For kids of many different ages and backgrounds, bullying can be a major concern within a child care or school program. Social pressures and group mentalities can combine to form a pretty ugly product in some cases, and children who are different or don’t quite fit into certain groups may find daily life very difficult or even unbearable. In many cases, these struggles will be all-consuming and can affect both learning and other areas of life.
Bullying isn’t tolerated at Smart Kids Development Center, and while we take significant measures to prevent it where possible, we know that the social settings involved with our preschool and day care programs might make some of it impossible to eliminate completely. This is why we also ask for help from parents, both with identifying and limiting bullying.
As a parent, you can do several things to help prevent bullying.
The toughest part of dealing with bullying is often identifying it in the first place. Kids naturally will resist telling a parent about bullying, whether they’re on the giving or receiving end. In many cases, they may think that what they’re going through isn’t actually bullying, and that it’s simply normal for kids their age.
Most children will offer telltale signs that something is wrong, however, and then it’s up to you to get to the bottom of it. Behaviors or appetites might change, or your child may begin having trouble sleeping or waking up for school in the morning. They may seem more moody or angry than normal, and may not enjoy the activities they usually do.
If you’re still having trouble getting through once you identify that something is wrong, and suspect it may be bullying, try a more roundabout way to bring things up. Use a book or TV show as an example, and ask them what they think about certain situations. Most of all, if your children are reluctant to open up, it’s your job to let them know that they’re doing the right thing and you’re here to help them.
Once you’ve gotten the truth out of them, it’s vital to respond in the right way. Some parents might be tempted to view certain issues as minor and brush kids off, or tell them to “tough it out” – this is the wrong approach. If it’s a big enough deal to your child that they’ll tell you about it, you should treat it as something important even if you don’t personally think it should be.
For others, it’s important to remember to be calm and supportive. A big part of the reason kids often won’t open up about bullying is fear of embarrassment, and they need to know they’re in a safe place talking to you. Praise them for bringing the issue to you, and make sure you reinforce the theme that it’s the bully who is doing the wrong thing – not them.
Finally, you’ll need to pass what you’ve been told on the proper authorities. This can be a tough process: You don’t want to sell your kids out and make things worse, and you want to make sure teachers and other staff understand the problem without exacerbating it. At Smart Kids, all our staff are expertly trained in understanding and managing bullying situations.
As a parent, you can help your child with a few strategies to combat bullying on their own. Tell them to avoid the bully, or use a buddy system where possible. Make sure they know that fighting back isn’t the proper response, ever.
Strategies like acting brave, walking away and holding in anger can all work for many kids as well. In addition, you as a parent might be the only person with enough influence on your child to convince them to tell a teacher or other adult when bullying is happening.
For more information on our bullying policies or any other part of our child care program, contact us at Smart Kids Development Center today.