On Bullying at the nursery and playschool

[ 0 ] 21/11/2017 |

My son is 4 years 4 months. Within 1 year and 4 months he has been bullied twice. Or rather he felt attacked, and scared, and my interpretation of the events was ‘being bullied’. But young kids do not think and act in the same way as adults do. A toddler that acts out is not a bully. He or she is struggling with something and at the other end your kid is also struggling with how to react and how to make sense of it all.

Case No. 1

Erik was about 3 1/2 years old and he had started attending a playschool about half a year earlier. For many days, for about a period of one month, he would complain that ‘Mohammad hits me’. They would usually argue about toys and who gets what. My response was ‘Say NO, STOP, and if this doesn’t work talk to your teacher‘. As you can see, my approach did not work, this thing kept going for a while. One day we were discussing about it over dinner, and granddad said ‘He needs to hit back‘. Apparently Erik overheard the conversation cause two days later he told me him and Mohammad are now friends. ‘What happened?’ I asked. ‘I hit him back‘. He didn’t say anything more or anything less.  To this day, Mohammad is his best friend at school. I guess one would say that if we look it down at the level of primal insticts he gained his respect?

Case No.2

New school year, and Erik complains about Niclas who hits him. This time it sounded more serious, as he started refusing going to school. So I talked to his main teacher. She was surprised, as she knew very well both my son and the other boy, and she suggested that the other boy might simply want to play with my son and is acting out as a response to the rejection. They would keep a close eye on them for a week. In the meantime, I told Erik what his teacher thinks, and that he shouldn’t feel afraid, they will be watching both of them. He didn’t comment. But before the week was finished, Erik, Niclas and Mohammad had formed a group and played together. Erik accepted him, and the boy stopped attacking him as he was no longer emotionally hurt.

The reason why I wanted to share this with you is because many will or are facing similar issues, and their minds might drift to more serious interpretations such as domestic violence, thinking that kids copy what they see, or simply get angry with the kid that ‘bullies’ theirs and label him/her as a ‘bad’ one. Kids’ brains are still very immature, they live in the ‘now’, they act and react on whatever they feel or experience in the moment. A negative stimuli, external or internal, may cause a complete meltdown. Picture your little one feeling tired, or hungry. Same thing happens when they try to figure out more complex stuff such as forming relationships, playing with others, learn self-control.  At the same time, I was amazed to see how kids can solve problems so smoothly, and in very simple ways. How a hug, or just standing their ground and hitting back, fixed an escalating situation. It is fascinating how they move forward and forget what bothered them so much, as if it never happened. Sometimes I wonder who learns more through this parenting journey. Them, or us?

Love, as always, Liza.

Category: Erik and me

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