What If Your Child Is The Pre-School Bully?
A two-year-old needs no help in figuring out how to claim what belongs to them. The emphatic, ‘MINE!’, is one of the first things they learn when learning the ins and outs of social interaction. But what happens if their attitude turns into their character; becoming more volatile and socially unacceptable? In other words, what if your child turns into a bully?
Bullying is the act of intimidating, harassing, or mistreating someone. And sadly, bullying isn’t confined to the playground anymore. Bullying is seen in children as young as preschool age
“Oh, it’s not that bad,” you say. “All kids go through phases like that,” you say. “They have to learn how to stand up for themselves,” you say. “They’ll learn how to get along,”
You are right in thinking there isn’t a preschool child on the face of the earth that hasn’t hit someone or yanked a toy out of another child’s hand. Every preschooler has their bossy moments, his/her share of outbursts, meltdowns, and the occasional physical confrontation with their peers. But when that behavior is the norm rather than the exception, there needs to be intentional and consistent intervention. These behavioral patterns must be changed while the child is still moldable and changeable; letting the child know their behavior is unacceptable.
It’s not easy as a parent to see your child as a perpetrator. But don’t let the difficulty, embarrassment, or whatever else you might be feeling keep you from seeing things for what they are. Your child’s future depends on you stepping up to do the right thing for them. So, once you own the truth, the first thing you need to determine is the source or reason for their behavior.
- Has your child been through a traumatic situation such as divorce, abuse (or witnessed spousal abuse), a natural disaster, or the death of a close family member?
- Is there a physical or medical reason for their behavior such as a chemical imbalance or food allergies?
- Is your child experiencing extreme fear or anxiety in social settings?
Once you have determined the reason behind your child’s behavior, the next step is to make changes necessary to eliminate their bullying tactics and turn them into the kind, loving little person they can be.
If your child is the victim of abuse, or if you are the victim of abuse, get help. Remove them from the situation and seek emotional counseling and support for you and your child. If you are the abuser, please seek help and do what is best for your child. No child deserves to be subjected to a lifestyle of abuse and anger.
If you are going through a divorce, you and your ex need to put all issues aside for the sake of your child. Assure your child that the divorce is not their fault and will never change your love for them.
Physiological reasons such as ADHD and chemical imbalances can be rectified by changes in their diet, by increasing the amount of exercise they get each day, or in some cases, medication.
In the event of a serious illness or death of a close family member, you need to keep the lines of communication open. They may be acting out of fear; pushing others away to protect their heart from being hurt by another potential loss. Listen with your eyes and ears and respond to their needs.
Is your home an aggressive home? Is the atmosphere angry? Stressful? Step back, take an honest assessment of what is happening and strive to resolve the situation.
Once you have addressed the reasons behind the behavior, you need to talk to your child. You need to let him/her know that their actions are not acceptable and will not be tolerated under any circumstance. But make sure their behavior doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Let them know that it is because you love them that you want to help them.
The next step is to establish behavior boundaries and the consequences of reacting outside of them (being a bully). Oh, and you cannot even entertain the thought of not following through on said consequences. NOTE: When setting the consequences of your child’s bullying, you need to gear them toward making positive corrections for the cause of the misbehavior. For instance…spanking or other forms of physical punishment are counter-productive when you are trying to change a child’s view of aggression. Requiring them to do something kind in retribution is more productive. This is something we work on regularly in my karate classes for kids.
You also need to work closely with your child’s preschool teacher and the parents in your playgroup. Let them know that you are working to correct your child’s behavior and what they can do to help.
Finally, don’t give up on your child. A preschool bully does have to become a teenage juvenile delinquent. With perseverance, patience, and unconditional love you can change their attitude and actions from those of a bully to a loving, caring, and thoughtful child.