Kicked in the stomach, struck in the face, pushed to the ground, told she was ugly and stupid, excluded from play and threatened with worse if she tried to cry for help. Such was the life of my daughter – in preschool!!! That’s right. She was four years old.
Believe it or not, bullying in the early years does happen; more frequently than you might think. Until it affected my own flesh and blood, I might have scoffed at the idea that a 4-year old could cause the kind of harm my daughter endured. But believe me, preschool bullying is real and is something parents should be on the lookout for.
Since the days when preschool bullying affected my family, I’ve had several years to reflect on our experience and to educate myself on a phenomenon that caused us such distress. I can honestly say that I’m empathetic to the plight of both the “bully” (I hate using that word, or any label for that matter, but you know what I mean) and the “victim” (again – the label is used here solely for clarity purposes) and their respective families.
There are loads of reasons why these situations might happen and there are steps that can be taken to prevent it. It’s not that the child in the position of power, repeatedly behaving aggressively and speaking unkindly to another is a “bad kid”. And it is not somehow the victim’s fault that the bullying behaviours are happening to them. Naturally, kids have different personalities, stressors and influences and they learn what they live, so it’s kinda hard to blame a 4-year-old for their behaviour, one way or the other. No?
So, what’s a parent to do? Well, it’s a good idea to have regular chats with your preschooler about their daily experiences and just see what they have to say about how they are treated and how they behave toward their peers. It’s amazing what a little one will tell you if you just ask.
Should you sense a problem or something to be explored further, have a chat with the preschool teacher. Heck, have a chat with the preschool teacher just anyway. If your kid is anything like mine was, she’s not gonna tell about her persecution any time soon – I only found out because a classmate was frightened by what she saw every day and finally reported it.
It also can’t hurt to find out what you can do to prevent bullying and how to respond if it happens. My wish for you is that bullying never enters your child’s world, regardless of which side of the relationship she’s on. But, if it does, you’ll be prepared.
Check out our other related blogs for more information.
Has bullying touched your life, from either side of the coin? Let’s talk about it:
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About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)