Author Topic: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?  (Read 7657 times)

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Betelnut

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #30 on: June 20, 2013, 01:21:04 PM »
I don't think it was belittling--maybe rude, depending on the tone, or joking--again, depends on the tone.

Sure, "zip it" means "shut up" but so does "be quiet" or "Don't say a word! but I don't consider it that mean.

 

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LadyJaneinMD

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #31 on: June 20, 2013, 01:51:40 PM »
I spent most of my young life being belittled and teased, so I tend to be extra-sensitive to it.

This was a little bit belittling, but not a whole lot, even by my over-sensitive standards.  Talk to the girl and see if maybe she was just having a 'sensitive' day.  Talk to the leader too, just in case, but PLEASE don't let this get into a 'we mustn't tease X because she'll CRY!' situation.

And yes, I've been through that, too.  It's even worse.

whatsanenigma

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #32 on: June 20, 2013, 02:00:21 PM »
I spent most of my young life being belittled and teased, so I tend to be extra-sensitive to it.

This was a little bit belittling, but not a whole lot, even by my over-sensitive standards.  Talk to the girl and see if maybe she was just having a 'sensitive' day.  Talk to the leader too, just in case, but PLEASE don't let this get into a 'we mustn't tease X because she'll CRY!' situation.

And yes, I've been through that, too.  It's even worse.

I agree with all of this.  Especially the part about talking to the girl first.  See what she wants done, if she wants the leader or whoever talked to or what.

What I also might do, might be to discreetly look into whether or not this girl has been bullied.  Maybe this youth group serves as an "alternative peer group" for her outside of school and she's used to, when it's in school, being part of the overall bullying behavior, and yes, it's a joke...but they are laughing at, not with, her.

If this is the case, she probably panicked when the comments were made and possibly thought "Oh no, not again".  And so she got upset.   Maybe she needs to talk it out with someone, that this is a safer environment, and yes, it really was just joking, with her being treated as anyone else would have been.  Not to make her feel bad for her reaction, of course, but just some reassurance that this place and these people are not that place and those people, and she can relax and feel safer.

I know, that might be going out on a limb, and totally incorrect.  Maybe she was just having a bad day for some other reason.  But, I'll just say, that situation and reaction sound familiar to me.  So I thought I would put it out there, just in case.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #33 on: June 20, 2013, 02:08:23 PM »
When I was that age, also about a million years ago, I was very sensitive. I think what the boy said would probably not have bothered me. It appeared to be good-natured teasing amongst friends. I might have responded with something like, "You wish! That's probably the only way you could win!"

But, what the youth group leader said would probably have left me in tears as well. It seemed blunt and aggressive.

So, I would definitely say something about the situation with the leader, focusing on what he said and how she reacted.

Yeah, it came across to me as the boy WAS being teasing/playful and the youth leader was being too "into" the game and came across as mean.

But, without knowing the voice/tones, its hard to tell. One, the other or both hurt this girl's feelings, and church is the LAST place to make a teenager/child/well, anyone feel unwelcome or hurt. I left my youth group over something FAR smaller and less hurtful. (They forgot my name. After four months of going, both the youth leaders couldn't remember my name and they told new members the wrong name. So I stopped going. Yes it was a tiny, insignificant thing, but I was hormonal and 14 and it hurt that no one could remember "me".)

I tend to agree. I see nothing inappropriate about the boy's comments--that's normal banter for this type of game. If one of the girl's peers on her own team had told her to "zip it" in a affectionate, jokey tone, I think it would fall into the same category. The fact that one of the adult leaders said it is what seems off to me. Even if said in a jokey tone with innocent intent, the fact that a command to shut up is coming from the authority figure in charge of the group lends some extra weight to it.* It's no longer banter between kids on equal footing. If it was not said in a jokey tone, then it gives the impression that the leader is more concerned about winning than about all of the kids having fun.

*I think it could be ok in other situations. E.g., a leader saying a jokey "Guys, zip it" if they were interrupting the program when they should have been quiet would be reasonable--the leader has a genuine reason to tell them to stop talking and decides to do so in a jokey way. A leader telling a kid to "zip it" when everyone else is allowed to talk seems wrong.

ettiquit

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #34 on: June 20, 2013, 02:13:35 PM »
I spent most of my young life being belittled and teased, so I tend to be extra-sensitive to it.

