How to handle this? Preschool behavior between kids. Kids complaining to me about mine. - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-23-2011, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Today one of my daughter's pschool classmates came up to me and said: "Your daughter is mean to me."

 

I bit my tongue and tried to think really fast on how to handle that appropriately. I came up with "Talk to the teachers and work it out."

 

The truth is, the two of them are having issues with each other and with other kids. The teachers have told me it was all developmentally normal stuff and not to worry. (I had to ask them, they didn't tell me, it was DD telling me so-and-so pushed me, I wasn't sharing, I pushed whoever etc...)

 

My daughter is the youngest in the mixed age class but almost the tallest/biggest. She is not as socially facile as the little girl who spoke to me today (she is quite a bit older).

 

Watching DD on the playground and in playgroup, she's no bully and in fact is often bullied to the point where I have to step in. She can push, something she's picked up from pschool and we've been clear that is not acceptable.

 

Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to handle the dynamic. I want to let the teachers know the girl approached me and what my response was.

 

Do you think there's anything else I should be doing? With the pschool? With DD?

 

We went to this girl's bday party and it was Lord of the Flies chaos. Lots of hitting, pushing, pulling etc... I was the only parent trying to supervise the kids primarily because my daughter kept getting hurt. She essentially cried for 2 hours and I finally just left. I couldn't hack it and I'm an adult.

 

That bday party seems to have fed into this current situation.

 

My gut reaction is to tell DD to stay away from the girl and not play with her. My feeling is she's a bit of a bully and so far ahead of my DD developmentally that DD will pay a high price for continuing to engage, as she will run circles around DD.

 

I don't know. Maybe it's all innocent and simple but I smell bullying.

 

Give me your advice. I go back to pschool in an hour.

 

Sorry if this meandered, I'm trying to think my way through it all. Pschool is hard! We've already dealt with clique 'you're not my friend anymore' stuff with the girls! DD is 3 in a 3-4-5 class!

 

V


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Old 03-23-2011, 08:11 AM
 
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One of the ways bullies will bully is by trying to turn the bullied kids' parents against them by tattling on them.  In case that's what's going on, I would make it clear to any children who tell on your dd to you that you aren't turning against your dd, and anything you say to your dd should be said at home away from them so it can't be used against her.  Also, personally I would schedule time to talk to the preschool teachers about the potential bullying going on, and to talk about what this child said to you, and to find out from the teachers if your child has any legitimate problems relating with the other children.  I woudn't worry too much about it, but it is good to get on top of stuff like this before it goes too far.

 

Good luck!

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Old 03-23-2011, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ah yes. That makes sense. She was looking for me to yell at DD or something. Instead I was pretty neutral.

 

I am now wondering if I made a mistake to put her in a mixed age class. DD is not perfect but she hangs back, is ripe for following stronger leaders and is so much younger than the other kids---she was still 2 when school started.

 

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Old 03-23-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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I would just do active listening with neutral comments. Something like "oh, so you and dd had a hard time playing today?"

I really couldn't get all excited about the a opinion of a small child, and I use the word"bully" very sparingly. These are really little kids attempting to figure out how to relate to each other.

They are all really, really little and very new to friendship.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 03-23-2011, 02:32 PM
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During one parent help times one of my  5 year old DD's preschool classmates told me my DD couldn't play in the tent " because she was too big" and she meant not skinny. She had just finished telling my DD, who went to the other tent to play. I said that was a rude reason but they could say there wasn't room for any more people. About half of the girls in her class have been engaging in social drama. My DD gave up on them and started playing with the boys almost exclusively several weeks into the school year.

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Old 03-23-2011, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The preschool said that about 4 "certain personalities" start with the clique-y girl stuff and that seems to be the case. They also said DD was the youngest and not as socially facile, acknowledging that this was part of the dynamic.

 

I asked if I made a mistake to put her in a mixed age and they said no, which I'm kind of on the fence still. They said there aren't any issues in class. That the kids sometimes fixate on something that happened once and bring it up over and over. The preschool feels things are fine, I feel like I shouldn't be hearing the things I'm hearing from the kids and I don't believe this stuff comes out of nowhere, but we'll see.

 

Right now I question the pschool's mgmt of things. Particularly if this girl keeps complaining to me or I keep hearing stories from DD.


