Preschool bullying?

My daughter is almost three and goes to a local preschool where there are about 8 in the class on any given day. I’ve been noticing that a couple of the girls aren’t very nice toward her, they start chanting “No Mia” when they see her and one of them at least I’ve seen swat at other kids and generally be unkind. Lately my daughter has been saying things to me like “I don’t want to go to school” and “I’m scared of my friends” and even saying I’m scared of of of those two girls. She’s very sweet and sensitive, and while we’re working with her to hold her ground, I’m worried this is bullying. Does it really start so young? I’ve discussed with her teachers who are aware and they’ve talked to the principle and relevant parents, and they are monitoring their best. But I can’t help but feel worried and helpless. What am I not seeing while not there? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • Angela
    May 02

    I also agree with Alice. Well said Alice. I am also an Early Chilhood Educator to 2 - 5 yr old. Social and Emotional brain development is at its peak between 3 and 6 yrs old. As Alice pointed out, helping Mia find her voice and redirecting the chanting into a positive song, is a very positive way for the teacher to "teach". I also think that you should do this the next time you take her to class. Make it a positive thing. And You should most certainly observe for a day. When you observe try to see if the children really are trying to engage in the only way they know how. How long has your daughter been attending? How long have the children in question been attending? Were they all friends before? Does the teachers have degrees? And last but not least; Please remember that all children at this age, their brains are very very immature. They do not have the capacity to change without proper engagement. This engagement comes from environmental influences. Children this young are only as "bullying" as what they have learned from all of their environments that they live in, i.e. preschool, home, TV, grocery store, park, relatives ....... Talking to your Mia about ways to engage would be wonderful for her. I'm assuming she is more of a shy child according to your description. Are you more of a reserved individual? I would recommend taking her to a park. If you see children playing close to her age. Start playing with tour daughter. Act excited and exuberant about playing on the slide, skip up the ramps, act silly. You are trying to get your daughter to let her sillies out. And you are trying to engage other children at the park. Once you see that you have another child's attention, bring it to Mia's attention. Say, hey Mia, I see that child looking at us being silly. I want to play with her. Let's go ask if she wants to play. Mia may hold back and shake her head no. Or she may be receptive to another child entering her playtime. You are trying to model or give Mia tools on how to see the interest of other children and how to engage other children. Best of luck.

  • Anthony
    May 02

    I'm with Sara. Where is the school in this? If you're finding it difficult to talk to the parents directly, then the school definitely should be the one's intervening and intervening immediately

  • Eli
    May 02

    How I would respond: 1) Immediately remove my child from that daycare and find a new place for her, in the meantime I would stay home (on sick leave or vacation) and/or hire a nanny. The emotional damage this is doing to your child is irreversible. Additionally, if you have seen this behavior in the short time you are there, imagine how much and how bad it is when you are not there - this means your care providers are NOT doing their job - it is their job to correct negative behaviors such as this. Your child is too young to do this on her own. 2) I would talk with the girls (bullies) to find out who abuses them in their home life. This age is about mirroring, which means they are receiving this bullying at home or some other location. Based on the girls' responses, follow-up with child protective services - they could be at serious risk. 3) A personal story: When I was 5 years old another girl ("my friend") at school told me I was fat, ugly, and should die. I told my mom these things, that I needed to die because I was ugly, I was 5!!! I have had issues with these things (including suicidal thoughts) all my life because of this. And guess what, when my mom looked into this she found out that this girl's father verbally abused her and her mom daily. Get your precious child out of there.

  • anonymous mom
    May 02

    I hear what the teachers on here are saying, but it sounds like this child’s teacher is somehow not aware or not working to correct this behavior. Talking to parents may help but maybe not. A lot of parents are immediately defensive and it sounds like these children are not being taught “the right way” to be. I would try to work with the center director to have the troublesome kids removed or somehow monitored. It would really upset me if my daughter was dealing with this and the teachers did nothing. My daughter is in daycare and it’s a center through my work. I know all the parents of the children at her school, or if I don’t know them I can figure it out really quickly. Even so, I’d be a little wary of reaching out to one of them directly about their kids being mean to mine. So in this case I’d try to keep it professional and give the director one or two days to come up with a solution.