This was a little bit belittling, but not a whole lot, even by my over-sensitive standards.  Talk to the girl and see if maybe she was just having a 'sensitive' day.  Talk to the leader too, just in case, but PLEASE don't let this get into a 'we mustn't tease X because she'll CRY!' situation.

And yes, I've been through that, too.  It's even worse.

Yup, I can relate as well.

At that age I would have been pretty embarrassed by what the youth leader said and likely would have kept silent for the rest of the game too.  My rule of thumb is "teasing is only funny if everyone's laughing".  Who cares if you think the person being teased is "too sensitive" and "over-reacting"?  If the person being teased clearly isn't into it, knock it off.

I probably wouldn't say anything to the youth leader unless a pattern emerges though.

Allyson

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #35 on: June 20, 2013, 02:38:04 PM »
I think, in absence of a pattern, I wouldn't say anything. The posts here demonstrate that there's not really a consensus on the leader's words. I could absolutely see them being said in either a nasty way or not, and part of that would also depend on the relationship overall between the leader and the teens. As a sensitive kid, I might well have been upset, but it wouldn't necessarily have meant the leader did something wrong. On the other hand, I think repeated comments like this, especially if they were repeatedly directed to the same few kids, would not be ok, so it's something to keep an eye out for.

Jones

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #36 on: June 20, 2013, 02:48:12 PM »
I would have been terribly hurt under the same circumstances at that age; however, my "youth group" at church had a pattern of verbal abuse towards me.
For examples, the Sunday school teacher saw me teaching myself how to roller blade (at age 14) once, and publicly made fun of me several Sundays in a row for it. If she'd taken me to task at a game as described in the OP, it would have been sneak off and cry-worthy for me. An age-mate called me a b* and a wh*, many times, because it was all said with smiles and chuckles (on HIS part not mine! He was only joking don'tcha know, that Jones isn't really a b*, so she shouldn't take it so hard) he was allowed to continue to do so after I complained. If that age-mate had been the one who teased me at a game mistake, that too would have resulted in my sneaking away and crying yet again, the way I did most Sundays.

Yes, there were other incidents among other leaders and kids my age, those listed above were the worst, but as soon as I had a driver's license and a job I avoided attending church, just avoiding the whole lot of co-conspirators. It was a testament to how bad the teasing was that my parents didn't force me to attend after a few slight protests.

Anyway, if someone--anyone! Besides my parents, as they had no real "authority" in the group--had kept an eye on me and seen the ongoing pattern, THEN said and done something, it really would have meant the world to me.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #37 on: June 20, 2013, 11:18:52 PM »
I agree that tone is everything. If the boy and youth leader were using a jokey, light tone, then I'd assume the girl was overreacting. In that case, I wouldn't say anything.

However, if the boy's tone was sneering, and the youth leader's tone came across as more of an order than a joke, I think you should definitely do something. If you think the youth leader can be trusted to be discreet, I'd let him/her know that the girl was upset. (That's ONLY if the youth leader can be discreet. The last thing you want is the youth leader raising the issue with the girl in front of all the other kids at the next youth group meeting).

BusyBee

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #38 on: June 21, 2013, 11:58:20 AM »
I don't think the girl is owed an apology. This is likely a "least said, soonest mended" case.

But I do think that the leader's choice of words was harsh. "Zip it," to me is pretty equal to "shut up." So unless the leader's tone of voice was very friendly and nice and kind, "zip it" comes across as very harsh to me. Even as an adult, I'd be taken aback if someone told me to "zip it."

So I'm a little surprised that so many posters here don't think what the leader said was in any way wrong. Perhaps it is just how "zip it" is used by my family and friends, but it is not considered a friendly or kind phrase by anyone I know.

And I can see why the girl was upset. She make a mistake in the game. Then, on the next round, one of the boys brought up the mistake. Then one of the adults in the group felt the need to bring it up again.

Maybe I'm "too sensitive" like this girl, but I'd not be happy with the adult's handling of the matter. Teasing from the other kids--not happy about it, but it is to be expected. Being told to shut up by one of the group's leaders--not expected, and really, not necessary. So, yeah, I'd be feeling upset. Not crying, because I learned to hide feeling upset at an early age. But certainly not eager to attend that group again.