My DD has been consistently targeted since January-- it has been an ongoing issue with this girl and the drama is not ramping down it's ramping up. DD is easy pickings because she is nowhere near a 4 or 5yo in social skills yet. 

 

Next step is to be a parent volunteer so I can observe first hand.

 

This is the second conversation with them I've had since the New Year. Something is not right.

 

V

 


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Old 03-23-2011, 04:37 PM
 
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I take my kids' opinons very seriously, and you can try to avoid labelling kids, but on the other hand you have to recognize what's going on for the sake of the child who is targeted.  This is the age when this stuff starts.  It doesn't mean these girls will continue to do this, and that they are destined to be bullies for life, but this is bullying behavior.  To ignore the behavior and avoid calling it what it is doesn't help the OP's daughter at all.  She shouldn't have to suffer through it.
 

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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I would just do active listening with neutral comments. Something like "oh, so you and dd had a hard time playing today?"

I really couldn't get all excited about the a opinion of a small child, and I use the word"bully" very sparingly. These are really little kids attempting to figure out how to relate to each other.

They are all really, really little and very new to friendship.


 

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Old 03-23-2011, 06:32 PM
 
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I do take my own childrens opinions seriouly, but not all other children. The OPer is upset about something a small child said to her.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 03-23-2011, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I take my kids' opinons very seriously, and you can try to avoid labelling kids, but on the other hand you have to recognize what's going on for the sake of the child who is targeted.  This is the age when this stuff starts.  It doesn't mean these girls will continue to do this, and that they are destined to be bullies for life, but this is bullying behavior.  To ignore the behavior and avoid calling it what it is doesn't help the OP's daughter at all.  She shouldn't have to suffer through it.
 

 

 

Thank you mamazee. My DD is vulnerable in this situation. I don't like labeling either, but bullying is bullying. I am learning that 4 is much more sophisticated than I thought it was. Yes they are still so little, but they also know how to push buttons. Like you said, maybe she'll grow out of it or beyond it, but it won't be because the people around her rolled over and took it without complaint. There are ways to handle this that help everyone to be their best.

 

But like I said, this is an ongoing dynamic and DD has had a hard time the last few months. I haven't been putting it all together until just now and I've been chalking it up as normal but you know what really sucks? Trying to help a three year old toddler deal with being shut of a clique led by this other girl who is dictating who will and won't be friends. A three year old who doesn't have any understanding of that kind of behavior. Who is bewildered and hurt because for her, developmentally, everyone is her friend.

 

I begin to see the pitfalls of mixed age preschool, up close and personal.

 

V

 

 

 


 

 



 


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Old 03-23-2011, 07:09 PM
 
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Sad situation.  My children are in multi-age classrooms, too (ages 3-6, Montessori) and I have NEVER seen what you have described.  Not to say that it doesn't happen but this is my fourth year as a parent with a child in a multi-age classroom.  I wonder if it has less to do with the children and more to do with adult supervision.  I know that the behavior you describe would not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form at my children's school.  The older children pride themselves on taking care of the younger children.  My DS has told me stories about helping the younger kids and it is something very much taught and modeled in the classroom. 

 

If I were you, I would have a serious conversation with the teachers and director of the school.   


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Old 03-23-2011, 08:32 PM
 
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in the main stream education environments I've been familiar with (no true multi-age classes, etc.) a 3 year age span for the kids would never even be considered.  Through private daycare/preschool, public preschool, and now public charter school, the age range is pretty much always the standard one year (plus or minus).  Developmentally ,it seems totally infeasible for 3 year olds and 5 year olds to play/interact/learn/behave in ways that work well together throughout a whole day.  In a school setting that is really, really set up for this (like Montessori?) I can see it working if the teachers and parents are all invested in that type of setting and educated about and able to understand the dynamics and challenges.  Otherwise, it seems like a set up for some real problems... my daughter is so different now at 5.5 than she was at 3-- it is hard to imagine that she'd be able to have really benefitted from such a wide age range at either end of the range, especially.

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Old 03-23-2011, 08:48 PM
 
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My kids go to a mixed age school where Homerooms consist of kids ranging from 5 to 18. Exclusionary play is not allowed. There is no "you can't pay with us".

Some schools don't have this policy. If your dd is routinely excluded and the teachers are fine with that, then the school isn't a good match for her. If there are social problems that the teachers are helping the kids work through, that is a very different situation.

