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How to bully proof your child?


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#1 Mama Lama

Posted 16 January 2013 - 02:54 PM

    Can anyone offer advice as to how I bully proof my child?  My daughter (2 and 1/2) is pretty sensitive  and this is a beautiful quality around family and friends as she is considerate  of others so tuned into those around her.

    My concern is at playgroup (one council and one at my local  ABA) the ‘bully’ in each of these groups seems to target her.  I have tried stepping in to separate them,  stepping back to let her deal with it, politely asking the parents to keep an  eye out for their kids, asking the other child to ‘go back to Mum’ play  somewhere else, play nicely– but it keeps on occurring and mainly to my  daughter and rarely other kids (the child returns again and again whether I am  10 meters away or at arm’s length).  I  realise it maybe because they get a reaction out of her, but what should I do?

    1)       Watch like a hawk and pre-empt every interaction  with kids who are prone to violence (this may get tricky with #2 on the way)

    2)       Not attend playgroup (but this is just avoiding  the problem isn’t it)

    3)       Scream at the other child (really don’t want to  do this and pretty sure that would render me a social outcast)

    4)       Teach her to hit back (I know this is wrong but  I am running out of options)

    5)       I am trying to explain that they are looking for  a reaction so stay away from them and shout at them loudly “STOP GO AWAY” –  this is the option we are working on now, but her fear and panic (understandably)  is making it hard for her.

    Thanks for reading this far - has anyone else been through  this?  I know this can be normal kid  stuff but with all the bullying and sad stories in the media, what is normal?  and when does a certain type of kid become a target for bullies no matter where  they are?  I was nearly brought to tears  today after 6 attacks in a 1 hour period – we just had to leave – they all happened  so quickly I could not stop them.

    

#2 FeralSqueakyBee

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:07 PM

I can't speak from experience, but from what I've seen from other people it's about teaching her to be assertive, rather than aggressive. Also, she needs to learn these skills herself because you won't always be there to intervene.

Firstly, make it clear that her body is her own, and it's not ok for other people to touch/push/pinch/hit her and that she is allowed to have her own space.

Then, give her some phrases to say - "Stop hitting me, I don't like it when you do that!" or whatever is appropriate for the situation. Get her to practice saying it in a clear and forceful tone, and if they don't stop then tell her to get up and walk away, preferably to close to where you or other adults are.

Again, I can't speak from experience but this approach seems to be working for other people I know. Good luck addressing it!

#3 JustBeige

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:07 PM

I think at this age you need to do a combination of watching like a hawk and using your stern mummy voice to say "Stop. we dont hit(?). We use gentle hands"   Sometimes a child who automatically hits knows no better and unless shown how to be gentle really has no clue.

If they are hitting whilst you are standing right next to your child then its pretty certain that this is the way they think they should act.

By you saying stop dont hit (and possibly putting your arm in between the child and your DD, if needed) you are modelling this for your child.

If the child keeps hitting and doesnt pay attention, you can do two things - take them back to their parent each and every time.   and/or talk to the coordinator of the group for them to keep an eye on the child.  

Some parents DGAF about another mum saying something, but will pay attention if the coordinator says something.


Lastly, if it keeps up and you have tried a couple of different avenues, then yes, pulling her out is the next step.

#4 ImpatientAnna

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:15 PM

QUOTE (JustBeige @ 16/01/2013, 04:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think at this age you need to do a combination of watching like a hawk and using your stern mummy voice to say "Stop. we dont hit(?). We use gentle hands"   Sometimes a child who automatically hits knows no better and unless shown how to be gentle really has no clue.

If they are hitting whilst you are standing right next to your child then its pretty certain that this is the way they think they should act.

By you saying stop dont hit (and possibly putting your arm in between the child and your DD, if needed) you are modelling this for your child.

If the child keeps hitting and doesnt pay attention, you can do two things - take them back to their parent each and every time.   and/or talk to the coordinator of the group for them to keep an eye on the child.  

Some parents DGAF about another mum saying something, but will pay attention if the coordinator says something.


Lastly, if it keeps up and you have tried a couple of different avenues, then yes, pulling her out is the next step.


Sorry, no suggestions OP but who are these parents who don't intervene when their  child is hitting?!???!!


#5 Country (deci)Mel

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:17 PM

My nephews were both taught at daycare to put your hand out and say "Stop! I don't like that!"

It seems to work very well and it neatly circumvents all of the "Oh I didn't know he didn't like it.." or "We were just having fun/playing.." excuses a bully will try on.  It also of course lets a boisterous child who is hurting/frightening a playmate by accident know that they are and to back off..

