Imagine that your child finally begins preschool, only to be bullied whenever he plays outside in the schoolyard. It sounded unbelievable to Circle of Moms member Hanan Y. Yet like other moms whose kids have been through the preschool years, she now knows first-hand that toddler torment does occur.
“I can’t believe that bullying can start as early as junior kindergarten! Are you kidding me?” says Hanan, aghast. Another child has made a sport out of knocking her son to the ground, taking off and throwing his hat, and even holding him against a wall so he can’t move.
At such a young age, the idea of someone hurting your child physically or emotionally can be enough to make you consider homeschooling. But before you pull your child out of preschool, consider these three suggestions for halting the harassment.
1. Teach Your Child to Speak Up
During the preschool years, kids often don't know how to get the help they need. Either they're shy, or don't yet have the language skills to tell you or the teacher exactly what happened. As Circle of Moms member Ghita M. explains of her little boy, he "does not always speak up for himself, so I have to constantly tell him to talk to me or his teachers about anything that troubles him, ever." Parents need to actively encourage their children to speak up — and make it their business to find out exactly whats occurring at school.
“Talk to your [child] with calmness and tell her that telling her problems to you is a good thing to do,” advises Darlene M. “Openness is very important.” And Julie E. reminds us that, “It has taken great courage for your child to tell you what they are going through. You know your child better than anyone. It is important that a child is believed until proven otherwise. Tell your child that you are proud that they have had the courage to deal with this matter and trusted you to help them.”
2. Talk to the Teacher
Preschool-aged children are rarely equipped to handle bullies on their own. That’s another reason it’s important for parents to step in. As Hanan shares, her first step was to speak with her son's teachers and ask them to speak to the bully’s parents. When that failed to stop the bullying, she scheduled an appointment with the principal.
When another boy was bothering Ghita's son, she asked him who it was and shared that information with the teacher. The teacher then talked to the boy's parents. “I would never leave it up to a young child to take care of such serious matters as bullying without stepping in.”
3. Help Your Child Build Friendships
When it comes to bullies, it never hurts to have a BFF as an ally. As the adage goes, there’s safety in numbers. Bullies are less likely to pick on a child who is playing with others.
Talk to your [child] about the other kids in the class, recommends Holly B. “Who is she friends with? … Who does she like to sit with at lunch? Also when do the threats occur? Help your daughter reach out to some of the other kids in her class." She recommends setting up play dates outside of school to "develop relationships and bonding."
When Suzanne V.’s son encountered a bully at daycare, she took an empathetic approach. As she shares, “I explained to him that bullies are sometimes acting out that way because they want and need attention but don't know how to interact with other kids to get it in a nicer way. . . I asked him if he would be willing to try to make a friend out of the bully and he said he would try. . . .My son began actively seeking out the bully's involvement in his activities with his friends. Low and behold, he wound up with a raving fan. . . . I think this approach is definitely worth a try, especially for younger children.”
Remember that bullying takes many forms, as Monica Z. notes. When your child is bullied, he or she can become fearful of school and unable learn to his or her full potential. “Please listen to your children and help them, no matter what it takes.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.