When we think of bullies we tend to think of bigger kids picking on littler kids, older kids taking milk money from younger kids – all when our children are a little older. But bullies in day care?
Sadly, it’s never too young to start dealing with them. Bullying – no matter what age – is NOT just kids being kids and as soon as everyone gets that out of their mindset, we can be on the way to helping the problem disappear.
Children become bullies for different reasons – maybe they are acting out behavior that they’ve seen somewhere before, maybe they are doing it for attention from adults or the other children. In extreme cases, children may bully because they enjoy seeing others in pain, fearful, miserable or even injured. If bullying gets to this point, it can be very difficult to stop.
Regardless of the underlying cause a child bullies another child, as parents we need to teach our children how to deal with it if they become a victim of a bully.
- First, you’ll need to find out just what is going on. If you suspect your child is being bullied, you can ask questions like “Has someone hurt you?” Even at a young age, children are able to tell you something that happened that made them feel bad or hurt. Let your child explain what happened – let them talk until they are finished – and no matter how upset you are, keep your emotions under control so that you can reassure your child that they have done nothing wrong and you will help take care of this.
- Once you know what is going on, you’ll want to figure out how to help your child respond if it happens again. You can play out different scenarios to help your child find the best way to deal with the situation if an adult happens to not be close by – ignore the bully, stick with friends (think safety in numbers), act brave and finally tell an adult.
- As the parent – you will need to take action. Talk to the daycare director, teachers and/or caregivers who are in contact with your child and the bully. There is a very good chance that they may not be aware of the situation because your child has been afraid to say anything. Many times talking to those in charge will help stop the harassment. But if it doesn’t, keep working at it with those in charge until it does.
It’s difficult to fight our protective impulses when our child tells us he or she is being bullied, but fight it we must. Let you child know that you are there for them and the lines of communication are open and that you are there for them to make the situation right.