Can Bullying Start in Preschool?
It’s tough to imagine why anyone would pick on your angel, but since it could happen, it helps to be aware of the signs of preschool bullying. Here’s how to tell if your child has preschool bullies on her back and what to do if she does.
preschoolers and bullying
All kids have days when they just don’t feel like going to preschool. But if your little one usually loves school and suddenly starts crying before drop-off daily or complaining of mystery aches and ailments that don’t add up, the issue may be more than a sensitive stomach: She might be facing preschool bullies.
Yes, unfortunately, there really is such a thing as bullying preschoolers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your child is the tiny target of bullying preschoolers, she likely doesn’t yet have the verbal skills to tell you she’s being tormented — or the social skills to know how to fight back (with her words, not her hands). It’s up to you to help her express what she feels and bully-proof her. Once you do, she’ll also be less likely to put up with bullies when she hits grade school. Here’s what to do about this preschool problem:
Talk with the teacher. She’s your best source for what’s going on in the classroom and on the playground. And even if you’re ready to throttle any preschool bully (and any teacher who hasn’t squelched the wrongdoing), stay cool. You’ll get a better response with questions than with accusations. If your preschooler openly tells you, “Chloe calls me names” or “Connor shoves me off the slide,” open with that info when you chat with the teacher. Then try a question like: “Does this square with what you see happening?” However, if your small fry’s not forthcoming with the facts and simply says she always feels sick before outdoor playtime, for instance, share that with the teacher. Ask if your child might be feeling targeted by another student. If the teacher hasn’t noticed the problem before, she’ll watch for it now.
Support your sweetie. Self-esteem is very much a work in progress for a preschooler, so little ones can easily think they “deserve” to be bullied or feel embarrassed to admit to you that other tots tease them. Reassure your child that she’s not at fault for preschool bullying and you’ll help her work this out.
Offer your tyke peaceful options. As tempting as it may be, telling your child to push or name-call back can rile up preschool bullies even more. Instead, teach your child alternatives: telling the bully to stop, walking away, ignoring the bully and playing with other friends, and asking a teacher for help.
Role-play with your child. Once you’ve given your critter appropriate reactions to preschool bullying, act out some common sticky situations. Have her practice standing up a bit taller and speaking loudly to say things like, “I don’t like that!” and “Stop pushing me!” Tell her that in this situation, it’s best to keep a “poker face” (not cry or show anger) when the other child bothers her, and show her how to make one. The payoff: Bullies eventually leave confident kids alone.
And if that fails, go back to the teacher for more help or contact the preschool director for suggestions. Preschool bullies — who can be quite sneaky — are often tough to catch and correct. Your preschool director (and not you) may need to get the parents of the bullying preschooler involved.
About the Author: Genevieve
As the current Owner & Executive Director of 2 preschool centers, Genevieve has over 20 years experience in early childhood education as well as almost a decade of work in the fields of sustainability and green business. Genevieve has always carried an eco-conscious approach to life and shares those imperative philosophies with the children she teaches. She continues her work with Origins Education, combining her passion for children, her expertise in early childhood education and her knowledge of the principles of sustainability and the new economy movement. Origins Education’s goal is help foster a generation of young people committed to enhancing the health and wealth of their own communities and ecosystems, to nurture a sense of caring for the Earth and all its inhabitants and to support a lifestyle grounded in an Earth and human-centered ethic.