You expect a lot out of preschool. It teaches your child to prepare for the upcoming year in kindergarten, it teaches your child to make new friends, to follow instructions and to work in a group setting. You do not expect your 4-year-old daughter to get in the car after a day at school and say, “Mommy, I wanted to give you a flower today but Breann (not her real name) took it from me and wouldn’t give it back. I don’t like Breann. She always takes my stuff and she grabs me and she scratched my face.”
Make room for my heart on the floor. Here is my tiny, sweet, empathetic, kind, loving, intelligent, friendly little girl telling me that she has a bully…in preschool. My heart is broken. My husband and I have talked to our daughter about bullies. We’ve informed her that kindness is always the right choice, that it’s not nice to be mean to other kids and that it’s not okay to accept other children being mean to her. We don’t want to raise a bully, but we also don’t want to raise a victim. I have a conference with her school’s director – also her teacher – first thing Monday morning and I expect that this situation will be resolved shortly as there is a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior.
However, my husband and I are now left with the question: What do we do now? We have to talk to our daughter, but what do we say?
It’s Okay to Say No
The first thing we want our daughter to know is that she has the right to tell a bully “no.” She has the right to protect herself and her feelings by telling her bully she will not allow this behavior to go on (though preschool seems a bit young for this type of behavior). She does not have the right to physically assault another child, but she has the right to verbally protect herself by standing up for herself.
You Don’t Have to Be Afraid
What hurts me almost more than anything is that my daughter is afraid, and it’s not of heights or monsters under her bed or not getting a cookie because she doesn’t eat her dinner quickly enough. She’s afraid of another person, and no one should ever have to feel afraid of someone else. She doesn’t have to feel afraid, because she has teachers, friends and family to whom she can come to when she has a problem.
You Are Not the Problem
If I want my daughter to know one thing, it’s that she is not the problem. Her bully isn’t targeting her because she did something wrong or she is something wrong. Her bully is just that; a bully. She’s probably insecure. I don’t know what her home life looks like and it isn’t my place to speculate, but something about this kid makes her mean to other children and that’s not their fault. Experts believe that this type of behavior is often learned behavior, but again, I don’t want to go into this situation assuming that her parents are also bullies.
Bullying is never okay, in any situation. If you are a bully or if you know someone who is being bullied or is a bully, find help.