Steps to take to prevent your child being upset by other children or an adult in the pre-school
Find out how your child is feeling
It is essential that you know that your child is being teased or bullied as soon as possible so chat with him frequently; without making him feel pressurised. Talk gently to discover how he is enjoying pre-school. Make sure you understand his daily activities and relationships. Keep up with the names of the pre-school adults that he meets and the children that he works and plays with so that you can follow up his comments with replies of your own. Keep an eye on how he seems to be coping, look out for any signs of anxiety or worry. A young child may not be able to even understand exactly why he feels worried about what he is experiencing at pre-school and will need gentle coaxing at home when he is feeling relaxed to talk about his feelings.
Some parents have taken the view even with very young children that the child should stand up for himself against the bullies, even to the extent of hitting them. This is not good advice to pass on to a child as the situation could escalate and a violent incident take place in which the original victim also suffers. It is always best to contact the pre-school if you suspect bullying so that proper and effective action can be taken.
Changes in your child's behaviour
Sometimes this talking may not happen and you find that worries are shown through changes in his fluency and/or behaviour. He may struggle more with his speech and be obviously losing confidence. He may be irritable and bad tempered, destructive with his toys, toileting habits may change or he may go off his food, or simply be difficult generally. All this can be caused by the anxiety he is feeling and you must spend time to find out what is its cause. Even though it may appear trivial to you it may be frightening for your young child.
Talk to your child's key worker
As soon as you are concerned talk to your child's key worker, do not decide to wait and see whether your child settles down again. Try to be specific about other children and/or staff involved. If it is the key worker herself who seems to have upset your child it is still important to talk with her in a calm manner and hopefully the matter will be put right at this early stage.
This helpful chat at the pre-school may quickly resolve the situation especially if he feels bullied by other children as they can respond very quickly to advice from the pre-school staff. Worrying situations can be nipped in the bud. You can then be reassured that staff are looking out for any more difficulties and know to contact you immediately if they arise.
The Government has laid down very clear guidelines for the management of teasing and bullying in pre-schools, and every setting should have a bullying policy that is based on those guidelines. This policy is available to you on request, and in many settings you may find it displayed for everyone to see and understand. If you discover that a setting has not devised a policy, this is very out of line with government expectations, and is a bad sign. Ideally, the policy should mention that everyone in the pre-school should 'tell' on the bullies and that bullying includes every type of verbal and physical harassment.
It is when you feel that your child is still being teased or bullied even though you have spoken with staff that your approach should be based on this policy. Do not feel that you are being awkward as all pre-school settings are expected to respond effectively to these concerns. Hopefully you will still be able to resolve the issue by talking with staff within the setting.
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