May 30, 2007,
A.M. asks from Grand Rapids, MI on May 16, 2007
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...
K.S. answers from Lansing on May 23, 2007
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!
J.F. answers from Kalamazoo on May 18, 2007
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!!
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L.P. answers from Saginaw on May 18, 2007
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!
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S.S. answers from Detroit on May 18, 2007
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.
A.P. answers from Detroit on May 18, 2007
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!
M.C. answers from Detroit on May 18, 2007
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.
J.T. answers from Grand Rapids on May 17, 2007
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.
J.G. answers from Detroit on May 18, 2007
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!
L.M. answers from Detroit on May 18, 2007
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.