My daughter Delilah, started preschool this year and I am in shock at the degree of bullying in this day and age. When I was growing up I was also a victim of bullying; but in preschool, the extent of it might have been just name calling like "stinky head" or "monkey brain" and other very silly things. Needless to say, I was in utter shock when my mother (who drops off Delilah in the mornings) came home with a story about a bully in Delilah's class. For the sake of anonymity, I will call the bully, Kim.
One morning, as I was getting Delilah dressed for school, she asked if she was wearing a dress. When I told her yes, she got very excited and said "Yay! Kim is going to be so happy that I'm wearing a dress and she's going to be nice to me! Kim only likes me when I'm wearing a dress." (What the #&*!!... was my internal reaction) So I calmed down and explained to her that it doesn't matter what Kim thinks and that people like Kim are called bullies and a bully is someone who isn't a true friend and... yada yada yada...
That same morning when my mom dropped Delilah off, she noticed that the first thing Delilah (and another girl does) is run to show Kim that they are wearing a dress. So after looking Delilah up and down, Kim smugly says...(and here's the slap-in-the-face...) "you should have worn jeans".
So, now simple name calling has evolved into reverse-psychology bullying!
After a recent discussion with the teacher, it appears that Kim is actually notorious in the classroom for being a "mean girl". Her mother is aware of the situation and is having a hard time teaching her manners and proper ways to behave. I feel bad for Kim's mom as the thought of being the parent of a bully must be a tough position. However, being the parent of a little girl who is being bullied isn't any better! And the fear of what may come in the future is causing me to do everything in my power to prevent this situation from getting any worse.
With the help of my local librarian, I have found the following age appropriate books to be helpful in teaching my daughter the importance of anti-bullying, true friendship, kindness and self esteem.*
I used the book, Maisy Goes To Preschool to teach Delilah what should happen in school and what shouldn't - bullying. I'm The Best, is good to teach that although it is great to like yourself for who you are, it is NOT good to brag about it.
Building self-esteem in my children through praise and commendation is important to me but I realize it is more important to teach them that TRUE self-confidence comes from honing their talents and learning things, not from being told that they're great just because they exist. The first picture in this post is my children holding books that I had them make together. I entitled the books, I Like You I Like Me. Inside, they drew pictures of what they like about themselves and what they like about their friends, even Kim.
Thanks for reading this lengthy post and I'd love it if you could recommend any other books by leaving a comment.
*The January 2013 Awake! magazine also has a helpful article called, Raising Considerate Children in a Me-First World