M. - Need Help with 4Yr Old Bullying Problem

Updated on November 29, 2013
M.M. asks from Sunnyvale, CA
15 answers

One of the girls in my daughter's pre-school class tends to bully her by excluding her from the group activities whenever she can. Now this bully is best friends with another little kid who is good friends with my daughter too. When the bully is not present, my daughter has a good time with her. However, in most of the group activity like birthday party or play dates, she is. And that causes my daughter to be left out. I was looking for some insights on how to handle the situation. Should I try to direct my daughter away from her friend (who is v nice and has stopped the bullying once) and encourage her to make otherr friends in the peschool? Would setting up more play dates to help them get closer be better approach?
Update: Thanks everyone. Unfortunely I am not using the term bullying loosely. Bullying is intentional action to hurt another and can take form of social exclusion. The little girl does not just stop my daughter from joining her at play. She calls to my daughter from far to tell her not to come near her. she stops her from joining other groups playing near her too. She will stop immediately if she sees an adult near by whic shows she is aware that her action are not right. Sadly, that a reality. Bullying is in preschool.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone who responded. I spoke to the teacher and principal now. they are keeping a close watch on the kids. They will also get the bully's parents involved as well as have one-on-one chat with her when these event occurs. Since there was some discussion in the forum about whether above is "bullying" or usual preschooler behaviour, the consensus from the professionals (principal, school counseller) to whom I spoke to is that it is bullying. Usually a preschooler would not persistently single out another child to exclude him/her from activities.

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

Um, where is the teacher?
Why isn't she supervising and redirecting this little girl who at four is still LEARNING, not bullying?
If no one is teaching her that her behavior is wrong then how is the girl supposed to know any better?
You need to be talking to the teachers about this, and you need to understand that bossy, aggressive behavior in four year old's is NOT the same as bullying. Pick up a book on child development and educate yourself on how young children behave and learn.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Please stop calling the little girl a bully. She is 4. This is how 4 year olds behave. Groups of 3 don't work. Excluding someone isn't bullying.

You should encourage other friendships.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Do not penalize the one friend by "guiding" your daughter away from her. That will make this girl feel that your child is the one doing the excluding. Can you see that? You would also confuse your own child who will wonder why she should stay away from someone who is nice to her. It seems strange to penalize a girl who is simply able to get along with a couple of very different kids.

Also, please take care how you toss the world "bully" around. It is greatly overused these days. Please talk to the preschool teachers and you will find that what you describe is extremely typical behavior for kids this age; it's not bullying. These are very young children who are only starting to navigate the idea of friendship and who are not yet very good at sharing, in many cases. Some kids will latch onto a "best friend" or a couple of them and then will insist to others, "You can't play with me" or "You can't play with MY friend" or they'll pull their best buddy away to play "just with me." These kids also tend to change their tune -- next week, your daughter could be the one who is the chosen best friend. But this isn't bullying and it's typical.

Have you talked with the teachers and preschool director about this and have you observed the classroom dynamics for yourself? If the preschool is good at teaching sharing and does not let the one girl rule the roost, you're fine. If not, ask them why and ask what specifically they do to ensure everyone's included. But please don't label a kid a "bully" this early when she's doing something that's unpleasant but normal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

No you really are misusing the term bullying. Bullying is ongoing and it is pervasive. One girl not playing with her is not bullying because it is not pervasive. Your daughter's friend has decided that she would rather be friends with the other girl, not your daughter unless your daughter is the only one to play with.

So your daughter needs to make new friends or actual friends because these girls are not bullies, they are just not your daughter's friends. You seem to think that because your daughter likes this girl they should be friends, that is wrong and causing most of your issues.

When any of my kids said so and so don't want to play with me I told them it sounds like they don't want to be friends, play with someone else, and moving on. I didn't call the children bullies for not being over the moon with my kids.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Encourage all types of friendships. The person you are trying to direct her away from could be her best friend. Let your daughter see potential friends for what they are and choose her own friends. You will not be there in K and elementary school through grade 12 to negotiate her friendships. She is learning now.

What your daughter is experiencing is normal 4 yr old behavior and how they are learning to be friends. Some friends are not going to be all sweet and nice and others can be a little more difficult because they are ALL learning.

Example... when our daughter was younger, she did socialize with those who were sweet as pie and some who weren't so sweet. However, when children are together and work on these social relationships, it is like rough rocks that keep rubbing against each other that do eventually become smooth.

The "becoming smooth" process is not typically bullying behavior. What you have described is not bullying behavior. You have described normal 4 yr olds learning how to get along and it is not always easy.

Please don't use the term bully so loosely as it is so over used and when it is over used the way it is, people will stop responding and then someone who is truly bullied will not get the help needed.

It is like crying wolf all the time and then it is too late when the real wolf is there.

Best wishes..

ETA: Per your SWH, I am sorry but I still disagree with your theory that this is bullying. Your daughter is in a social situation learning how to deal with all kinds of children and someday it will mean dealing with adults.

