Bullying can begin at any age.
Children who come from homes where violence is an acceptable form of punishment often learn from mom and dad the hidden lesson that hitting is sometimes ok.
These children are not necessarily “bad” children, they are simply acting out what they have been taught is acceptable.
That may not be helpful, however, if your child is the one receiving the blunt end of another child’s first acts of violence.
The most important thing you can to help your child if he or she is being bullied at preschool is teach them how to communicate in a direct and appropriate manner.
-Show your child how to stand assertively, legs apart, hands on hips.
-Help him or her practice assertiveness, by saying loudly, firmly and clearly “DO NOT HIT ME. HITTING IS NOT OK.” and/or “DO NOT HIT ME. I DO NOT LIKE TO BE HIT.”
-Tone of voice is very important when communicating with a bully. Make sure your child is speaking loudly and clearly. If not, have him/her keep practicing until they feel confident enough to do so.
-Eye contact is another important factor. Teach your child how to look a bully “right in the eye.”
Realize that bullies, even at this young age, seem to have a good sense for knowing who they can pick on, and who won’t stand for it.
Helping your child become one of those children who “won’t stand for being bullied” is your best defense for dealing with children who hit.
Help your little one build self confidence, and teach them that no-one has the right to hurt them, ever.
The best thing you can do, of course, is to teach your child how to deal with this type of situation on his/her own. This is a lesson he or she can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Later, when the High School bully is looking for a willing victim, you can rest easy, knowing it won’t be your child.
Children learn a lot from how adults respond to their situations.
Be careful that you don’t try to solve all of your child’s problems for him/her. This creates a needy child, who doesn’t learn to take care of things without your help.
Make sure that your child isn’t falling into the role of “victim” because he/she is getting attention and pity for being “picked on.”
If this happens, your child may begin to create many such scenarios throughout his or her life, because of the attention received from this situation.
When/If all else fails:
-If your child continues to experience violence in preschool, follow up with teachers, school administrators or even the other child’s parents.
-Mean what you say. If you tell your child that he or she is a valuable person, and does not deserve to be hit or hurt, you may need to follow up, and demonstrate that you will act upon your belief.
-Do not back down. By following through, even if the school staff is not helpful, you reinforce the lesson to your child, showing them that you believe they are valuable and no-one else has the right to hurt them.
Evidence suggests that children have formed their basic personalities by the time they are 5 years old. With this knowledge, we realize how important these early childhood experiences can be. Using a situation such as this, to help your child learn and develop good coping and communication skills, is one sure way to turn a negative situation into a positive one.