Childrearing

My Daughter Unknowingly Bullied A Special Needs Kid

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bullyMy daughter is not a mean-spirited child. I realize that every parent who has ever existed believes this and I don’t care. I will defend her good intentions and kind heart til my dying day. My little girl is a sweet child.

That being said, she’s also a kid and there are things that she doesn’t understand or hasn’t been exposed to yet. And the first time that she encounters something new, there’s the possibility that her strong voice or curious nature can lead to difficult circumstances. This was one of those times.

Brenna has attended the same daycare since she was a month old. Her provider normally has about six or eight children at a time of varying ages. Through the years, we’ve gotten to know the other families at the sitter’s pretty well, attending each other’s birthday parties and exchanging chit chat in the foyer. And one family that my daughter has grown up with has a daughter with special needs.

I’m not exactly sure what Sarah’s* specific medical diagnosis is. I know that she has physical limitations and wears a back brace. She’s in late elementary school but has the comprehension and speech of a toddler. Sarah is normally a sweet child who has a tendency to invade personal space and misunderstand her own strength, but generally just wants to make people happy.

In the beginning, my daughter simply didn’t understand that Sarah was different from other kids. When they were younger, it didn’t matter that Sarah wasn’t progressing like the other kids were. The children were all small enough that they didn’t notice. This year, however, my daughter finally became old enough to start questioning the situation.

One day, while the kids were playing, my inquisitive girl started asking why Sarah wore a diaper. She’s not one to drop an issue without a satisfactory answer and when Sarah couldn’t explain, Brenna kept questioning. Finally, Brenna said what had been on her thoughts. “You’re too big for a diaper. Babies wear diapers, Sarah. You can’t wear a diaper unless you’re a baby.”

Sarah’s feelings were understandably hurt. She started crying. Brenna remained confused. It’s hard for children to understand the effect their words can have.

(Photo: wavebreakmedia ltd/Shutterstock)

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