16 answers

Preschool Mean Kids

My 3-year-old (he'll be 3 1/2 next week) started preschool soon after getting potty-trained in February of 2007. All of the other kids in his class started in September of 2006 (when school traditionally starts). My son LOVES activities and teachers and kids so my hubby and I were so excited to finally get him potty trained and enrolled in a preschool. In the past we had done classes at the Y, Gymboree, and play groups here and there.

After the first week of preschool, my son started to get really quiet when we asked him about school. He said that he didn't have any friends at preschool ("John isn't my friend, Mama." ME - "Why, honey?" SON - "Because he told me". So - I asked him what he did about it and he said he told the teacher and she told the other kids to be nice. I asked the teacher about it next time I dropped him off and she said that never happened. So - day after day - my son says he doesn't want to go to preschool - that the kids aren't nice kids - that he doesn't like it. Hubby and I went to his preschool recital and overheard two of the boys saying mean things to our son ("get off of that!" GEt away from me" ).

Hubby and I talked and decided to remove him from the school. The teacher was shocked - said that our son, she thought, had trouble socializing and that she never heard anyone say anything unkind to him.

This school, by the way, is in a VERY well-to-do area highly recommended by a lot of people we know.

So - now - son is quiet and nervous in social situations. It's like he's a different kid completely. We went to the Meijer Gardens yesterday and he just stood and watched the other kids playing and didn't play WITH them. In Feb - before we started - he would have walked up - introduced himself - made eye contact - and had fun with them.

Any input? I'd love any advice. Should we encourage him somehow differently? Would you guys have pulled him from the school?

I'm just heartbroken that my little guy seems to have had such a bad experience. We're starting a new preschool in the Fall...


What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I would have pulled my son out too, but it's hard to find ways to help them socialize without making them too uncomfortable sometimes. I would have suggested you send him to another school because if you fall off the horse, you won't overcome it, unless you get back on. It's good that he's going to a new school. Good luck!

More Answers

Hi A.,

I think you did the right thing, pulling him from that preschool. If your childs behavior has changed that much, you know something was up and good for you for not looking the other way!! You saw first hand what a couple of the other kids were saying so you know what your son said was true. My daughter was in daycare and I didn't always get the truth about what was going on with her all day and that is important when you can't be with them.
If it were me, I'd slowly introduce him back with other children and let him know some kids are mean and he should try to play with nicer kids. I think at his age he can tell a nice kid from a mean one and let him know that it isn't his fault that they are mean to him. He will bounce back from this!!

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think that I would have pulled him out of school. But that is just me, personally. My son was the SAME way and still is to a certain extent! (He's 6). By pulling him out, you have taught him that he does not have to try to make friends, he can come to you and avoid the situation all together. If your son did not start school until 5 months after the other kids, they already had their "groups" established and the "new kid" is bound to get picked on even though it is not fair! Keep exposing him to social situations and eventually he will open up, even if it is just a little bit!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello A.,
I am 43 and have a 6 year old son (16 & 21 yr old daughters). He was so excited about starting school. He had been in school for about 2 weeks when I heard him say someone was being mean to him. Of course he didn't know his name, just what he looked like and what kind of lunch box he had. One day I picked him up from school and talked to the teacher about the situation. Explaining that I didn't know if it was my son exaggerating or someone was being mean. I just wanted her to be aware of it before it exculated. She had approached him while I was standing there. My son broke down in tears. Not normal. He was afraid if he told the teacher he would get in trouble. She got down on his level and explained that school is suppose to be fun and if someone is mean to him that he has to let the teacher know so we can talk the situation out. Kids are mean. They have their little friends and don't think twice about saying something mean especially if it makes someone laugh. The best thing you can do is tell his new preschool teacher about the situation and that your son is now afraid to make friends. Tell her you are not looking for special attention, just a little guidance so your son will enjoy the experience. You might want to explain to your son that some kids are mean and luckily there are a lot of kids so he can find friends that are nice to him.
S.'s mom

A. B,

Your request is very sensitive to me because it "hits" home. I actually felt your motherly pain. I went through the same thing you are going through now. My son is 7yrs old now and he was in that situation at preschool and even at 7 yrs old he still goes through this. At preschool, I also did like you and talked with the teachers so that they were aware of the situation and they were very attentive. Some children are product of their environment and I believe they are simply not being taught at home good social skills. I encouraged him everyday, I told him he was loved and that he was special and I let the teacher and I still let people know that he is loved and he is special. Eventhough, your son is 3 yrs old start teaching him to control his situation, you Mom and Dad are going to have to do this so that he can stand up for himself. It's not too soon believe me. Tell him that if someone is mean to him that it's okay to tell them that they are "mean" and he doesn't like people being "mean" to him.

I believe you did the right thing to take him out of the daycare because sometimes children know things aren't right but cannot express what's really happening to them but they show it and just because the preschool was highly recommended doesn't mean it is really up to "Par".

We are a military family and we live here on base with a lot of children my son age and we definitely again encountered this situation where my son was the minority and the little boys had their little groups of who they played with. My son would simply come home and tell me that he has no one to play with and A. B it would break my heart to see him cry. I would just go into the bathroom and just shed tears but I wouldn't let him see me but I would encourage him, I and my husband would make it a family day and again remind him that he is loved and that he is special. Find out what he likes to do because even at 3yrs old he is beginning to have a talent or an interest in something maybe he likes to draw, sign him for soccer or baseball now that the weather is warm. I'm sure he would like that. A. B this is not the first time you and your husband are going to encounter this problem with him, there will be many more but keep encouraging him and tell him you "love" him everyday and that he can do anything he wants to do!

I know that my son is a little different than most kids because he was born singing in the womb and he sings everywhere he goes. But, I love the little "singing bandit" God gave me..:))

A. P.

I think you did the right thing. When I was in grade school, I was picked on and begged my mom everyday to do something about it and she never did. To this day it affects me. Just because the school was in a "well to do" area doesn't mean it's the best place for your child.


Have you tried going to a play group or maybe a story time at the library or B&N? Maybe he just needs to be reminded that not all kids are mean and some non-pressure situations would help. B&N did a weekly story session (last I knew) and the last one that I went to they did a little craft type activity after reading the stories. He could hang back with you as long as he wants to or join the other kids and maybe after a few visits he would feel comfortable joining in again.

I would think that you wouldn't want to push him into a situation. I would be supportive and let them size up the situation until they felt comfortable joining. I would encourage, join the group with him, whatever he needs until he is ready to venture off on his own again.

Good Luck!

Unfortunately as you can see from the others that have responded that this is common.
When my daughter went through this I made sure I was there early for drop offs and early for pickups. My goal was to find my daughter a friend. I found a mom that lived close to us and set up a play date at our house. The following weekend the Mom and the daughter came over. That was the answer. My daughter finally felt comfortable and started opening up at school. If the first play date doesn't work for you find another mom and try again. Good luck!

My heart goes out to you. I believe you did the right thing by pulling your son. I had a similar situation with my son and a day care he was attending. Always listen to your gut you know your child better then anyone. I would not dwell on the past, rather encourage all of his positive behavior to help build back up his confidence. Children are very resilient, I know it is very hard to see them upset and an experience like this is heartbreaking, but things will get better and you are definitely on the right path.

Good luck and if you have any other questions I would be happy to share my experiences with you.

I would have pulled my son out too, but it's hard to find ways to help them socialize without making them too uncomfortable sometimes. I would have suggested you send him to another school because if you fall off the horse, you won't overcome it, unless you get back on. It's good that he's going to a new school. Good luck!

Hi A.,

As a parent reading your statements my heart was breaking. Kids can be so mean! I would have definately pulled my child. At 3 school is suppose to be fun not degrading. He has the rest of his life to go to school. I think you did everything correct from talking to the teacher to taking him out. If it were my child I would try not to make a big deal about it whild he is around. I would be getting him back in the Gymboree and playgroups. Little by little helping him to get his confidence back and to become social once again. Children learn how to play and socialize by their parents. It is not just innate. Unfortunately some parents don't take the time to teach good social behaviors. The good news is children can change so quickly. My daughter was picked on in preschool by a child and the preschool teachers did nothing. (she did have other friends their) When going to kindergarten I did everything in my power to make it so that she was not in the same class. The other child changed at the last minute and they were placed in the same Kindergarten. I was heart broken and my daughter got a sore tummy. (yes stress of this little girl) I brought this to the teachers attention the very first day. She assured me that they were all a kindergarten family and noone would be aloud to be mean. Today this child and my daughter are the best of friends.
Good luck! Your son can only benefit froming having such a caring mom.


