preschool bonding and bullies?

mamaneen's picture

hey, mamas, i'm hoping for some feedback and insight from ya'll on this stuff. it's more than one topic, but they're related.

dd has developed a very close friendship with another student at her preschool which is groovy. they have persuaded their respective parents to make time for them to play together more than the five days a week they already see each other, and that's groovy, too. however, the preschool discourages the formation of "cliques" which i understand, but this has meant that they have on occasion separated my kid and her friend because they wanted to play alone together instead of joining with other kids in play. thoughts on this?

on a related note, there are a few other kids that dd talks about daily. one of them almost always come up in the context of hitting or otherwise physically hurting my kid or saying mean things {preschool level - "i don't want to be your friend" and the like} to my kid. we always check in with her about follow-up. yes, she tells the teacher, and yes, the perpetrating kid sits by the teacher for a time as a "corrective" measure.

i have talked to the teachers about the recurrences. they describe this child as tending to be a bully. however, they also report that she and dd play well together for the most part. dd now has the word bully and uses it to describe this child.

i don't want her to feel trapped in a bullying cycle, but i'm not sure a} whether that's how she perceives it given that they do play okay together sometimes {the times i have been able to hang out at the school, she has been mostly focused on her friend, but has interacted both positively and negatively with this other child} and b} what else to do.

the "bully" child's custodial grandparents absolutely dote on her, so i don't think they'd be receptive to a conversation about her behavior, but is perhaps the next step, however futile it may prove. relocating dd seems extreme given her attachment to her close friend, some of her teachers, and the preschool in general. still, it's a small school, so if she remains, she won't be able to avoid the "bully". thoughts, please?

Comments

lana's picture
Submitted by lana on

Ugg. Managing the social lives of preschoolers is so difficult. :)

Issue #1: It would be one thing if your daughter and her friend were playing together and excluding other children, but if they have just become close and want to hang out a lot, I don't understand the problem! If it were me I would say something like that to her teacher - i.e. If my child and her friend are not letting other children join them and it's upsetting the other children, then I think it is appropriate to bring them back into the group. Otherwise, WTF?

Issue #2: Tricky. I have a somewhat similar situation at my daughter's preschool except that she is totally in love with the kid, who to complicate matters further is the teacher's daughter. To me the offending child sounds less like a bully and more of just a pain in the ass. Which you will find everywhere. Although now that your child has learned the word "bully" and what it means, the situation could perhaps become a self-fulfilling prophecy (like kid A bugs kid B, kid B says, "stop being a bully!" kid A decides to be the bully and situation escalates). I think it would be hasty to pull your child from a daycare that she is generally happy in and you are generally happy with because of another child. Chances are, her new preschool would have a kid like that too. They are everywhere. It sounds like the teachers are aware of the problem and are dealing with it, and that your daughter is also handling it well and is not being totally traumatized by it. While I think that we need to protect our children and teach them to protect themselves from bullies, I also think that sometimes we need to just take a step back and let them be.

Lana

hollygolightly's picture

Ah, it begins. So sorry mama. I used to teach preschool so I will try to give both perspectives as a teacher and as a mama here.
Issue #1: first, it is a great sign that dd has attached herself and felt comfortable enough in this environment to make such a good friend. It takes many kids years to do this. I think it is totally normal and healthy for kids to have best friends as it provides them comfort while in school. If dd and her friend are playing with each other without excluding other kids, I don't see the problem. I can understand the teachers' concerns, but feel they are being a little pre-emptive on this issue. Maybe try to encourage more playdates, where they have the time to play one on one outside school.
Issue #2: This is a tricky one. Not that this is news, but kids usually become bullies because they lack stability, a sense of control, and generally have low self estemm. Bullying other kids makes them feel better and provides a sense of belonging, in some sense. I don't know this child from anywhere, but there are probably some pretty underlying issues there. And, if you feel the grandparents are not going to be receptive, follow your gut and move on to the teachers. I do feel, though, that labeling a child so young as a bully is a bad thing. If they are constantly called that, justified or unjustified, they fulfill that label because it provides them with a sense of acceptance, although it may be hard for us to understand as adults. They have their place in the group as the bully and the longer they are called that, the worse it will become. I'm not sure the extent of the bullying but if this child is physically hurting dd, I would talk to the teachers about it. They have the responsibility to speak to the caregivers about it, especially if this child is hurting others. If I was in your shoes, I would ask to schedule a meeting with the teachers after school without children around, so you have their full attention. Express your concerns about the friendship issue and the bullying issue and tell them you feel uncomfortable speaking with the caregivers, as you will appear bias. Just be honest and tell them exactly what you posted here.
I think taking dd out of this environment would be a bad thing. She is obviously comfortable enough to talk with the teachers about "the bully" and secure enough to forge a friendship with another child. I wish you luck and keep us posted.
"Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of the sunbeams."~Helen Keller

mamaneen's picture
Submitted by mamaneen on

i get what you're both saying about the potential dangers of the word "bully", but it also seems good to me that dd has some language that clarifies the ownership of the behavior - in that she's not being spoken meanly to/hit because she's bad/wrong, but because that's what bullies do, and it is not acceptable behavior. i have spoken to several of the teachers at different points {this has been an ongoing issue for some months}, and i'm contemplating talking to the director. that's likely to be equally fruitless, though, because she has, um, no management skills i can discern based on having spoken with her twice before about other issues. maybe i should ask the head teacher to arrange a meeting with the grandparents and us? i dunno. i'm just afraid of sending dd a message of fruitless passivity in the face of bad treatment, kwim?

{i feel compelled to add that this has been dd's only daycare/preschool, and she's been attending since she was one - which is to say, i haven't been a nagging parent, though i'm not entirely sure that choosing to forbear has been the best tack to take given the recent rise in movietime afternoons that include movies i did NOT want dd to see and thought i'd've been asked about first, but i digress . . .}

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

mamaneen's picture
Submitted by mamaneen on

like "bambi" and "the lion king" were the most distressing to me to hear about dd having watched at preschool, though she seemed totally unflapped by them, and a close second were the disney princess bombardments, though they did at least finally include a brown princess {"alladin" - rife with problems of its own in addition to the sexism}.

one of the things i love about this facility is the green, secluded, and ample outdoor playspace, but i've come to realize that no matter how often i equip dd with rainboots and rain slicker, she is probably not going outside much at all during the rainy season while at preschool which sucks, though i understand the teachers' reluctance. so, for roughly a quarter of the year, they do way more dvd viewing than i'm really happy about, though i was much less unhappy when it was at least ostensibly educational and interactive shows instead of disney mania.

plus, i think the days spent indoors tend to contribute to "bullying" behavior - cabin fever and all.

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

hollygolightly's picture

Can I put my two cents in here? I really think that showing movies regularly in preschool is ridiculous. Kids are there to be social, play, and learn from each other, not tv. They should have an equal balance of free play, structured play, and quiet time. IMO, movies are not quiet time. In most cases, they wire kids and from my professional opinion, they are a cop out for these teachers. I don't want to sound brash, but if this was happening coupled with the other stuff, I'd start looking around for new places, mama. And in regards to the nagging parent, I hate that term. You should nag a little bit, you are her mama! I always hated when other parents and my coworkers labeled people as that. Yes, some cases are justified, but nag all you want. Good luck. "Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of the sunbeams."~Helen Keller

mamaneen's picture
Submitted by mamaneen on

i've been down with a very mean flu all week, and i'm still at home per the doc, so i haven't been online much and am still not up to posting much, but i wanted to thank ya'll for your thoughts on this query.

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

denessasma's picture
Submitted by denessasma on

first i think it's wrong they seperate them. I can see encouraging them to play with others or forcing a bigger group but i don't think it's fair they get physically seperated. on the bully thing i think your DD is already handling it. does she know to say things like, stop that, or I don't like it when you do that or I won't play with you if you do that. things along those lines because i feel like if she sometimes plays with this bully kid then she knows when NOT to play as in when the child is mean to her.I think she has the situation figured out for the most part. unless theres a serious situation or a lot of violence i tend to try and let my dd work her stuff out. at the doctors office one visit a boy kept hitting and kicking my nessa and she surprised the hell out of me when she told that boy to Stop it, she didn't like that and said it loud and sternly too. my heart melted as i told her how well she handled herself. of course i wanted to kick that kid dead in his butt or more really his ma as she sat there like she didn't see this boy constantly kicking my girl but ya know.sorry for the rant anyway my point was i think your DD is working it out.

Jessica
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind~~Dr.Seuss

Jessica
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind~~Dr.Seuss

mamaneen's picture
Submitted by mamaneen on

that rocks. yes, i think you're right about the bully issue, too. dd just told me yesterday that the girl in question was treating her well yesterday, and she played well with dd, her best friend, and some of the other kids. she knows to say no! to unacceptable behavior, and i'm hoping things are improving.

good to see you, btw - hope you and your girls and carl are doing fabulously!

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon