Tag Archives: bully

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.


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.

“Just Ignore It” Doesn’t Work as a Solution to Bullying

Guest post by North Florida mother of a high-school girl and middle-school boy. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. 

*click image for full size* Facebook post bullying the second girl who left the clique. The monkey comments stemmed from the girl standing next to a tree in her profile photo.

At first I adored my daughter’s new friend. She was (and still is) bubbly and vivacious. She was the queen bee of a group of four 8th graders who were inseparable. They appeared to love life: having fun at school, sunbathing and shopping on the weekends, and racking up minutes via endless text chats. 

By the end of 8th grade I had figured out that she was also a bully. 

My daughter left the clique when the girls started bullying more students. Her departure only fueled the girls’ meanness. They called her “ugly” and “ginger” (slang term for persons with red hair) in front of her peers and upperclassmen. They spread rumors about her, making it very difficult for her to make new friends. They edited her out of photos on Facebook and posted mean things on her wall, which intensified as other students joined in – the kids weren’t afraid to attack her because a computer screen blocked them from actual confrontation. 

What had gone wrong and what could I do? My heart ached for my daughter. 

Eventually, another girl was “ejected” from the original four and began the same painful path my daughter had traveled. Facebook posts calling her a “monkey,” others depicting her in sexual situations and worse were met with comments and likes from other students at a fast and furious pace. Enough was enough – I took action. 

The second girl’s mother and I explained to the school principal that this was pervasive bullying, especially on social media. We were desperate for help and I will be forever thankful that he spoke to the girls and their parents. His authoritative position helped stop the bullying. 

It is always wise to be aware of your child’s social media world. Even the savviest of kids can’t take care of things on their own and it is more than okay to bring in reinforcements. 


Here are some tips from the free DCF and Ounce of Prevention Parenting Resource Guide e-book

Prevent bullying:

  • Don’t assume your child knows how to handle every social situation. Talk to your child about not teasing or hurting other children
  • Get to know all your child’s friends and friends’ parents.
  • Monitor your child’s online activity. 

Signs your child may be being bullied:

  • Torn articles of clothing or missing belongings
  • Fear of going to school or participating in organized activities
  • Anxious or depressed when returning home from school
  • Complains of illness such as stomach aches 

What to do if your child is being bullied:

  • Save all evidence of cyber bullying and report it to your website moderator, cell phone service provider, school officials or law enforcement officer.
  • Don’t blame your child for provoking the situation; this can make the child feel further victimized and may close the lines of communication.
  • Teach your child how to step away from the bullying situations instead of fighting back, which may make matters worse.