  • Joanna
    May 02

    As an educator my opinion is that it is not bullying at this age. They are still learning right from wrong and testing limits. My son gets pushed/ hit at daycare as do others quite often. It is often a sign that the aggressor needs something they aren’t getting or something is going on. I would talk to the teacher and find out how she/ he handles it when they see something happen.

  • Shiya
    May 02

    My son is 5 and is also having some issues in his Pre-K class, specifically with two boys that he says are very rough and make him feel really left out. I’ve spoken to the teachers and everyone is very aware of the situation. I LOVE his school and his teachers and know they are doing their absolute best to keep him safe and happy. I keep reminding my son the importance of being kind and that there’s only 5 more weeks of school and he will be in a new school next year with all new kids. I desperately want to shield him from this but also know it’s more important to help him develop the skills to step away, play with other kids (which is hard when there’s only 10 kids in the class) and to always be kind to his friends.

  • Ayna
    May 02

    I don't know if a 2 year old is capable to understand that bullying isn't ok and that being mean isn't ok. This goes more toward how the other kids are raised, so I would go straight to the parents. Be strict and harsh with them, tell them you won't put up with that kind of thing. Bullying is usually raised at home, the environment the child is in effects it all considering a 2 year old is like a sponge repeating everything everyone does.

  • Melek
    May 02

    Oh, this is so awful! Your daughter is only 2, and she is experiencing bullying. I am so sorry for her... It is so sad, the more I hear like this issues, the more I am losing my hope in humanity! The only thing I am worried for my 3 years old son is bullying problem.

  • Lee
    May 02

    I too was a preschool teacher for 30 years I agree with everything that Alice has said. Also ,you need to teach your child whenever anyone does anything to her that she does not like she needs to say right then and there stop it I don’t like that! !!!! If the teachers in the classroom Are not going to extremes to teach good behaviors during circle time meal time and different communication times .Because don’t forget if you take your child out of the school it’s bound to happen at the next place and the next place and the next place because children do what they learn and see so if that’s what they’re saying that’s What they are learning or seeing, whether at home or at school. I would really hold the teachers in the school responsible and really have a good conversation with them AND the director AND the social worker to let them truly truly know how You and your daughter feel.I also didn’t get it this was a school or home preschool if it’s a Home preschool I would take my child out

  • Alice
    May 02

    We forget as adults because of how we view the world but yes these little minds are ripe for teaching and learning and parents will always take a defensive stance when they don’t understand social emotional development and how it looks and feels for a child of this age. Yes 100% make sure the teachers whom are working with kiddos at this age are fully educated and have degrees. Teacher collaboration and trainings to help “teach” rather then a play based babysitting program. Truly educators should be sharing what we know about social emotional development and encouraging parents to learn as well. I LOVE this time of life because we can really help empower little people and families to come together in the growth of our children and community. But when we go direct to parents of parents the finger pointing, labels and miscommunications easily take hold! Again ...super important to find a really great school with amazing and well educated teachers. It makes ALL the difference in the world! And remember a child of 2 doesn’t know what a “Bully” is. Even a child of 2 might not understand they are “sad” or “scared” we have to be careful not to label our children or tell them how they are feeling because we as adults interpret it this way.

  • Alice
    May 02

    One is my favorite educators out there is Tom Drummond: https://tomdrummond.com/leading-and-caring-for-children/ enterprise talk is a fantastic tool!

  • Alice
    May 02

    And his conflict resolution is spot on. Check out the video links. This is the kind of dialogue and guidance your teachers should be implementing https://tomdrummond.com/leading-and-caring-for-children/leadership-care/negotiation/

  • Katie
    May 02

    I don’t let anybody bully my son. I don’t care if it’s another kid, older or younger, or an adult. I will tell a bully to back off/back up and that what they did or said was not very nice LOUDLY and STERNLY. As someone who was bullied relentlessly as a kid I know how it feels to be humiliated and alone. I do not want him to ever feel that way and I want to set an example that it’s ok to stick up for himself no matter who is being mean him.

