that.

What I've told Sean for now is this:

i) Don't assume the worst of others. That boy may just be trying to be friendly. And Sean/Shaun the Sheep is a cute character anyway, so I told him he could take this positively. (He insisted he didn't like it though).

ii) I told him that while Shaun the Sheep seems totally harmless to me -- cute even -- I will still have to acknowledge that he felt hurt...hurt enough to firstly not tell me about it, and finally, when telling me about it, to cry sadly. I said if he wanted to, he could tell the kids he didn't like it. But I said if it were me, I wouldn't bother.

iii) Of course, there's the possibility that the kids were picking on him. And I said with verbal bullies, all they want is a reaction. So if you ignore and not react, they'll leave you alone soon enough.

So basically, for now, this is just for your information. If this continues, and he's still affected by this, I'll let you know.

He's still happy to go to school so this isn't a big deal. But I don't want him to feel his feelings are being brushed aside. And I'm also wondering if this is another reason he prefers to go to the library instead of hanging around at the playground; besides having no one to play with."


Reply from Counselor,

Dear Lilian,

That’s fantastic advice to Sean! It’s very normal for kids who are undergoing a transition to be very sensitive. So even if he normally wouldn’t mind, being call Sean the Sheep might be the worst thing that could happen at this particular moment.

Please continue checking in with him and do let us know if Sean continues to feel picked on by this kid. While I agree with not making too big a deal out of it, sometimes kids do need a bit of extra “sheltering” during the settling in period.

I won’t be able to get him for lunch Wednesday as we’re off, but will make sure I check in with him too this week.



I never brought this up again cos true enough, the teasing stopped. Funny though the stuff that kids get bothered about. There are worse things than to be associated with Shaun the Sheep right? :)


Domesticgoddess said...

Great post! I have been thinking about this issue a lot lately as Marcus had a few encounters recently in his current kindy and they bothered him, which of course bothered me BIG TIME too. I have been guiding him to be assertive and stand up for himself and teach him how to protect himself AT ALL TIMES. He is on the slim side, so when faced with threatening peers, I rather he flights than fight! But hubby disagrees.

Do share Brian's experience if you don't mind. I would love to get some ideas and advices. Thanks!

Lilian said...

Oh no, poor Marcus...he seems like such a gentle boy, I hope there's someone for him to run to any time he feels a need for comfort. Over here, I've told Sean to head for his counselor's room if something really bothers him enough. For sure, my kids can't fight, I definitely prefer them to flee.

A wise friend once told us his advice to his son if faced with physical bullies, punch back and then quickly run to the teacher and say the other fella punched him :P Guess men prefer to solve things via an eye for an eye, while women believe this just leaves everyone blind.

Okay, will figure out how to share Brian's experience. His was definitely more serious than Sean's sheep teasing, and I was positively livid.

Domesticgoddess said...

Thanks Lilian! He doesn't even tell his teachers the first few times he was bullied. When he finally told me, it was days later. But when I found out, I reminded him repeatedly to the teacher straightaway and let me know when I pick him up from school.

I have been telling my boys to use words to tell the bullies (if bullying is at the verbal abuse stage) to back off, and if it turns into physical bullying, to move away and not be alone with the bullies, then go tell the teachers straightaway. My hubby and FIL think that is cowardly and will only attract more persistent bullying.

I think it is important to learn to protect yourself first, then we can address the issue later. But if they are cornered and someone hits them (I'm imagining the worst in primary school!), then it is okay to defend and punch back, then run away to report.

rachel said...


i have been a silent follower of your blog for a while now and your stories about your boys strike a chord with me; i have one 6 year-old, isaac.

your post today reminded me of what my little guy went through when he was in n2 - another kid from his class would grab isaac's arms or legs randomly throughout the day, for no reason at all. the kid would always do it when the teacher was not looking.
one day the teachers saw the kid do a headlock on my boy and put a stop to it. that was when i found out about the persistent grabbing.

like you, i told isaac to tell the teacher and to move away from the grabber whenever the grabber comes near, but sometimes, the latter just isn't possible when they are having lessons. in the end, i was desperate enough to tell isaac that he has my permission to retaliate physically if the need arises, only to be reminded by him that he cannot do that because i had taught him that 'hitting others is not right.'

Lilian said...

Hi Rachel, gosh, what was the other boy thinking...watching too many wrestling shows? Isaac sounds like such a sensible kid. Did the other kid stop his nonsense eventually or did Isaac have to suffer the entire N2 year?

So far, my kids have not been subjected to physical bullying...I tell them if anyone does that to them, they are to punch back but I know they don't know how to do fight one lah. So I say, "If anyone dares to beat you up, let mummy know, I'll go to school and sit on him!" hehehe...Squash the little cockroaches!

Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law who lives in SFO has 2 sons told me this. Whenever a bully tries to hit her son, she told them to grab hold of his hand (before it touches him, of course) and tells him off. She doesnt believes in violence. I ask what if the bully is a much bigger boy?? No answer.

Lilian said...

Your SIL's strategy can work only if our kid is not just big enough but also swift enough. My kids have always been one of the shortest/smallest in class (Brian not anymore), so this won't really work, I'm afraid.