Not long ago, the idea that a preschooler might be a bully seemed crazy if you ask me. But my outlook changed when my son Nicky was 4. A bruiser of any boy in his class would chase girls round the classroom and pinch them for enjoyment. He frequently punched and smacked kids, and I once saw him kick a young child who has been playing with a wagon he wanted. The teachers spent time and effort reprimanding this boy and explaining what “okay” behavior was, but his menacing acts continued and Nicky learned to stay away from him.
Which had been merely the beginning. In kindergarten, Nicky encountered some kids who bothered everyone during recess. Last winter, a classmate told a girl he planned to shut down her hair using a knife. The vice principal set up meetings with each class through which the teachers explained that every child has the authority to feel safe in school.
These examples may appear extreme, but they aren’t. Bullying, the act of willfully causing damage to others through verbal harassment (teasing and name-calling), physical assault (hitting, kicking, and biting), or social exclusion (intentionally rejecting a young child from the group), used to be something parents didn’t need to worry about until their children had been a tween. Now it provides trickled right down to the youngest students. Actually, some research shows that tormenting has grown to be more common among 2- to 6-year-olds than among tweens and teens. “Small children are mimicking the aggressive behavior they see on TV shows, in video gaming, and from older siblings,” explains Susan Swearer, Ph.D., coauthor of Bullying Prevention & Intervention.
Overall, bullying in schools has turned into a national epidemic. Research published within the Journal of School Health found that 19 percent of U.S. elementary students are bullied. With each day, greater than 160,000 kids stay home from school since they fear being bullied, in accordance with market research from the National Education Association, a public-education advocacy group.
“Being bullied can have traumatic consequences for a kid, ultimately causing poor school performance, low confidence, anxiety, and in many cases depression,” says Parents advisor David Fassler, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry with the University of Vermont, in Burlington. Research published in Archives of General Psychiatry shown that kids who were bullied at age 8 were quite likely going to psychological problems as teens and early adults. Further, a University of Washington School of Medicine study discovered that elementary-school kids who definitely are victims of bullying are 80 percent very likely to feel “sad” most days.
Harassment has grown to be such a serious threat to kids’ health the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first official policy statement about the subject a year ago. It encourages physicians to boost awareness in their local schools as well as to provide screening and counseling for child victims devnpky82 their families.
There’s an excellent line between thoughtless or selfish actions and true bullying among small children. Most experts agree a child crosses the threshold if his actions are intentional and if they occur habitually. Why do some kids elect to inflict physical or emotional pain on others? “Bullies normally have low confidence,” says W. Michael Nelson, Ph.D., coauthor of Keeping Your Cool: The Anger Management Workbook, which was designed to help counselors who work with aggressive kids. “They lack empathy and also have a have to dominate others.”
Preschoolers will still be mastering basic social skills and determining how you can manage their own personal emotions, so their overly assertive actions may simply be a means of testing the boundaries of what?s acceptable. “Teasing and grabbing are part of every little kid’s development,” says Dr. Swearer. Around this age, a youngster acts less deliberately which is prone to torment whichever child is around her right now.
By kindergarten, children start to grasp the thought of social power among their peers, notes Elizabeth K. Englander, Ph.D., director in the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. That’s when aggressive kids begin to actively target others whom they see as vulnerable — whether it’s because they’re shy, sensitive, small, or simply just different.
Teachers tend to respond differently to how to tell when your child being bullied based on his age. In preschool, they try and instill kinder, gentler behavior. But by elementary school, their emphasis shifts toward protecting the victims. However, this overlooks the truth that it’s not very late to reform a budding bully, says Dr. Swearer. “Some kids need guidance with conflict resolution well into middle and high school.”
While teachers do their best to manage bullying, they can’t be there to witness or prevent it. School administrators might not even bear in mind that bullying is occurring. Victims often keep quiet because they fear they might be treated far worse if they tattle. And perhaps, principals simply don’t know how to approach the issue. A recently available national poll in the University of Michigan C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that only 38 percent of parents would award their child’s elementary school having an “A” grade in terms of preventing bullying and violence; 16 percent rated their school a “C”; 6 percent a “D”; and 5 percent gave it a failing mark.”