  • Alice
    May 02

    The children in the video link above arguing about the bikes even get into a physical dispute..they are a little older but teachers should mediate and be the voice to help the children unlock their own ways of problem solving and seeing what their behaviors are doing to their friends...we are there to step in and say “I can see you are frustrated BUT it’s not ok to hit” “I know you REALLY want to ride the bike but also look at your friends, do you think they also feel this way?” It’s about training empathy and problem solving into them. It starts young...age two they are just learning to “share” and interact together. They are also learning to engage with one another and it often comes across looking like bullying ..anyways I went on a bit of a rant here because early childhood education is a passion of mine and I hope the links I’ve posted above shed some good insights :)

  • Alice
    May 02

    Katie id like to say I’m sorry for your experience as a child whom was bullied and felt humiliated..that is NEVER ok and should never be overlooked. However if I could speak to child katie I’d tell her she has the power to stand up for herself, she has a voice and also an opportunity to show those “mean” children a different way. “Bullies” are often even more hurt and misunderstood...they need as much time and understanding and as much guidance in making better decisions. Children are NEVER innately “bad” or “mean” they are often acting out incorrectly their own hurt confusion or frustrations or even just what they see at home... but they need to understand how this impacts those around them...they have got to have a great teacher to help them learn these things. Well educated teachers see all children as amazing little people of different personality types and we guide and give voice to all...weather we have to interject and prevent physical or emotional attacks and help that child learn to calmly deal with feelings...out bursts or impulse control....or opposite end of the spectrum stand up and speak your truth “that hurt my feelings, I am not ok with this” ”this is how I feel” building self confidence and a voice ...whatever it may be, we are here to turn these little people into the best versions of themselves and show them how to interact, problem solve and communicate appropriately with the world and those around them now, and later as future adults

  • Candy
    May 02

    Your story reminds me so much of my daughter. At 2, it actually got so bad for her that I changed schools. I kept asking my pediatrician what to do since she was having night terrors and finally after about 2 years, I was recommended to see a counselor. I ended up taking her to see a counselor and it turns out that because of the incidents that happened when she was 2 she actually has anxiety. I couldn't believe that my 4 year old had such extreme anxiety. I only decided to go to see what advise they could give me, my only goal was to get her to speak up for herself. It also doesn't help that she is classified as being hyper-sensitive. Which is good because she feels more, which helps her to have empathy for others, but not so great because she can get her feelings hurt easily. After a few weeks of seeing the counselor I had already seen a difference, she was speaking up for herself more. She no longer is terrified to go to school and she has learned coping mechanisms for her anxiety. Probably the best thing I ever did, it not only helped her, but it also helped me to better understand her and also help her when she is having issues. I hope in sharing it might help

  • Vonda
    May 02

    I think you’ve done great so far. If you do talk to the parents make sure the teacher or principal is there as well. Just to make sure emotions don’t run high. Which can easily since it’s about small kids. Definitely teach your daughter that whatever they do; she is strong and better then them. Not to be mean back. There is no positive point in stooping to their level.

  • Ivana
    May 05

    Wow, thank you everyone for your advice and for sharing your stories! I’ve wrapped up the week by speaking with both classroom teachers and the principal. We’ve come up with a game plan that includes twice daily discussions with the teachers and a weekly check in with the principal (i had a long meeting with her and referenced specific situations). I know they’ve reached out to parents, as well. The principal did say that they’re not capable of being bullies that young, which I’m not sure I agree with - daily squabbles are a part of toddlerhood and in every daycare setting. Something targeted and frequent towards one person feels like bullying. I’ll be gauging how things go and considering other options (other daycares) as a backup. It’s a very small school, so there’s no option to switch classrooms (and sitting in and observing wouldn’t be possible without totally disputing the class). I’ve been told that for the most part she’s very happy during the school day, but hoping we can get to a smoother drop off (less apprehension) and her looking forward to going to school.