#6 BabeBlossom

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

I understand your concern, I have a gentle, sensitive daughter myself and always worry about her good nature being a disadvantage. So far she has surprised me with her lack of reaction towards aggressors, so far her blank look of disbelief is scaring them off. We start playgroup next month so I'm holding my breath how it will go.
I read a brilliant book book, how to raise an optimistic child. Its about increasing self esteem to help bully proof them, and stop them from becoming bullies. Its more of a long term solution and I think more beneficial as they get older but could be worth a read. I can't help with immediate strategies but will be watching with interest.

#7 CallMeFeral

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

I'd love to know the answer to this.

I think the PP response is a good one for the specific situations. But the fact that she is the target in BOTH groups is interesting - and I can see why this makes you ask how to help her not to be.

What are the other kids actually doing to her? Shouting at her or hitting her?

TBH, I know it's not what you're supposed to do, but I'd tell her if someone hits her, and doesn't stop when she says stop, to hit them back  ph34r.gif
I know it's perpetuating violence and all that, and at an older age I'd promote some different strategies, but at that young age things are pretty simple and anything too complicated won't work.
But hopefully there will be some better options suggested!

#8 Mama Lama

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:22 PM

Thanks everyone:

SqueakyBee - good idea, I'll try to build up a few phrases for her.

JustBeige - I like the idea of modelling, thanks also for validating that going back to the parent each time is not seen as being a pain.  That may finally encourage them to stay as close to their child as I have to.

ImpatientAnna - I am not sure - they are nice people - but maybe see this as an opportunity to take a break?  They seem a bit exasperated what this happens - so they may be over it?

CountryMel - I'll add that one to the list - Thanks.

I already feel relieved to hear your responses - I was no sure if I was being over protective or too sensitive cause of the pregnancy! thanks!

#9 Mama Lama

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:26 PM

BabeBlossom - thanks for the book recommendation and good luck with playgroup!

CallMeAliG - it is pushing, hitting with toys, hitting with a stick once, throwing food, shoving, snatching toys (not so concerned about the last one).  Mainly violence.  If it was yelling, my DD is pretty articulate so I don' think that would concern her as much.  She is petite so she immediately feels threatened.  Thanks for sharing the concern about it happening in both groups - that is the bit that has me worried the most too...

#10 Peppery

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:28 PM

I have also taught the ''stop i don't like it'' to DD. Thankfully she has a natural bellowing voice so i can hear her and also her teachers at preschool are alerted to the situation.



#11 Mummy Em

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:40 PM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 16/01/2013, 01:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My nephews were both taught at daycare to put your hand out and say "Stop! I don't like that!"

It seems to work very well and it neatly circumvents all of the "Oh I didn't know he didn't like it.." or "We were just having fun/playing.." excuses a bully will try on.  It also of course lets a boisterous child who is hurting/frightening a playmate by accident know that they are and to back off..


I was going to suggest this. Arm out straight in front of her (to re-establish her personal space) hand up like a police officer, loud, strong voice: "STOP, I don't like that!" Practice it by role playing at home. She can use it both of kids and on adults if they are doing something that make her feel unsafe. And she will probably still need you to be close by. I used to wear dd2 in a carrier at playgroup.

#12 jibsi

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:54 PM

To be honest, considering the age of the kids, I think you sound a bit hysterical about this. Using words like "bullies" and "violence" is a bit over the top for this age group.
All the kids (even the ones that hit) are learning how to play and behave with others and it is the role of adults to guide them in my view. Unfortunately some parents don"t guide their kids as well as others so that may be where your difficulty lies (rather than with the kids themselves). Unfortunately you may have to be the one to tell the other kid to "use gentle hands", "share toys nicely" etc. As others have suggested, teach your daughter that it is ok to be assertive and give her strategies.

Good luck, it can be tricky navigating them through this stage!



#13 kadoodle

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:56 PM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 16/01/2013, 04:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My nephews were both taught at daycare to put your hand out and say "Stop! I don't like that!"

It seems to work very well and it neatly circumvents all of the "Oh I didn't know he didn't like it.." or "We were just having fun/playing.." excuses a bully will try on.  It also of course lets a boisterous child who is hurting/frightening a playmate by accident know that they are and to back off..



This is what my kids have all been taught at CC/preschool and school.

My DS1 is a gentle sort of kid too.  The kind who cries when it rains and there are dead worms on the footpath.  The bullies just smell him out.

#14 JustBeige

Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:59 PM

QUOTE (Mummy Em @ 16/01/2013, 04:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Arm out straight in front of her (to re-establish her personal space) hand up like a police officer, loud, strong voice: "STOP, I don't like that!" Practice it by role playing at home. She can use it both of kids and on adults if they are doing something that make her feel unsafe. And she will probably still need you to be close by. I used to wear dd2 in a carrier at playgroup.