Because most children this age have problems being consistently kind, sometimes push, sometimes fail to share, ect, I think labeling another child as a bully is extreme. At the same time, it's leading you think of your child as a victim, which isn't helpful to her.

What are the teachers doing to help the kids learn to get along?

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 03-23-2011, 09:39 PM
 
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I don't think it has much to do with the mixed age classroom, really.  I have been a teacher of a K/1 classroom, and because of how birthdays fall, had an age range of between 4 and almost 8.  My DS was in a traditional preschool where children of the same age were in one class (the "3s" class, etc) and has been in a Montessori class with children ranging from 2.5 to 6 years old.  All of those settings have worked out well for me as a teacher and for DS's classes.  I think it has much, much more to do with the limits and expectations set by the teachers.  At the traditional preschool my DS attended, towards the middle of the 4 year old year, some of the girls started doing some of the "mean" stuff and the teachers made it a priority to change that dynamic.  It hadn't even gone as far as you are describing with tattling to parents - it was more like a few girls trying to exclude others from play.  The teachers actively watched for it, intervened quickly, made it clear that it wasn't tolerated, modeled different behavior, etc.  It never became a big part of the class dynamic, thankfully, mainly because the teachers were really on top of it.  

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Old 03-23-2011, 10:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The teachers are "trying". What they are "trying" I'm not really sure.

 

I would appreciate it if people could read the thread as some responses don't reflect the information I've given. This is an ongoing situation that is continuing. Today was not isolated, there is a history and context. For review

 

-Bad bday party interaction with this girl. She was persistently physically aggressive with DD and I had to separate them (I didn't share that detail earlier, I should have.).

-Exclusionary cliques at school where this girl and other girls are not DD's friends,  I don't know how deep this goes, but there are at least 3 girls involved.

-Aggression at preschool which started after the birthday party and seems to have gone both ways, although I thought it had faded away.

-Seeking me out to tattle on my DD

 

And we can go into thread drift on the bullying thing and labeling but that isn't really helping. It would be more helpful if we could not get so hung up on the precision of vocabulary as I try to articulate the situation to the best of my ability.  Taking me to task for 'labeling' is a distraction that inhibits problem solving.

 

I spoke to my Aunt who works in the public school system and she thinks it's a supervision problem. Zeroing in on the fact that I am bringing it up and they aren't. Why is it such a mystery to the preschool?

 

I will talk to DD tomorrow and see if I can suss out how she feels about school. She has been exhibiting anxiety about going that I was not connecting to this.

 

And age appropriate doesn't mean acceptable. I don't let DD bite people but that is developmentally normal. This young lady has a lot of social influence and her choices on how to use it are not acceptable even if they are developmentally normal. Even if it's not bullying by other people's definition. It is behavior that needs to be addressed and should not be left unchecked.

 

Yes, 3 to 5 is a big gap. I can really see that now. Not earlier in the year, but now, definitely so. DD has always been with older kids and I thought she did better than being with her age peers but maybe I was wrong. Back when I signed her up for school, her age peers were all very aggressive and DD was not. She was constantly being hit and even knocked and pinned to the floor by her peers at playdates (which I was able to intervene as I was there) that didn't happen with the older neighbor kids so I thought multi age was a good idea. Now her peers are past that stage, it might work better for her.

 

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Old 03-24-2011, 10:35 AM
 
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The teachers are "trying". What they are "trying" I'm not really sure.

 

I'd ask. I'd either schedule a meeting a phone call. I wouldn't handle by just mentioning it during pick up or drop off. I'd want a real meeting (but with small kids in tow, a phone call might be easier for you)

 

-Bad bday party interaction with this girl. She was persistently physically aggressive with DD and I had to separate them (I didn't share that detail earlier, I should have.).

 

I would avoid seeing the child outside of school, but you really can't fault the teachers for what happens outside of school. The party sounds like a nightmare. 

 

-Exclusionary cliques at school where this girl and other girls are not DD's friends,  I don't know how deep this goes, but there are at least 3 girls involved.

 

This is what I would be talking to the teacher(s) about. What is the schools policy? How do they enforce it? Is the school a good match for your child? I wouldn't pull a child from a school that worked for them over the bad behavior of one child, but if you are the staff are on very different wave lengths about what is acceptable and what isn't, and how to deal with unacceptable behavior, then may be a different situation would be a better fit.

