It’s infuriating when your young child is being bullied and even harder to know what do to about Kindergarten bullying. Whether it be in the form of physical assault or verbal assault, it can carry long term emotional repercussions. For the parents of children experiencing bullying: I’ve been there and I understand. My children are 5 and 7, have each has experienced “bullying” in Kindergarten due to a classmate with an undiagnosed or underserved issue – call it want you want I don’t have interest in a PC debate about categorization because developmental delays, mental illness, psychiatric disorders, ADHD, ASD, etc – all can materialize differently from child to child. While most do not present in physical aggression toward other children, sometimes it does and this is the leading cause of bullying for children in the Kindergarten age range. Now, what to do about Kindergarten bullying…
Of the two children who physically and verbally assaulted my children…one was ADHD and the other is ASD. The child with ASD even had a full time shadow/aide in the classroom and it still happened. One event was two years ago…and I’m currently in the middle of the other. I have another post on the experience 2 years ago which you can find here.
I hope that you get to work proactively with the other parents and your teacher to resolve the issue. I hope that the child in need of help gets it. Try really hard as it’s truly the best way. Be the squeaky wheel in the kindest way, then mean business…but try…try…try! Sometimes the parents of the other child simply won’t acknowledge their child’s issue, have a “boys will be boys” or “you know girls” type of attitude…the biggest loser in that scenario is their own child. It makes me sad.
Promote new and different friendships
The first thing I suggest is to plan 1 on 1 playdates with other children in the class to promote new/different friendships. This can better enable you to steer your child to proactively play with different children, choose to sit with different kids at lunch, and choose other playmates on the playground. I would ask your teacher for recommendations for children who would be a good match for your child/family.
Reflecting on my now 7 year old’s experience when he was 5…there was a child who the bully didn’t bully. That child was my son’s bestie at school. So wherever the bestie went, my son followed…that means my son walked himself right into the area where the bully was playing. I know what you’re thinking but 5-year olds don’t defend others when it happens, that is expecting too much of the bestie…we need to be realistic. Strengthening friendships with other children would have helped him to choose other kids to play with…and sent him away from the bully, not toward him.
Yes, I know our child isn’t the problem and when angry we can feel like this should not rest on our shoulders…but it accomplishes the end goal…which is to not be bullied! Focus on the end goal and not the principal here. This is a hard thing to do when in the trenches.
To do list for reporting Kindergarten bullying
I hope you can resolve it together but I know that doesn’t always happen, so here’s my what to do about Kindergarten bullying checklist:
- Write down all the details of each incident your child tells you about.
- Keep a log with dates, details, and try to identify patterns (does it happen at lunch? School yard? Classroom? Line? Are there other kids around?)
- Contact your teacher first, ask for a meeting to develop a plan.
- For example, maybe the class is frequently split into groups and the children can be separated more, or maybe there can be a special signal to the teacher by your child that he needs help. Make this contact in writing and send another follow up email after the meeting recapping everything discussed.
- Request that your child be separated in the bathroom and sat at different tables for lunch. Ask lots of questions of both your child and the teacher and identify other times during school when the bullying happens for example you might demand your child’s “spot” on the rug or his/her desk (if assigned) not be in arms reach of the child.
- Teach your child to report it to the teacher EVERY time and also to you after school.
- If your child is supervised by other teachers or aides at lunch and recess make sure your child is telling their teacher too! So that would mean 3 people (aide, teacher and you).
- Ask the teacher at pick-up how the day was. If she verbally reports to you she may not write it too…so make sure you log it.
- Demand that any and all incidents reported to the teacher by your child and/or observed by a teacher be reported to you in writing.
- Watch your wording here, you’re not asking for this your are demanding/requiring this.
- Don’t be a gossip but find out if it’s happening to other children.
- Ask your child as he/she may know and see it happen to others. Your teacher cannot tell you outright, but you may covertly ask something like – “Are there other parents I could talk to that you might think would be understanding or helpful?” Something along those lines. There can be strength in numbers. Encourage the to make meetings with the teacher, and principal if necessary.
If you cannot get anywhere with the teacher
You’ll quickly get a sense of whether the teacher is proactive or not. If she is give her a chance to help. If she’s not then don’t hesitate to contact the Principal for a meeting. Maybe the teacher lacks resources, maybe she sucks, maybe a million things but you have the right to elevate the issue.
Know your child’s rights
- Before you go a meeting with your Principal, research your school or district policy on bullying.
- All schools should have a lengthy document on Bullying. Learn the lingo used. And use it intelligently in this conversation.
- Ask the Principal if your child is physically safe at school. Ask if your child is supposed to be safe while at school. Ask if being assaulted 6 times in two months is what the school defines as safe. As how the school does in fact define safe. Ask how many assaults on your child are considered tolerable or acceptable by the district/school. Ask hard questions.
- Be prepared, the school cannot tell you ANYTHING about the other child.
- Schools cannot even tell the child’s name. In most cases we know the other child because our child tells us who it is…but privacy is VERY serious in public school.
- Schools cannot tell you what might possibly underlie the behavior, or what might be going on (or not going on) to help the other child with that behavior.
- This is extremely frustrating as a parent!
- Report repercussions from the bullying…
- Is your child asking not to go to school? Is your child doing behavioral things you are associating with this experience? Make sure you report this!
- Make contact in writing as much as possible.
- Think paper trail.
Hire an Advocate
No matter where you live I feel confident that your child legally has the right to be physically and emotionally safe at school. If you cannot accomplish this on your own, bring in the professionals. Choose one that knows your school district and how things work.
You may just need a phone call consult with one for a hour for advice…or you may bring one into the meetings and ongoing conversation- in any amount, they can add much valuable insight.
It can be challenging for families to get services in Kindergarten. I don’t have a plethora of Prevention ideas for this age group. I don’t think we can prevent the underlying issues that drive the vast majority of “bullying” for the little ones, however we can certainly come together as a community and work to help those children who need it most.
It can be challenging to accept that your child has a real issue, one that could be lifelong. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. In many cases, parents simply are unwilling to recognize larger underlying issues for a long time in hopes they resolve themselves. Others simply don’t bother to advocate for their child to get more services, and too often Parents are even fighting against the school’s attempts to get services for their child. In many cases that is what schools are up against.
Support each other
We as parents need to support our districts in paying for services like classroom aides and shadows, and working together as families within a school to help.
Are there other things that helped you? Do you have suggestions for readers? PLEASE leave sentiments below, we can all benefit from them!
Thanks for reading and I hope you get resolution ASAP! Feel free to contact me, DM in Instagram is best way to reach me.