Yep this is what we did with ours also.   #1 has lovely dulcet tones that can be heard a country away, so she was pretty OK at coming across as serious, whereas #2 had to be taught that it was OK to have a loud voice and use it in this instance.

I also had to ask the teacher that if she heard #2 using his loud voice could she please pay attention as he needed help (this was in FYOS though)

Edited by JustBeige, 16 January 2013 - 04:00 PM.


#15 MaeGlyn

Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:08 PM

2 1/2 is not bullying.

I know what it feels like to have a child push your child over in playgroup. It does make you feel a bit bit upset, but that is you. The children are still toddlers and they are learning.

We had a girl in our playgroup who pushed and hit other kids. The other mother's intervened by trying to encorouge her to play in group games and constantly say that each child 'name enter here' liked her. It made a really big difference and her behavior improved a lot. She wasn't pushing when we left the playgroup. Maybe that would be a good strategy.

Older children are different, a child is less able to be bullied if they have a high self esteem, and their parents are very interactive in their life and they have been well socialised as your young toddler is.

#16 liveworkplay

Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:16 PM

Some good advice but I think in the long term it is all about instilling confidence and self worth in your child.  Both my eldest kids are very empathetic, with the eldest being very sensitive as well.

I honestly don't know the "how" but I do know that they are both confident enough to walk away if they don't like something and to be happy NOT to go along with the crowd. They also have the confidence to tell another child if they do not like them doing something and walk away.

At your DD's age, I certainly didn't "rescue" them from every confrontation but consoled them if something happened and worked out a simple strategy (eg, why don't you go and do craft for a while and then come back to the swing) to cope.

They are now 9 and 6 and things still hurt their feelings but they deal with it at the time of it happening and then we debrief about it at home

Edited by liveworkplay, 16 January 2013 - 04:18 PM.


#17 Escapin

Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:46 PM

So hard when it's your kid bearing the brunt of someone else's kid - regardless of what you call it. I think it's perfectly OK to parent the other kid in those circumstances. If their parents aren't there to do so, then you can. Especially at playgroup - it's not like they are some random at the park.

#18 Mama Lama

Posted 16 January 2013 - 05:14 PM

Thanks for the advice and honest opinions.  I was not sure if I was a bit emotional about this as I am pregnant, or if this is normal parental concern.

I really appreciate your advice kadoodle - for sharing that your child is similar to mine - but things turning out okay.

MaeGlyn - It is a reassuring perspective that this is all behavoural and kids will be kids and that if we keep up with the love and social elements at home - she will be protected (and can walk away) from the nasty stuff that goes on in high school.

I guess I was curious as to when parents realise their kid is a target - later in life (high school) or much earlier.  It seems that the concerning behaviour emerges in school and this is playground stuff which is more about setting boundaries and teaching assertiveness?  No one gave me the manual...not sure if anyone has a copy?

#19 Mama Lama

Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:20 PM

Thanks Escapin - it is such a fine line between defending your child and then crossing the line of disciplining someone else's child.  I am more confortable with the idea - especially now the hand up and a big "NO - STOP IT."  It serves as modelling the right response for my DD too.

#20 Propaganda

Posted 16 January 2013 - 08:10 PM

I heard, "Stop it, I don't like it!" so many times when mine was about 3. It was what daycare taught and was used in daily life as well.

I think they're so little at that age that generally, they can't be expected to socialise properly with other children, so you've got to keep a close eye, and try to let both children know that violence is not acceptable. I think you have every right to tell the other child to stop. You don't need to yell, you just need to say firmly, "Stop that. It's not nice to hit." Something very simple or you'll lose them. Sometimes, just a stranger telling them something is enough to scare them away.

Mostly, I think you need to teach your child to stand up for herself and not put up with violence. It might not matter much yet, but in years to come I think it probably will be quite an important skill for her to possess.

#21 beabea

Posted 17 January 2013 - 11:59 PM

QUOTE
Sorry, no suggestions OP but who are these parents who don't intervene when their child is hitting?!???!!
They might be the ones out back changing the baby's nappy, or running madly after their early walker. Sometimes they just have their hands really full.

OP, teaching assertiveness and self-esteem is great, but for a backup plan, why not show your daughter who the parents are and teach her to approach them directly? If she can talk well enough to make herself understood to most people, she may be able to put across a simple sentence like, "Such-and-such (ie your child) is hitting me." I can't guarantee anything, but it might have the best odds of producing the desired effect.

ETA: As she moves into the 3+ agegroup as well, teaching of basic social skills should also help. If she knows how to play cooperatively she has some insulation against uncooperative players, if you see what I mean. It will help her self-confidence and also give her friends/an ability to turn to alternative playmates. So I think nurturing general social skills can be a bully-proofing technique, too.

Edited by beabea, 18 January 2013 - 12:09 AM.





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