Ultimately, it’s your decision to help you your young child deal with a bully. Be on the lookout for signs that something is bothering her, and gently encourage her to let you know about problems she’s had with some other kids. Then anticipate to go ahead and take appropriate action.
Confer with your child’s teacher. If the harassment is happening at preschool or kindergarten, make administrators conscious of the issue immediately. Many schools use a specific protocol for intervening. Whenever you report an incident, be specific in regards to what happened and who had been involved.
Contact the offender’s parents. Here is the right approach exclusively for persistent acts of intimidation, and once you really feel these parents will probably be receptive to working in a cooperative manner along. Call or e-mail them in a non-confrontational way, rendering it clear your goal would be to resolve the matter together. You could say something such as, “I’m phoning because my daughter came home from school feeling upset every single day in the week. She tells me that Suzy has called her names and excluded her from games in the playground. I don’t know whether Suzy has mentioned any of this, but I’d like us to assist them get along better.
Coach him to get help. Regardless how your child will be targeted, fighting back usually isn’t the ideal solution. Rather, teach him simply to walk away and seek assistance from a teacher or a supervising adult. To head off being harassed about the school bus, propose that he sit next to friends, since a bully is more unlikely to pick out on a kid inside a group. But you may need to become involved. When Karin Telegadis’s daughter Grace started kindergarten, she had issues with one third-grader on her bus. “He gave Grace an ‘Indian sunburn’ and aimed to make her kiss another boy,” says Telegadis, of Princeton, New Jersey. When she discovered that the boy had also bothered other kids, she complained on the school and asked the bus driver to keep close track of him. He stopped misbehaving within two weeks.
Promote positive body language. By age 3, your son or daughter is able to learn tricks that will make her a less inviting target. “Inform your child to practice looking at the shade of her friends’ eyes as well as do the exact same thing when she’s talking to a youngster who’s bothering her,” says Michele Borba, Ed.D., a Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. This can force her to carry her head up so she’ll appear more confident. Also practice making sad, brave, and happy faces and tell her to change to “brave” if she’s being bothered. “Your appearance when you encounter a bully is more important than what you say,” says Dr. Borba.
Practice a script. Rehearse the proper way to answer a difficult kid (you could possibly make use of a stuffed animal being a stand-in) so your child will feel good prepared. Teach him to speak in a strong, firm voice — whining or crying will simply encourage a bully. Propose that he say something such as, “Stop bothering me!” or “I’m not gonna fiddle with you should you act mean.” He can also try, “Yeah, whatever,” and after that move on. “The bottom line is that the comeback shouldn’t be described as a put-down, because that aggravates a bully,” says Dr. Borba.
Erin Farrell Talbot, of New York City, prepped her 3-year-old son, Liam, on how to handle two aggressive boys at child care. “We discussed how if one of those grabs his toy, he should say, ‘No, stop! I’m having fun with that!’ inside a loud voice,” she says. “They stopped without delay. I’m proud while he learned the way to stick up for himself.”
Praise progress. As soon as your child notifys you how she defused a harasser, permit her to know you’re proud. Should you witness another child standing as much as a bully from the park, point it for your child so she can copy that approach. Especially, emphasize the idea that your own personal mom could possibly have told you once you were a child: If your kid implies that she can’t be bothered, a bully will usually move on.
When your child is the one teasing and threatening, you must take action immediately — not simply in the interest of the victims but to nip this behavior from the bud.
If one or a lot of above fits your youngster, have him practice techniques, including taking deep breaths or counting to ten, to help control his negative emotions. When you notice your son or daughter acting in the hurtful way, tell him to stop, remove him from your situation, then speak about what he could do instead the next occasion. However, when your efforts don’t produce a dent within his behavior, ask your doctor to recommend an appropriate mental-health professional.