Posted: Jan 20, 2013 10:00 PM
 
Preschool can be a wonderful experience for toddlers, filled with playground time, precious little art projects and a new sense of independence as they master skills and meet new friends. Unfortunately, preschool can also be your little one’s first exposure to bullying.
67 percent of parents nationwide are worried about their 3- to 7-year-olds being bullied.

Bullying and relational aggression begins as early as preschool, and parents are taking notice. According to the New York Times, The Playground Gets Even Tougher, 67 percent of parents nationwide are worried about their 3- to 7-year-olds being bullied. Whether your child has been the victim of bullying, or they've exhibited bullying behavior, you can do something about it!

Build social skills to bully-proof your child

It's easy to get wrapped up in academic achievements when your kids become school-aged, but it's the social skills they learn in preschool that are critical to preventing bullying. According to Stopbullying.gov, children need to develop three types of social skills to build and maintain friendships and avoid becoming involved in bullying: 

  • Social problem-solving skills: Examples include teaching your children how to understand, label and deal with their feelings and working with them on impulse control.
  • Empathy skills: Encouraging your child to think about how someone who's been bullied might feel, or reminding them of how they felt in a similar situation.
  • Assertiveness skills: Teaching your kids to be self confident and clear in their boundaries when dealing with bullies.

Keep lines of communication open

When it comes to dealing with the fallout from bullying, think before you act. It's tempting to let anger or hurt feelings take over, but how you choose react — with your child, the other child involved, the other parents or school educators — can have lasting implications.

  • Communicate with your child: When you discuss an instance of bullying with your child, calmly listen, avoid being judgmental and assure them that you're there to help. If your child has a hard time opening up, try using books or videos to help spark the dialogue.
  • Speak with educators and administrators: If your child is the one who's exhibiting the bully behavior, work closely with educators to see if you can identify any underlying causes. For example, is your child easily frustrated and hasn't yet developed impulse control? Or, maybe there are other triggers that you and the teacher can work to identify and monitor.
  • Engage the other parents: Sit down with the teacher and the parents of the other child so you can work toward what's happening and how each set of parents can help. Remember to keep an open mind, since there are always two sides to a story, and avoid being confrontational.
  • Help your child develop friendships: Find a child in class that your child is friendly with and create after-school playdates, or get your child involved in off-campus activities where they have opportunities to build more friendships — and self confidence — outside of the classroom.

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