Bullying in Preschool

Updated on November 20, 2011
K.M. asks from Wakefield, MA
17 answers

Allright Mama's, I'm running on Friday fumes and emotions here, so bear with me.

This takes a little bit of background info- Time warp to last Thursday. I noticed my son coming home with a couple scrapes and bruises ( back and on his hip ) he is 3 1/2. I thought they were odd, and if something happens at school, usually an incident report is filled out and you get a phone call. Well none of that was being done and then thursday night he came home with a scrape from his wrist to his elbow ( on the inside of his arm ). I had only noticed it after we were home ( long sleeve days are in full effect here in MA ) and I asked him about it. He told me something happened on the slide.Teachers checked out the slide, nothing wrong with it. Friday and monday it was a real chore to get him to school, saying he didnt like his class anymore and that he didnt want to go. He was really adamant about not going. I thought that was really strange, so I emailed the center director that day. Unbeknownst to me, some boys just entered his class, and they have older sblings, and she tells me- they play a little rough, and have to be spoken to about it often, especially when playing outside.

We agree that he should be moved up to preschool 2. He was currently in Preschool 1. They were going to slowly start integrating him. That was on Wednesday. Now today I am driving to school and I get a call that he was kicked in the face on the playground. I get to school and the center director said that it was maliciously done. The child just wallked up to him while he was laying down in the grass playing and kicked him in the face.

He was given a "warning" and was going to be sent home with an incident report also.

I am beside myself. Is this bullying? I thought the child punishment seemed kind of light, but I dont think she was at liberty to give me all the details ( she wasnt even allowed to tell me the childs name, but my son told me as soon as we got into the car who had done it )

I want to go crazy on this school and tell them how ridiculous this is, and that I dont feel safe bringing him to school at this point.

Am I nuts? Is there something I should be doing that I am not seeing?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thank for all the responses. My husband is extra ticked, I am starting to relax. It just breaks my heart to think that something like this can and does happen to our children at school. To just answer some of the questions raised: He was playing with other children from what was reported, and this kid just walked up and did this. He had played with this older boy in the past. I believe this child is about 4 1/2. my son is about 1 year younger, and in fact in a different class. When it is "recess" they are allowed to play in the same area.

My thing is, whos to say this is not going to become an issue. Almost like the old adage, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. If this kid did this again to him, Id be blaming myself for a long long time.

As far as the past "mysterious" injuries: I was told by the center director that these boy had just recently moved up, and wouldnt you know- the same boy my son is always talking about at home- Tyler- is one of the boys who I was told was a newcomer who has already been labeled" rough" kid. Great, just my kids luck.

I am going to speak with the director about this, and I am concerned about my sons eye, since it is growing increasingly read along the area he was kicked in since the night has progressed- and he has not been touching it, because I havent stopped hugging or spending time with him since we came home!

I know I have to stand up for him, I am his only voice. I just want to know what my limits or expectations from this school should be- Do I have the right to demand this boy be tossed out of school? was there more to the incident that not even the teachers are aware of? I think that an almost 5 year old is aware of his actions, and the fact that he supposedly did it out of nowhere, is the scariest part- loose cannon.

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answers from San Antonio on

Wow. I wish they would kick the bad kids out. I am sick of nice kids having to switch classrooms. The bad kids parents should be inconvenienced.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

In my experience children that act like that in child care are asked to leave since they will eventually lose more children due to parents being unhappy. If this is a public school then there isn't much that can be done, school is required. I would be in that office on Monday telling them to pick, us or them and it be finished.

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answers from Honolulu on

If that had happened at MY children's Preschool... they would have.... KICKED out the child, from school. Never to return AND called the kids parents, that SAME day, filed a report and kicked the kids, out.

TAKE photos, of ALL of your son's injuries.
Show it to them.
Tell them, they better do something... because, your son was assaulted/bullied/hit/kicked/scratched and intimidated and is now scared of going to school.

Take care of it.
Stand behind your child.
Do it and don't take bullsh*t excuses, from them.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I would tell the School Director just that... that you do not feel safe, nor do you feel your child is safe, if he comes to that school. Ask her if there are any steps she is willing to take to make the school more safe, because it cannot be only your son getting attacked.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Something is going on with the child doing the bullying. Kids that young aren't malicious unless something bigger is happening in their lives. I'm sorry your son is getting the brunt end of this child's anger... Maybe the preschool should be taking a look into the childs parents/caregivers, and being more proactive about appropriate behavior for the boy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

At this age, it's not bullying. They're practically still babies, and have very little impulse control. I can still recall going to pick up my oldest from preschool one day, and she was at the back of the play yard with her best friend. All of a sudden, my daughter starts smacking her friend in the face! I mean, winding up from way back and walloping this poor kid! The teacher ran over as fast as she could and caught my daughter's arm and made her stop, but I couldn't believe my normally sweet and well-behaved kid had just done that! (For the record, my daughter, now 9, is THE most responsible kid you'll ever meet - seriously.) You know, sometimes preschoolers just snap. They're not bad kids, they're just not able to use words at times, and revert to caveman behavior instead.

