Friday, August 17, 2012

Bullying Starts Young

G is at the end of his 2nd week of preschool.  Drop off and pick ups have gone smoother and I think he is really liking it.  Well, maybe "was" really liking it is more like it.  This week, I saw my first introduction of preschool bullying.  The target:  my son.  One afternoon I was picking him up and he was wound up running around playing with a ball.  He was throwing this ball all over the little indoor area where they have the kids waiting when it's pick up time.  I kept telling him to throw it softer and to wait until people were ready to catch it before throwing it to them.  You know, the usual simple rules of playing with balls that you teach preschoolers.  Well, these 2 little kids wanted that ball and they ganged up on G, ignoring the fact I was right there.  One kid went right up to him and stood shoulder to shoulder facing him and shoved him with both hands.  G fell down.  G kind of laughed thinking maybe they were playing.  That kid turned and looked at me and glared.  What?!  Excuse me?! I gave him the stink eye (I give a really good stink eye, just ask my husband) and stared him down.  Immediately after this, kid #2 goes and starts kicking him!  In the legs. In the back.  Kicking at him after he falls down.  G quickly gets up and runs after the ball.  The teacher comes over and tells this kid not to kick.   However, it was kind of passive so it didn't get the kid's attention at all.   I left that day feeling really bad for G.  Is he the "new" kid that is picked on?  Do they hate him?  Is there anything more being done to show these kids how to treat each other?
The next day, I had a talk with the teacher mentioning I saw all of this and wanted to make sure he was playing well with others.  After our conversation I felt better.  She knew it was a concern of mine and that was my point.
Well, this morning we go to walk into his class and he stops cold at the door.  Doesn't take a step in.  Instead, starts stepping backwards.  I have to coerce him inside.  I stay for a little bit so he can warm up.  We walk over to a table to sit and talk.  He's very clammed up and stressed.  That is kind of normal for drop off times so I just give him time to adjust.  A few minutes later, he goes over to where a kid (kid #3) is playing with Mr. Potato Head and tries to join in playing with that and picks up some pieces of this nearby.   Kid #3 freaks out and instantly pushes him so hard that G falls to the ground.  I say "Whoa" really loudly so the kid knows his reaction caught my attention.  I look down at G and he's sitting there on the ground wide-eyed staring up at me.  Shocked.  Bewildered.  Confusion written across his face.   The worst part?  He doesn't get up.  He just stays there, staring at me with sadness building up.  I help him up and try to roll with this the best I can.  If the roles had been reversed and G had done that with me right there, I would have firmly told him that was wrong and mean and we do not treat people this way.  But, this wasn't my kid and the teacher was with another kid at that moment.  So, I tell G to try asking if he can play with him.  At this point, G is broken.  He just looks down at his shoes.  I hate this.  I wanted to just turn around with him and leave this classroom.  I mean, this is what I see when I'm there for 5 minutes.  What else is going on over there?  Why are these kids so freakin' mean?  I know, I know...these are 2-3 years, all adjusting to a new environment.  Some haven't been in any other situations than home.  At daycare, G was the one that had a hitting problem.   It drove me crazy that he would react with hitting when he was frustrated!  Usually, it was over sharing a toy. Sharing is about the hardest concept ever for a 2/3 yr old.  However, I can guarantee you we didn't put up with it and worked really hard at correcting this behavior. He also had an amazing caretaker that worked with us on this and vice versa.  We finally conquered the hitting phase and had left that behind, however I have a feeling we may re enter this again with how he is being treated by other kids.  It just seems like these kids are pretty harsh, pretty quickly.
I can't seem to shake what I saw this morning.  How can kids this young re act this way already?  I suppose bullying starts in the home.  It starts with parents speaking up about it and teaching their kids what is wrong and what is right.  It starts with teaching kids respect.  Kids at that age have a natural reaction to get angry and frustrated quickly and do not have a lot of other ways to show that besides being physical.  I need to toughen up more and show him how to toughen up more.'s a bit much the first 2 weeks in.  It kills me to see him picked on.  I want to protect him. I want him to protect himself.  I want him to stand up for his friends.  Kindness and respect are so important to us to teach G.  I'm already looking forward to his 2nd preschool he'll attend.  It's a Montessori school and that form of education is very big on respect.  As for this situation...I'm going to focus on showing G how to react and how to treat his classmates, regardless of how he is treated.  I also found these books online that I'm buying so we can read them together.  Still, this morning...I just can't shake the look G gave me when he was pushed down.  It breaks my heart.

by Bob Somson & Maria Dismondy.  Available at Amazon

by Sandy Ragona, Amy Tranel.  Available at: Amazon


  1. What a bummer Casey. It's sad to hear that it starts so young. I know I have definitely seen kids act this way even in front of their parents, and they don't even correct them. It is frustrating that people don't realize how important it is to work on these bad habits as soon as you see it. I sometimes think people forget that these are just little people that need some guidance til they figure it out. Don't just treat your child like they are sweet and innocent in everything they do, correction allows them to learn from their mistakes and become better individuals. Sounds like you guys are doing a great job with G! That is truly incredible. He is so blessed to have you guys be his mentors in life!

  2. So sorry Casey.. If you ever want to talk let me know! Xoxo


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