It sounds like the teachers and staff should have been more concerned with your concerns. Frankly I would be more worried about that than the kids. If you are not comfortable with a pre-school/day care then I always think you are right to remove your child. I've done it myself. That being said, my son is almost 3 1/2 and has been in daycare. Occassionly he says he doesn't want to go to school and I was worried for a while and talked to his teachers to make sure there wasn't something going on at school. He just wants to stay home some days (just like he doesn't want to pick up or take a bath some days). All of the kids will occassionaly say "mean" things to each other, like "you're not my friend"; "get away"; ect. It is usually nothing-- they all do it and rarely mean it (at least not for more than a minute or two). However our teachers do recognize it and correct the behaivor immediately. Your son may be overly sensative, may just have been overwhelmed, or may have been intimidated. Whatever the reason, if you weren't comfortable with him there (and if he wasn't happy), he shouldn't be there.

I would try some classes over the summer where you can be in the background and wish you the best of luck with pre-school in the fall!

I think you did the right thing. While I realize that our children need to learn that not everyone is nice and we cannot protect them from everything forever if it was affecting his everyday life and the teacher refused to even observe the other children around him more closely I would have pulled him too. Kids can be mean and we cannot change that however we can protect our children to an extent. You did the right things in the right order. Talking to teacher, then deciding to remove him and that says that you thought it out and felt it was best for your son. Good luck! I am sorry that you and he had this experience.

Kids will be mean and a lot of them treat other kids the way they have been raised by there own family. My son is 5 yrs old and he has went to the same daycare/ preschool since he was 6 weeks old. This daycare/preschool is licensed for 60 kids so there are a lot of mean children running around. When my son has come home and stated similar problems, I just reminded him that he is very special, smart, fun and interesting. I tell him it's not nice to speak badly of others and to be friends with everyone. I would suggest lots and lots of positive reinforcement. Maybe you could take yourchild to a playgroup with some cousins and kids he feels comfortable with and let him know that it will be ok. Not all kids are raised the way he is and not all kids will be nice all the time.
Maybe even make a special treat with him to take to a playdate or to school next year. Kids seem to warm up faster when you are offering them something ( like a yummy kids homemade treat)
Best of luck.

Hi! We have had a similar situation with our kindergardener. We noticed he was having social problems after starting school and after awhile he was getting in trouble at school. His teacher would say that he would hit the other children and start fights, while he was telling us that the other kids were being mean to him and picking on him. While at home we had no problems with him playing with other kids. I think what happened was that his teacher was not really paying extra attention to the situation. I believe that the other kids were picking on him and he would only take it for so long before he would retaliate. We did switch schools and he is much better now. He likes to go to school. Hopefully your child's next school will work out better. Just be sure to stress that it is not his fault that he will be going to a different school. Good luck!

You were right to pull him from the school, I would have done the same thing. The teacher doesn't sound all that observant and I don't think I want someone like that watching over my kids anyway. I have a couple ideas for myself when the time comes. I will definetly start him when everyone else does, that way friendships can be made right from the start, its hard for kids at any age to go into a new school mid year where everyone already has their friends picked out. 2nd, if you have any friends or family members that will go or are going to a preschool already that know him already and can be someone he can hang out with and make new friends as he goes but at least he will have someone he can play with right away. Hope this helps and good luck. KR

hello A. i to would do that if it was my child i changed my daughter school after two year because she did not feal safe do to what a boy in her class kept saying to her schoo; is a fun safe place and when it no longer that it no longer a learning place .get him in to play group or take him where there bound to be kids then try school in sep goog luck

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