Generally speaking, kids do get a warning and an incident note sent home for stuff like this. Most kids don't make a habit of it. If this kid continues to kick/hit other children, for sure he will be expelled from preschool, but chances are good that the preschool staff will watch him extra close and will really work with him on using words in the future.

Meanwhile, make sure your kiddo knows that if other kids are playing too rough, he needs to use words to ask them to stop, say he doesn't like that, etc, and if it doesn't stop, to tell his teacher. Kids need coaching around that, especially at this age. They're just learning how to be social, so it's really hard for them!

Good luck. He will be okay! This is pretty normal stuff for preschool.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You do not need this. Find him another preschool. Sign him up for Karate. They obviously cannot keep him safe. If the teacher is even saying its done purposely and she can't stop it you know that the othe kid is learning it at home some how. Either by the parents inability to punish or control their child or because the parents themselves are mean.

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answers from Phoenix on

I don't think the term "bullying" can be used with kids that age, personally. It's lack of effective (if any) discipline & good parenting, which makes for "bad" kids.

Regardless, I think I'd tell the director, point blank, that you won't send your kid back there unless those kids are gone. I know I wouldn't be knowingly sending my kid to a place where his teeth could get kicked out every day of the week, while the teachers chalk it up to "boys being boys". That kid should be kicked out, period.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Not sure if it's really bullying in the true sense the word but I would wonder how much good supervision there is while they are out on the play ground. Sounds more like kids who don't know how to play nice with other kids and they not being watched closely enough. But sometimes things happen so fast, like the kid kicking your son in the face, that it's almost impossible to stop it beforehand. From what you wrote, you don't know how the other injuries happened, you only know about 1 specific boy with the 1 specific incident.

My daughter has child care available at her preschool and sometimes she goes there after her preschool class in the morning. The outdoor playground has pea gravel laid down everywhere and a number of times when I picked up DD she said this boy or this kid or whomever threw rocks at her. I've been there sometimes to help with her class and when the kids are out there, it seems like there are certain kids that can't keep their hands off that damn pea gravel and they keep picking it up and tossing it everywhere. I end up telling them "Rocks stay on the ground!" and make them drop it the moment I see them picking it up, but I'm not really one of the teachers or day care supervisors and you can't see all the kids all at once because of the playground equipment. I told DD that she needs to tell the teacher right away if kids are throwing rocks at her and to tell the kids directly that they need to stop. Then one day when I picked her up, I was getting her in the car and she told me another girl there was STICKING ROCKS DOWN HER PANTS. Apparently she was just minding her own business and some other girl decided to take a handful of pea gravel and shove it down her pants in the back. I marched right back in and asked the woman in charge about it. She said another teacher caught the girl doing it and the girl was disciplined for it and had to go back inside and go in time-out for it. I told the woman that DD was also complaining about kids throwing rocks and that I wanted her to be supervised better so the minute any kids anywhere start doing anything with rocks, they are stopped immediately. Haven't heard of anything happening since.

By all means, I would talk with them, but remain calm - you can be assertive and get your point across without going in there with both guns ablazing. Let them know that you expect your child to be better supervised so hopefully these "episodes" are less likely to happen, otherwise you will be looking for care elsewhere. Maybe certain "problem kids" need to shadowed more.

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answers from Charlotte on

This isn't punishment, being given a warning and a report. He should have been put in time out, your son fawned on in front of him, and the kid made to say I'm sorry. Your son's teeth could have been knocked out, and this is really bad.

Someone has to "shadow" this child to protect other kids. If they don't do this, more of it will happen, and the s&%t will hit the fan.

A highly rated pre-school will do this. If they don't, remove your child.

So sorry!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I can't say for sure that this is 'bullying'. However, it does seem that if this goes unchecked, there is a bully in the making.

Sometimes, scrapes and bruises aren't noted by teachers because the child does not bring them to the attention of the teacher. I've known kids who will get a bloody knee and not even notice because they get up and 'shake it off' and get back on with playing.

If the center director stated that the kick was malicious, give them the benefit of the doubt that they are in communication with the family. She didn't make excuses and openly admitted it to you, so that's a good sign they are taking this seriously. You are right that confidentiality has to be held within the community of teachers, and you may not know what sort of work is being done to help this other child in their behavior. Some kids (and I really hate to say it) have parents who are incapable of setting boundaries. You or I-- had our kids done this--would have been furious with our kid. We would have probably made it abundantly clear that what they did was dangerous and wrong. There are other parents, though well-intentioned, who are simply paralyzed by their child's overtly dangerous and aggressive behavior. For whatever reason: they were yelled at by their parents and don't want to yell; they are scared their kids won't love them... who knows?.

It's also the case that, if this child has some documented behavioral issues, the daycare may have their hands tied in their ability to exclude immediately. Some daycares are required to have documentation of repeated incidences of an aggressive/violent nature before they expel a child, or they face legal action.

Stay in touch with the director on this. Schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss any unaddressed/unresolved concerns. Give your son clear directions to go immediately to the teacher if he feels upset or scared by this child. Obviously, sadly, he didn't have the chance to do that.

And yes, this child *should* most definitely be shadowed if he's being allowed to stay. That's the kid I would keep myself, whenever possible, at an arm's reach. He needs to be taught self-regulation and needs constant social coaching, from what you describe. If you aren't comfortable with the situation in the following months, maybe it's time to consider a new daycare.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Burlington on

"Warnings" are ineffective. Children need to be told the rules and consequences first. The rules and consequences need to be repeated to help them remember. If they do not follow the rules, an IMMEDIATE consequence needs to take effect so that they can understand the relationship between cause and effect. It seems that the school doesn't know what the consequences are. The bully will not have respect for the adult who gives out warnings. They are meaningless words.


As for your child's eye/face, since he was hit near his eye, I would bring him to the doctor. Such trauma could affect his sight. His bones could also be broken.

Best to you all!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Burlington on

You have the name, I would be speaking directly to this child's parents. Hopefully they will take it seriously, and correct the action swiftly (I know all of us would if we got this phone call). Is this is same boy in other incidents? If yes, bullying for sure. If not...points to more lack of overall supervision by the teachers possibly. My kids had some issues, and we role played at home about how to "use your playground voice" and say loudly, "that's NOT OK, you are hurting me" and telling a teacher. I also had them hang with friends that could work together, play together and tell one little girl (we'll call her the gorilla) that she was not being nice. The three kids at separate times felt empowered enough to tell her that they were not going to take it anymore. The confidence that they felt helped them in minor incidents since. My oldest was reporting bullying of another little one, so we spent time showing him how he could help her stand up to this other girl. I also let the bullied girl and her brother's dad know what was going on so he was aware. Yours sounds MUCH more serious. I would waste no time in following up with the parents of the kids who were purposely injuring your little guy. Good luck. I would definitely consider changing schools or reporting yours if they don't take your concerns more seriously.



answers from Boston on

I am so sorry to hear this happened and my heart breaks for you too!

I would have the same concerns, reactions, everything. You did the right thing with talking to the school and I would recommend following up a lot! I have a 3 1/2 yr old girl and a 14month old so I am starting to see toddlers turn into little kids and some of the personalities coming out. Bottom line, these teachers should know everything that still goes on in your son's day and rough play that ends in scrapes, bruises etc, should be stopped. I see you're from Wakefield, our kids are in a center in Watertown. I grew up in Stoneham so if you need any other preschool recommendations, please let me know.

You're a good mom!

T. Leeman



answers from Boston on

Take pictures and document everything. I am tired of living in a world where people are afraid to parent, or are just bad parents, and they allow their children to become so out of control that they feel the right to get physical with others. At this age, the argument that they have little impulse control is an absolute cop-out. They absolutely CAN control themselves, and when they don't they should face discipline to teach them that it is unacceptable. Make sure that the school understands that this is behaviour that you will not put up with. When your child is at their school, he is in their care and it is their responsibility to make sure that no harm comes to him...if that means extra aides on the playground, then so be it. Do not be afraid to let them know that if your son is again abused in any way, then you will take action, and confidentiality goes out the window. Make sure in your documentation that you name the boy who has been bullying your son, and how the school has handled it. If the situation is not handled properly, let both the parents and the school know that legal action can and will be taken. If it was just a question of shoving or pushing, you might be able to be more patient, but kicking in the face like that is on a completely different level and the school needs to aggressively deal with it immediately.



answers from Barnstable on

That is ridiculous. The teachers/director are not paying attention to the behavior building and need to be more aware. I would definitely ask for separation between the boys. My son was pushed by a child and he mentioned it the first day. I went right in and talked to his teachers. There is something wrong if this other child is acting out sooo much..there were incidents with other children. When the teacher downplayed it as an age thing, I went to the director. She listened and said they would pay extra attention. I asked that the teachers tell me every day if there were any incidents with my son. I wanted to be available for my son to share any feelings if something had happened, even though I knew he'd tell me... this really served another purpose. It put the teachers on the spot to PAY Attention. I thought about changing days. But after one week my son said the boy had stopped pushing, he even told me how the teachers handled it (he was 2.8). I spoke with the teachers and director and they said the other boy had stopped acting out physically. I hope it stops asap for your family. And that you get more support from the school. If not, change. The school needs to be more aware of group dynamics and if someone new doesn't fit... they have to fix that.


answers from New York on

I'm sorry, you must feel so scared to take your son to school!! I'm a little confused by your post as you kept using the word he. Are you saying the boy who kicked him in the face got a warning? He should be imediately referred to a counselor. Are you saying your son will be moved up to preschool 2? Forget about slowly integrating him, no one slowly integrates from one class to another sounds confusing for a young child, just move him up and tell him that's his new class, he'll be fine. If he is hurt again- get him OUT of that place they should be watching to make sure this does not happen!

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