Ask Dr. Phelps: Is my toddler being bullied at school?

Guest blog column by Dr. Pam Phelps is the owner/director of the Creative Center preschool and doctor of Early Education. Her posts answer parenting questions.

Parent:

Dear Dr. Phelps,

My 3-year-old daughter often comes home from school very upset and says one of her classmates is being mean to her. Specifically, she said the other child takes her toys, calls her bad names and hits her. Is it possible that she is making these things up to get attention? What should I tell her to do in these situations? Should I ask to have her moved to a different class?

— Bullied blue in Northeast Florida

Dr. Phelps:

Dear Blue,

Your child is probably not making this up but may be in the middle of it herself. You don’t want her to be a victim, so help her to learn strategies for dealing with conflicts and practice with her.

When the other child takes her toys, hits her, or calls her names she needs to say, “I don’t like it when you do that and I will find someone else to play with.” Teach her to be strong and walk away. If this is really happening the way your child describes, the other child sounds like a “bully” and 3 year olds learn that words are powerful and can be used to hurt others. Your daughter will face this kind of situation many times in her life and learning to stand strong and move away is the best tactic. It is good that she is telling you and you should have a conversation with the teacher in the classroom so that you know the entire story.

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