How to Handle Preschool Bullies

School bullying is consistently in the media spotlight and most parents are aware that it is a serious problem. But it is surprising to know that youngest and most vulnerable of the age groups – the toddler and preschool crowd can also be the target of bullying.

Although the problem is not prevalent in nurseries around Dubai, it is best to be aware of the situation and not to dismiss it lightly with a “kids will be kids” attitude.

Deborah Carpenter, a mom of two, author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Bullies found out that there were hints her son was being bullied.

So apart from taking immediate action, she tells us what are the telltale signs to watch for:

  • Your child loved preschool but now doesn’t want to go.
  • He / She complains of bellyaches or headaches before being dropped off at a play-date, daycare or preschool.
  • He / She no longer wants to play with a child he once liked.
  • He / She repeatedly tells you a certain kid is “bothering,” “bugging,” or being mean to him.
  • He / She suddenly becomes withdrawn, depressed, fearful or clingy.
  • He / She makes derogatory remarks about himself, like “I’m a loser,” “I’m stupid” or “No one likes me.”
  • He / She has unexplained boo-boos. Little kids get bumps and bruises when they play, but if your child seems to have more than a normal amount or “forgets” the details of getting hurt, it might warrant a closer look.

What to do?

STEP ONE: Find out what’s going on

If you suspect your child is being bullied then ask him pertinent questions and no matter what your child tells you, do not get unduly upset. Be supportive of his feelings and assure him that no matter what happens you will always be there for him and that you love him. And together you can work out a solution.

STEP TWO: Help him figure out how to respond

Children shouldn’t be expected to deal with bullies on their own, but usually, bullying happens under the radar. Role-playing with him is a great way to help a little kid learn, and it’ll boost your child’s confidence. Tactics he can try:

  • Stand tall and act brave.
  • Ignore the bully.
  • Stick with friends. Bullies try to isolate certain kids so they can pick on them.
  • Tell an adult. The best way to stay safe is to tell a grown-up what’s happening. If you’re not there, he should go to the teacher.

STEP THREE: Take action yourself

  • If your child is attending attends daycare, nursery school or preschool, set up a meeting with the teacher or caregiver. If you don’t get help, don’t give up. Apply pressure until a solution can be found (even if it means moving the bully or your child to a different classroom or, in some extreme cases, a different school).

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