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 all of the involved adults agree on that, the sooner they can work as a team to resolve it.
Children become bullies for different reasons – sometimes they are acting out a behavior that they’ve seen somewhere, sometimes they are doing it for attention from adults or from 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, it’s important for parents to teach their children what to do if they become victims of a bully.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, ask questions like “Has someone hurt you?” Even at a young age, most children are able to tell you something that happened that made them feel bad or hurt. Let your child explain what happened, allowing 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 that you will help him or her to fix this.
Once you feel confident that you know what is going on, you’ll want to help your child learn how to respond to it if it happens again. You can play out different scenarios to help your child find the best way to deal with the situation. Some solutions include finding a trusted adult, ignoring the bully, sticking with friends, or walking away.
As the parent, you will need to take action. Talk to the daycare director, your child’s 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 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. Continue to talk to your child to understand what is happening and how they are dealing with it and provide feedback from your discussions with their teachers and/or caregivers if you feel it is appropriate. It’s important for your child to know that you are on their side and working to help them resolve this very unfortunate childhood issue.