Call me over-sensitive, too.  There was no need for an adult to pile on the the girl's embarrasment.  The boy's comment was not terribly out of line, but the teacher should be diffusing not escalating it.  I wouldn't rush to say bullying, but that type of following reation from an authority figure would signal that this girl would make an acceptable target.

I had to re-read becuase I initially thought the leader's "zip it" was directed at the boy, and felt there was no problem telling him to cut it out.

TurtleDove

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #39 on: June 21, 2013, 02:28:37 PM »
I think this girl is going to have a rough time in life if comments as innocuous as those reduces her to tears in the bathroom.

She's definitely too sensitive.

POD.  I wouldn't say anything to the leader but rather to the girl.  To me, she is lacking important social skills if she cannot grasp sarcasm/joking around.  Coddling her is not likely to serve her well as she grows older.  Explaining that she overreacted and is overly and negatively sensitive might help her.

camlan

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #40 on: June 21, 2013, 04:12:40 PM »
Telling her she overreacted isn't going to help. It could easily make matters worse.

Don't we say here that you are entitled to feel what you feel when someone does something that bothers/hurts you?

Telling her she overreacted is adding yet another criticism. First, she made a mistake and she probably feels pretty stupid about that. Then a peer comments on it--more feeling stupid. Then the group leader tells her to shut up. More embarrassment and shame. Then another adult comes along and tells her she is overreacting--telling her that even her feelings are wrong. Trust me, that is not going to help. Been there, got the "you are just too sensitive" lecture a million times.

What I wanted to yell at all those people telling me I was too sensitive was, "You are just not sensitive enough! Why do you get to determine how sensitive I can be?" but I never dared.

If anything is said to the young lady, it should be along the lines of, "I could tell you were very upset by what happened that evening. Anyone would be embarrassed about making that mistake, and the comments people were making didn't help that any, did it? I'm sorry all that left you crying in the bathroom. I think there are some things you and I can work on that will help you to deal better when you are publicly embarrassed or criticized like that, so you can stand  up to those people and not have to leave the group. Would you like that?"

Don't tell her what she felt was wrong. It wasn't. Do teach her how to handle her emotions better. Do teach her how to come up with a witty comeback when a peer teases her. Do give her the skills to cope with her sensitive nature so that she can get along with others with the least amount of hurt.

My parents told me for years that I was "too sensitive" when I reacted to the teasing my brothers subjected me to. Didn't matter if I ran away from them, cried, hid in my room, yelled, hit them--it was all my fault because I was "too sensitive." Decades later, several relatives have told me that they were very concerned when I was a child, because they felt my brothers were too aggressive, too bullying, allowed by my parents to take the teasing well beyond the limit of "fun." But in my family and in those days, you simply didn't comment on the parenting of others.

So I'm always very wary of the "she's too sensitive" comment. All too often, it comes from someone who has crossed the line but is unwilling to admit it.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


ettiquit

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #41 on: June 21, 2013, 04:15:45 PM »
POD to everything Camlan said.

Constantly being called too sensitive and a "drama queen" was pretty damaging for me. 

How you (general) would react to something like is completely irrelevant. 

TurtleDove

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #42 on: June 21, 2013, 04:19:19 PM »
I think there are some things you and I can work on that will help you to deal better when you are publicly embarrassed or criticized like that, so you can stand  up to those people and not have to leave the group.

To me it is obvious that no one was publicly embarrassing her or criticizing her.  They were joking around.  It was a game, for crying out loud.  If this girl's self esteem is tied to how well she plays a trivia game at a church function, that is what should be addressed, in my opinion.  She is entitled to feel however she feels, but the only person she is hurting is herself.  The world is not likely to change to accomodate her inability to function in it. I hope she can learn to better handle her emotions and stop being hurt by common banter.

Jones

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #43 on: June 21, 2013, 04:20:33 PM »
I love your post, Camlan.

camlan

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Re: Is this belittling a child? And what to say about it?
« Reply #44 on: June 21, 2013, 04:21:05 PM »



I had to re-read becuase I initially thought the leader's "zip it" was directed at the boy, and felt there was no problem telling him to cut it out.

That's a good point. In a church group, I'd expect the adult leaders to be modeling good behavior. So, no piling on the kid who made a silly mistake.

But maybe a correction to the person who brought it up later--along the lines of "Hey, no hitting when someone's down!" or "Billy, enough of that," or "Okay, Billy, no need to remind everyone."
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn