Sending your little one off to kindergarten is one of the most bittersweet moments in a parent’s life. On the one hand, you’re so proud to see the little being that they’ve grown into. On the other hand, that’s your baby heading off into the world without you! Of all the things you’ll need to prepare your child for before starting kindergarten, you may not think bullying is high up on the list. After all, we’re talking about 5-year-old children here! Not exactly the demographic that we would imagine spending a lot of time dealing with bullying!
The sad fact is bullying starts earlier than ever. In some cases, it may even begin as early as during the preschool years! The American Education Research Association issued a report back in April on bullying in which they said that bullying is “one of the greatest health risks to children and young adults…” The report goes on to say that many personnel in schools are ill-equipped to deal with the problem. As parents, we have to step in and teach our children how to recognize bullying. We also have to provide them with answers their young minds so desperately seek.
Tips for Preparing Your Kindergartner for Dealing with Bullying
- Choose a quiet, relaxing time to discuss it. Start the discussion by choosing the right time. Plucking your child from the middle of an exciting game of tag to discuss the finer points of bullying isn’t going to get the message to sink in. Bedtime may also not be the best time. Do you really want your child thinking about bullies before falling asleep? Maybe take a walk together and start the discussion.
- Define bullying in terms your kindergartner can understand. Keep it simple! Let your child know that a bully is someone who says or does hurtful things on a somewhat regular basis. A simple fight between friends really doesn’t constitute bullying, but if that so-called friend is constantly putting down your child, it’s a sign of bullying. Excluding a child from group activities just to be mean is also a type of bullying. Be sure to explain that sometimes there are adult bullies as well, and how your child should react to them.
- Explain what to do if your child is being bullied or witnesses bullying. Let your kindergartner know that if he is being bullied, he should tell his teacher right away. Likewise, if he sees another child being bullied, it is important to speak up! In addition to telling his teacher, he should also tell you when he gets home from school.
- Try not to freak him out! You don’t want your child heading off to kindergarten thinking all kids are bullies! It’s scary enough to start school and be away from home all day. Yes, bullying is a problem, but it’s not what school is all about!
- Finish with a positive. Going along with trying not to freak out your little one, finish with a positive message. Let your kindergartner know that starting school is an adventure. She’ll make many new friends and learn exciting new things! If she does run into bullying though, she’ll know how to handle it. That can give her the confidence she needs to have a great year.
This conversation should be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue between you and your child, not just a one-time talk. Throughout the school year, make sure to keep an eye out for cases of bullying. Make talks about how the day went part of your after-school routine. Ask about friends and teachers. Don’t make it seem like you’re looking for a negative answer, just let the conversation flow naturally and stay alert. Chances are your kindergartner will have a terrific first year of school. It’s just good to keep an eye out for bullying so you can nip it in the bud early on!
Do you have any tips for preparing your kindergartner for dealing with bullying? We’d love to hear them!