I feel sorry for your daughter that you have already labeled her as a victim in preschool. Please don't do that to her. She needs you to be her mentor to guide her through situations that are not so much fun so she can grow into a strong woman vs being the poor pitiful me. You don't run to the principal because someone said something mean to your child. IF this other child is so bad, then the school will deal with her but you focus on your daughter growing up to be a strong person. You can help her be strong or you can label her victim and she'll play that role all of her life and not get very far.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I'm so sorry to see you going through this- it really hurts your heart to see your child excluded. I agree with Mamazita. Where is the teacher? She should be re-directing behavior and working with the kids on social behaviors.

Having said that, you may want to help her find other groups to become involved with so that she know that pre-school is not the extent of her social circle. Does she like to dance? Swim? Artwork? Find some classes (many parks and rec departments offer classes at very reasonable prices) and let her practice her friendship-making skills with a variety of children.

I think this will help boost her confidence and learn how to stand up to kids like the one you describe.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

Although this is hard to hear what your daughter is dealing with, it is not bullying. I had a "friend" like this, where one week she would be nice to me, and be mean to this certain girl, then the next week be nice to that certain girl and be mean to me. It went on 3-5 grade. I hated it, but it wasn't bullying. I hope she gets some good friends, but this just seems like stuff some little girls do. It's irritating and annoying, and I feel for your daughter. Blessings!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

This is not bullying. This is typical little girl stuff. Get used to it. This has been going on for years and years. Since she is only four you have control,over who she plays with. Find another friend.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

They all need to play with a variety of friends.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Have you talked to the teacher about this behavior? Have you talked to the girl's M. about it? You should. The only way the girl is going to stop doing it is by an adult telling her to stop and giving her a consequence if she doesn't. You should make it clear to the adults that she tries to hide the fact that she's doing it.

I do think you should get other playdates for her. I hope this girl doesn't end up in your daughter's kinder class...

By the way, most 4 year olds DON'T call out to other kids not to come near them or tell them they can't join other groups. What kind of 4 year olds do some of these posters know, that they would say this is normal of a 4 year old? NOT true.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I am sorry but I disagree with you. Social exclusion in preschool is not 'bullying". It is a normal group dynamic that happens when young children first start interacting in groups, while they are learning the ropes of social interaction.

Now, what is happening to your daughter is normal, but that doesn't mean that it should not be addressed. If your child is enrolled in a pre-school with competent teachers I would talk to her teacher first. Her teacher can implement classroom management strategies that counteract the dynamic that is going on and they can also make appropriate social behavior a topic of their teaching.

So take a deep breath. It is understandable to get upset when your child's feelings are being hurt - but if you start labeling your child as a "victim" now, chances increase that she will become an actual victim down the road. Talk to her teacher and together come up with a strategy to counteract what is going on, without calling out out the other girl or your daughter specifically. A good early childhood teacher will also be able to help you find strategies to increase your daughters ability to handle such conflicts herself.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

These kids are 4? If they were older I wouldn't interfere, but at 4 I would say something to the other little girl, personally. Or the parent. Or both. Either, "Hey, Lulabelle, please do not be rude to my daughter like that. That is not a nice way to play, you don't hurt people's feelings." or "Hey Ms. Mother of Spoiled Brat, I've noticed Lulabelle likes to encourage Little Debbie to exclude my daughter such as ________(give specific examples of things you have seen with own eyes, not just hearsay). How can we work this out, she's really having her feelings hurt."

What's the worst that could happen? Ms MOSB argues with you? So what? Or/Also, you should speak with teacher. If you don't want to confront anyone, yes, tell your daughter to ignore them both and make other friends because "We don't play with kids who are acting mean".

This is the age where kids NEED adult interference about how to ignore, how to negotiate, how to not alienate people, how to not be mean, etc....I disagree that it's "normal" even though kids do act that way. The daycare my oldest went to did NOT allow 4 year olds to be mean and leave each other out. There was a time out space and a whole system in place to keep the kids mingling and kind. I would NEVER let any of my 4 year olds behave that way. I don't see why other parents should. Of course when they're OLDER (1st, 2nd grade) you should let them handle it themselves, and they'll know how to if you help now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Have you tried talking to the parents of the bully?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Hi. I know I am late. I would like to add a different perspective perhaps. If it were my daughter...I would educate her that she can choose who she wants to play with. i would empower her that she has a choice. And it is hers. If some children are not acting like a friend, she can find someone else to play with.

I am on purpose not leaning into the discussion of bullying. Whether or not if it is or not....I think we as parents must teach our children that they are in charge of their lives....Yes, you can help by encouraging play dates with a variety of children so that there is someone always to play with. And/or encourage her to reach out to new children.

In our kinder...we also try to do activities with children from class....like sports or marital arts. the girls also do these as well as dance....

I do agree that whatever is happening...please don't let her be a victim. Anytime anywhere. ....She is in control of her life. Period. We cannot control others all of the time. only how we react.

HTH jilly


answers from Houston on

Bullying can indeed happen at age 4.

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