What can you do if your toddler is being bullied in preschool? It's difficult enough to handle conflicts between toddlers when you're there in person, but helping your child cope with troubles at school is even harder. Here are a few steps you can take to help minimize the stress your child feels if he or she is a victim of bullying.
Stay Neutral and Calm
When finding out more about your child's problems at preschool, it's important not to teach him or her to be sad or upset. Children can be incredibly resilient both emotionally and physically, which means it's often easier for them to handle bullying then parents expect it to be. However, they are also highly impressionable, and toddlers especially are still learning how to feel about events in their lives based on your own reactions as a parent.
If you react with anger or strong emotion to a story about your child being bullied, he or she may learn to be angry or sad as well, which will only make dealing with the bad behavior from other students even more difficult.
For this reason, try to find out about your child's problems with other students in a very calm and neutral way so that you and your child can work on pragmatic solutions together. Of course, if your child is upset you should comfort her or him, but it's a good idea to avoid leading your toddler to negative emotional conclusions. Find out how your child feels before expressing your own feelings.
Know the Difference between Fighting and Bullying
Conflicts between young children are very common, considering they often lack the communication skills necessary to peacefully express their troubles to one another. Hitting or yelling to get a toy from another child is an example of fighting that does not necessarily stem from bullying behavior. Fighting normally starts with disagreements or misunderstandings and does not recur unless the disagreement or misunderstanding recurs.
Bullying, on the other hand, is a pattern of bad behavior directed toward your child, often seemingly without cause, that does not stop when individual conflicts are resolved between children. Cases of bullying often have a social aspect, involving ostracism and rejection from the in-group as well. If your child's stories about the day at school involve mention of being forced out of the group or made the play alone, red flags should go up right away.
Dealing with bullying requires a greater level of oversight and proactivity from teachers and parents, so it is important to evaluate what your child tells you about disputes with his or her schoolmates in order to identify when they have just been fighting or if your child is being bullied by their peers.
Talk to Your Child's Teacher
If you have reason to believe your child is being bullied at school by one or more of their peers, your first recourse should be to discuss the issue with his or her teacher. While it isn't advisable for adults to try and summarily end conflicts between children, it is a good idea to let the teacher know about your suspicions so that you can ensure your child is watched carefully and potential bullying behavior from other children is noted.
Once your child's teacher has been notified about the bullying, he or she can take several courses of action to help protect your child. For example, teachers might arrange a meeting between the parents of children involved in recurring conflicts in order to work out a personalized solution to the problems their children face.
If the bullying behavior is new in the teacher's class, he or she may devise lessons plans that revolve around conflict resolution and politeness between students. This is a good way to address children's mistreatment without shining a spotlight on them directly.
Bullying can make life difficult for any child, but young children are especially vulnerable because they lack the skills to understand and cope with bad behavior from their peers. Talk to your child and your child's teacher about your concerns if you think he or she may be bullied at school. With proactivity and pragmatism, you can help your child resolve longstanding conflicts and avoid being a victim.
For further information about methods for conflict resolution at preschools, contact a school representative through a website like http://www.kidscountry.net.