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Six Steps for Parents Concerned About Bullying
- Communication is Key: If you suspect your child is being bullied at preschool, let him know that you can help with the situation if he tells you what’s happening. If your youngster seems scared or embarrassed, use books as a nonthreatening way to open the lines of communication. Some children’s books that address the topic of bullying include Shrinking Violet by Cari Best (Melsnie Kroupa books, 2001), and Myrtle by Tracy Campbell Pearson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004). Once your child disclosed all the details about being bullied, stay calm, avoid judging and reassure him that you’ll help put a halt to the bullying.
- Talk to the Teacher: “Even though adults are always present in the preschool and daycare settings, with so many kids running around, it’s not realistically possible for teachers to see everything” says retired pre-kindergarten teacher Tricia Young. And since bullies prefer to strike when adults aren’t watching, it’s important to talk to your child’s teacher and make her aware of the situation so she can be more vigilant with supervision.
- Take Advantage of Open Doors: Most reputable daycare centers and preschools have an open door policy which allows parents to drop by anytime (as long as they’re not disruptive) during normal hours. So make periodic unannounced visits to your child’s classroom. These surprise visits will keep the preschool staff on their toes and reduce the likelihood of your child being teased by a bully.
- Schedule a Parenting Parley: When young children bully, the behavior is often learned from experiences in the home, such as domestic abuse, inappropriate television shows, hearing siblings ridicule others, or being victims of bullying themselves. So work with your child’s preschool administrators to set up a meeting with the bully’s parents to bring the behavior to their attention – but don’t be surprised if the parents are uncooperative, nonchalant, or in denial.
- Bully-Proof Your Child: Give your child the tools he or she needs to handle a bully. Teach him how to stand tall, look the bully in the eye, tell an adult, and avoid being alone. You can also empower your child by role-playing with him so he can practice what he’s going to do next time he’s approached by a bully. Confident children are less likely to be targeted by bullies, so find ways to build your child’s self-esteem. You can help him develop friendships outside of preschool and get him involved in confidence-boosting activities.
- Consider Changing Classrooms: Sometimes bullying can be so aggressive that your efforts to stop it are unsuccessful. So if you’re getting nowhere, talk to the preschool director about having your child moved to another classroom.