Preschoolers have their fears. But let’s be honest, moms have even more fears than their kids. One of these is the fear of your child not being able to defend himself from bullying or any form of aggressive behavior. It’s also tough teaching a 3-year-old when to draw the line, what to say and what to do.
While moms hope and pray that this does not happen, it is also best to know how to handle such situations if and when they come. Here’s what you can do.
As a parent, we see ourselves as our child’s number 1 protector or hero. When your child comes home with a bruise or a scratch, or when the teacher informs you of an incident in school, the first thing you need to do is to breathe. Yes! Take 10 deep breaths to calm yourself down and clear your thoughts.
Listen before you speak
Before labeling the other kid a bully, listen first to the story. Ask your child to narrate what happened or even demonstrate. You might find him in tears as he recalls the experience, so be very careful and offer your lap and your hug as you talk. As you listen to your child’s stories, ask questions about what he said, what he felt, and what he did. Find out about the incident, but do not ever forget to ask your child how he perceives it, how it made him feel, or how it affected him. For example, you might ask questions like “Why do you think he hit you?” or “How do you feel now?” or “Are you going to play with <name> again tomorrow?” These questions will help you support your child better and understand how he deals with these things. This is also a good teaching moment for values like forgiveness, kindness, and friendship. For example, if the hitting was unintentional, your child may sense this too and still remain friends with the other child. You can also tell if the situation has caused him some sort of trauma.
Also, talk to the other persons involved, but not the other child’s parent just yet. Ask the teacher, the teacher aid, or other witnesses in order to gather more data and try to piece the story together. You may ask about the other child too because maybe, he’s having a bad day or he just needs a little help handling big emotions. Also, ask for specific action steps that the teacher or the school will take to avoid these or to better manage the situation.
Bring it all together
While parents have biases toward one’s own child (of course), keep your mind open as you piece the puzzle pieces together. Are the stories consistent? Was it intentional behavior? What’s the impact on my child? From there, decide on steps that you need to take to handle this situation or avoid other similar incidents in the future (hope not!). Also, talk to your child to explain what happened and teach him how he can handle such situations in the future like reminding him to call an adult for help or to be firm in saying “No”.
Depending on the gravity of the matter, a meeting with the teacher and the other party might be needed. Note that not all situations call for talking to the other child’s parents. This is why you must carefully look at all angles of the situation. Also ask yourself, what if I was the other child’s parent?
Handling these matters might cause our blood pressure to shoot up to the ceiling. This is why you need to give yourself time and space to breathe. It somewhat feels like the job of a detective or it might even remind you of the critical thinking class you once had in the office. But always remember that each story has many sides and angles, which are all different perspectives of what really happened. When you keep an open mind and a listening ear, you not only deal with such situations with grace but also teach your child through example.