 

 

-Aggression at preschool which started after the birthday party and seems to have gone both ways, although I thought it had faded away.

 

Do you mean that both girls are a bit aggressive at times and together they push each other buttons? It was bad for awhile, got better, but is now worse again? How long ago was the party? If it got better before, then is it possible it will get better again?

 

Is it possible that what ever the teacher's did last time worked?

 

-Seeking me out to tattle on my DD

 

This is what you started your OP with, and it something I would just let roll off.  Kids tell me all kinds of things all the time. Sometimes, they just want to be heard. Sometimes, they make poor word choices. I wouldn't read anything sinister into the comment.  I'd just roll my eyes and move on.

 

 It is behavior that needs to be addressed and should not be left unchecked.

 

I agree. I would schedule a meeting with the teacher(s) to find out what is being done. It sounds like a frustrating experience.

 


 

 


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Old 03-24-2011, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay I actually ran into another mom today from pschool and it is not my DD, this other child has a reputation I guess.

 

The bday party was the trigger event, everything has stemmed from there. It was a nightmare. I am almost 40 and I was traumatized. We have not been to a bday party since. If I don't know you and love you like a sibling, I'm not accepting any invites to your kid's party. Sorry. Not enough alcohol in the world for that.

 

So the mom is more experienced than I am (more kids, older kids, been at the school for a while, leads the board of parents as opposed to me with one kid, first year of pschool and too sick to do anything but drop my kid off ) so she suggested that I talk to a specific teacher who might be more helpful in resolving the conflict.  She feels any pushing on DD's part is probably defensive.

 

We'll see.

 

If anything noteworthy happens, I'll update.

 

V


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Old 03-24-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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Try to be gentle with your thoughts about this other child, too.  Sometimes children start bullying, especially when it starts so young, because they feel out of control in some way and are trying to get control any way they can.  The kids I've seen start with this behavior early had problems such as death of a parent, really harsh punishments at home, bitter divorce between parents, etc.

 

But I hope things work out for your dd!

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Old 03-24-2011, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not unsympathetic to the other child, but there's not a lot I can do for her. She sounds like she has amazing leadership qualities and is probably very bright and I am thinking her parents probably have their hands full. Hopefully the teachers have the skills to focus that quality in a positive direction.

 

 

V


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Old 03-24-2011, 08:40 PM
 
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I've seen aggressive behavior like that in young kids too (actually it's happen to DD on the playground a few times), I'll leave off the term bullying for now just to avoid that can of worms. winky.gif  I think this REALLY is a supervision problem and NOT something to do with a multi-age environment.  DD just started a Montessori preschool this week and I was in the classroom Mon-Weds with her the entire time during an adaptation period.  During that time they specifically told me not to interact act with her much (obviously if she came over I'd talk to her but more that they would handle discipline, care etc).  It was a great experience for me because I could see first hand how they dealt with conflicts between kids, name calling etc. 

 

They really got on top of ANY name calling, ANY conflicts immediately.  They would distract the children or separate the children immediately and if some kids just don't play well together they rotate them out of the room so they're not there at the same time.  Let me tell you, it works.  One thing that I noticed immediately at DD's school is that older kids are VERY respectful of younger kids (the school goes from 0-9th grade) and they' come by to play with them, help them out and talk to them.  If you're seeing ageism there than that's not a healthy multi-age environment and that would be a big red flag to me. 

 

Now maybe it's just this girl but it seems the teachers should be addressing this head-on.  Like you said hitting is completely age appropriate for DD but that doesn't mean we let her hit.  Definitely go in and try and observe the classroom and how the teachers handle it.  That seems like a good idea. 

 

Your talk with the more experience parent seems to be a good sign and hopefully they will address this problem.  Can you talk to her again and try and see how the school normally handles issues like this? This can't be something too shocking, like I said, I've seen this on the playground a few times before with kids around that age so they have to deal with this fairly often.... like a PP mentioned I really wonder where this behavior is coming from and if there is something deeper going on with this little girl? 

 

As for the tattling, I think you've handled that well.  I've had that happened before (normally it was a much older kid that assumed DD was older because of her height and expected her to act accordingly).  I normally would just remind the kid of DD's age and tell them that they need to keep that in mind when playing with her.

 

 

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