Instead of trying to justify his aggressive behaviour or dismiss it as a naughty moment, ﬁnd out why he is acting this way, suggests Dr Richard C. Woolfson.
Is he always at the bottom of the family pecking order? It could be that your preschooler feels powerless and weak at home because everyone else seems to enjoy more choice and influence. Perhaps bullying makes your child feel tough and powerful for once.
Do other kids in the preschool bully? While “They all do it too, Mum” is not an acceptable excuse for misbehaviour, it’s always worth checking out if his friends are also anti-social and aggressive.
Children copy one another, and he might have started bullying so as to remain acknowledged by them.
Understanding your child’s motivation will direct you towards the best course of action to resolve the situation. Here’s a five-step guide:
Discuss your concerns with preschool staff Talk to his teachers and explain that you saw him bully another child. Draw their attention to it so they remain vigilant and take action to stop his behaviour.
Tell your child you saw what he did Your fouryear-old might think you are unaware of his action. Point out that you saw him at it and that this behaviour is unacceptable.
Explain you have spoken to his teachers He will be shocked and embarrassed that you and his teachers know about it. That’s likely to discourage further bullying.
Encourage him to think of the victim He may never have thought about the impact of his aggression on other children – he might simply see the incident as funny. Discuss how a victim feels.
Let him know you will watch closely from now on Once he knows that you are aware of his bullying – and that you and his teachers will keep one another informed about this – it will deter him from acting this way.
Find out if his friends are also anti-social and aggressive. Your child might have started bullying so as to remain acknowledged by them.
ILLUSTRATION CHENG PUAY KOON.