Studies show that children whom are bullied at home are most-likely to demonstrate aggressive dominating behaviors towards others at school. (British Psychological Society, 2009) They normally choose weaker victims to target. Parents of bullies often tend to avoid sharing these behaviors with teachers for fear of being regarded as “the bad parent”. However this creates a larger problem for soon-to-be victims of the abuser. Rather than working with educators to support behavior management they choose to handle (if able to correct them at all) these problems within the home. In many cases, parents are the abusers from which the child is learning modeling the behavior from. “A violent home is a nursery school for abuse. Children who see a parent rage “out of control” do not learn positive ways to express their emotions.” (for more information visit Klamath Crisis Center at http://klamathcrisiscenter.org/childrenofabuse.htm)
If you are a parent of a child being bullied, do not let this behavior persists. Be diligent in your efforts to protect the rights and safety of your child. Request a meeting to discuss a plan of action and locate the root of the problem. After all young children are still learning how to express empathy and identify the feelings and needs of others. Studies have shown that problem-solving skills begin in the earlier stages of development. By equipping children with the necessary tools to defuse conflicts, they will have a greater chance at achieve social-emotional competence.
“The path to world peace may begin in preschool, when children learn how to think their way through interpersonal challenges.” (American Psychology Association, Shure, M.B. & Spivack, G. (1980)
Signs to look for if you suspect that your preschooler is being bullied.
- Is he/she reluctant to go to school in the morning?
– If they are usually happy to attend school then suddenly seem reluctant, sad or apprehensive, then this could be a sign that someone is making them feel unwelcome there.
- Does he/she ever mention playing with any friends throughout the day?
– If they never mention any social interactions amongst their peers, then this could be due to bullying or some form of emotional distress.
- Do you often notice them playing alone at pick-up time?
– Find out what could have happened to spark this sudden change. Often these things are due to conflicts among peers or adults.
- Does the teacher seem un-enthused about seeing them at school each day?
– Sometimes children will bypass social interactions with their peers all together and find comfort in adult relationships instead. This can be problematic for some teachers because the dependent child can become territorial over the teacher when others are requesting attention as well. Work with the teacher to build social bonds with at least one-two other children.
- Are they bullying younger siblings at home?
– “According to researchers in Italy, Children who bully others at school are also more likely to bully their siblings at home.” (see Bullying at School, Home Linked at http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/30/bullying-at-school-home-linked/9849.html)
Parents must work hand and hand with teachers to discourage aggressive behaviors at home as well as social environments.
- Do you often get reports that your child is defensive towards his peers?
– This could be a sign that your child is taking on the behavior as that aggressor in the pursuit of retaliation. Often new teachers become overwhelmed when the classroom as a whole is becoming unrest due to constant disturbances and/or violent episodes. Ask probing questions to find out the source of his/her dismay. Parents can also volunteer as a “room parent” while observing the daily routine.
- Does your child frequently mention not liking a particular child or group of children at school?
– This can be an indication of social rejection or sign of teasing.
- Does he or she draw pictures about violence or sad themes?
– Since young children have limited vocabulary, they may have difficulty expressing their feelings verbally. Through play, children often express their emotions.
- Is there a sudden change in lack of confidence or self-awareness?
– If a child is suffering from verbal or physical abuse, they may regress in physical development or may seek emotional assurance from family members.
- Is your child doing hurtful things to his/her pets?
– Children sometimes can retaliate against their pets after a trying day of torment by peers.