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I have a nephew who's in kindergarden. He's shy and dislikes conflict, when other boys get loud, he goes away to where it's quieter. Another boy accused him of having kicked him; he says he didn't do it. Now I don't know what exactly happened, of course, but from what I know about my nephew, I think it's extremely unlikely he kicked someone. The kindergarden teacher seems to agree.

However, the mother of the boy who accused him made a big deal out of a (in my eyes) small issue and demanded consequences, and the kindergarden teacher made my nephew apologize to the other boy. From what I was told, I'm getting the impression she just wanted to get the mother off her back and that was the path of least resistance and the simplest thing that would do it.

My nephew came home and told my sister he was told to apologize, and that he did, but he didn't know what for.

Now I don't want to get involved in this, but if my nephew was my son, I would have requested a talk with the kindergarden teacher and demanded an explanation.

Two kids who tell different stories about what happened in a small-scale fight (if you can call it that - I really doubt they actually got physical) seems like something that would happen all the time in kindergarden. I know it happens often enough with my own kids, at home. How would you expect the teacher to handle it, especially with one party's mother demanding consequences? And would you talk to the teacher about the forced apology, or let it go?

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Too many bad things happen in a case like this. I believe for the development of both children this is a critical moment. Because these are children we are training, teaching, and molding, making peace is not the number one goal as it may be with co-workers, spouses, roommates, etc. The number one goal is the growth of the children.

Issue with the Bully
First, child 1 thinks he can manipulate adults and in a way 'punish' another kid by creating a story. This will increase his desire to manipulate others in general as it is a sense of power and success. Obviously this trend is self-feeding and non-sustainable. Which means this bad behavior will grow worse with time, and eventually fail.

The greatest issue of when it fails is, how will the kid handle this trick of deception not working anymore? In most cases it will bring about anger and not getting the desired effect and being caught in the lie. Anger brings about even more issues. It is critical this be caught early.

There is a long chain of events being started in this moment which leads to a corrupt spirit - if you will.

Just as some people say the threat of global warming is so severe that we must take action now, so is the threat of the future corruption of spirit so great that action should be taken now.

Issue with the Victim
Second, the kid who has been lied about also is at risk. First, he will become a victim quickly as the threat of being told on will bring about compliance. If a pattern of bullying develops and is sustained not only will the shy kid give in, he will also learn that the teacher will not protect him.

When more serious problems occur he may not have the trust to bring them to the attention of those whose job it is to protect him. This extends to his parents if they stand idly (hopefully they are at least 'getting his back' at home when they talk about the situation).

As with the bully, the long term threat for the victim is a spiritual problem of a crushed spirit and the loss of hope in being safe and protected.

The Teacher
Chances are that the teacher (just like we parents) don't want to deal with the issue and probably doesn't have the time for it. 7 year old's are expected to do a lot in school (in the USA) and are already being tested. Issues like this seem small and truly the educational system in the US does not prepare teachers for this type of situation.

Everyone should work together on this situation and while it is possible that the other parent will be defensive, an attempt at the truth should be made. The parent of child 1 deserves to have a chance to know about the behavior or at the very least know to start being a little more attentive to what the child is doing and saying.

Potential Resolution
A 15 minute parent conference where there isn't any blaming but rather an understanding of what each kid believes happened would be helpful. Probably something without the kids there, where the teacher simply explains the two sides of the story with the only goal of letting everyone be on the same page and know what to look out for in the future. (i.e. where there is smoke...)

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    Nice use of the term "spirit", I like it. Also, it's very important to confront the teacher - by doing that, they are shown giving in to the loudest bully does not instantly make the problem go away. No screaming confrontations necessary, but if - after hearing the whole story - the teachers actions were indeed flawed, a simple "I'm disappointed by your actions" will have the same punishing effect on adults as it has on children. – Peter Feb 19 '18 at 22:56
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At the school my kid is going to both side have to apologize when a fight (or any kind of argument) happens. I think it's a good rule and if there are no other consequences it seems reasonably small.

Usually kids don't accuse eachother for no reason. Your nephew might not have kicked him but what is the other kid expecting to get out of it? Did he just crave attention or is there any chance your nephew is doing that might set the other kid off? If i look my son he can without breaking any rule make sure my daughter does (like stand in front of here 2 inches away and then make mock fighting moves and when he gets hit back he is of course very innocent because he didn't touch here, which is absolutely true). I'm not saying your nephew is making mock fighting moves but my experience is that there might be more to the situation than just the other kid accusing him out of the blue.

And even if that's all there is too it, just apologize and move on. It's a good way to keep the peace.

  • Yes, I observe the same pattern of provocations with my own kids. But I can't picture my nephew doing anything like that. He actively removes himself from any situation that might turn into a conflict, to the point where he lets other kids take his toys away from him so as not to have to get into a conflict. It's quite painful to watch. I can't even hazard a guess why the other boy would wrongly accuse him. I like the "both sides apologize" approach but I'm having trouble accepting that you are forced to apologize without even knowing what for (I'm assuming my nephew is truthful here). – Pascal says Talk To Monica Feb 18 '18 at 19:50
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    Of course it can happen, but i would be surprised of the teacher called your nephew, said "now apologize" without any context and without your nephew having any clue that the other kid even made an accusation. You can always talk to the teacher and ask if she explained the situation. But in general i'd say just let it go. If it's just this one instance it doesn't help your nephew to make a big deal out of this. – Batavia Feb 18 '18 at 20:08
  • I wasn't planning to I just wanted to see how the community here would handle it. Thanks for your take on it! – Pascal says Talk To Monica Feb 18 '18 at 20:26
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    @Batavia: When in doubt, you should be in your child's corner. What do you think the child feels when another child, the child's mom, the teacher and his own mom gang up on him, especially if he didn't do anything? – gnasher729 Feb 27 '18 at 23:22
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    @gnasher729 Ganging up on a child is never a good idea. However i can talk to my kids, in private, and say i know you didn't do it but we have to appologize anyway. Also often, depening on the story, i (think i) can judge if he really didn't do anything or if there is more to the story. Supporting the child, believing him, not give appologies because of principles and making a big deal out of the situation are 4 very different things. Supporting him i always do, but the others depend on the siutation and that's hard to judge based on a forum post – Batavia Mar 1 '18 at 9:02

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