Now that your little one has started pre-school, they are more vulnerable to the dangers of the world. One of which is teasing.
Yes, teasing! We know it is usually brushed away by adults, seen as simply being a “children’s thing”. However, teasing can also be a form of bullying and should be taken seriously.
“It is the same, but carried out in lighter manner. The effects of instilling fear and breaking a person are still the same. Some tots may take teasing in a fun way but it should not be done constantly, too extremely or excessively,” says Daniel Koh, psychologist at Insights Mind Centre.
Because your little one is still growing, they might not know that they are being bullied through teasing, and might not speak to you about it as they are likely not to know how to express themselves.
But it will still affect them negatively and this can be seen from the way they behave. Look out if suddenly your child:
· Refuses to go school repeatedly.
· Suddenly shows changes in behaviour — changes in appetite and sleep patterns, an increase in bedwetting and nightmares.
· Is unusually quiet and easily frightened.
· Suddenly talks about death or dying.
· Gets irritable or easily angered or upset.
· Withdraws socially.
· Has difficulty in concentrating — whether in school, with friends or family.
Click next to find out how to help your little one …
If your child is showing these symptoms, there is a high chance that he is being teased in school. Although your natural instinct might be to rush to the school and solve this for them, you shouldn’t.
“Do not be aggressive and impulsive. This will make the child avoid talking to you because they will consider your behaviour worse than the teasing,” advises Koh.
“It is important that you don’t create a scene in the school and let everyone know that they are being teased. It will only embarrass them, and lead to anger and further emotional issues.”
Instead, sit down with your little one and explain the situation to them. Make sure they understand that the teasing is not in any way their fault. Teach them the importance of seeking help from the proper adult figures — such as staying near the teacher, so that they can address the situation.
Another way to help your little one is to discuss with them different ways of dealing with the teasing. Then, help them narrow down the list to the top few that they feel the most comfortable with and that they can and will carry out. This will not only help your little one stand up for themselves — a good lesson for the future — but it will also help him feel confident, empowered and improve his self-esteem to fight their own battle.
Also, once you are calm, work together with their teacher. School teachers are trained to create a safe and stress-free environment for their students.
“Schools work closely with parents of bullies and victims. We will discuss both bullying in general and concerns regarding specific students and take immediate action when necessary,” says Sherrie Roch, preschool teacher at The Thinking Box@Tanglin.
It is best to set up an appointment with their teacher to address this issue as soon as you know about it. As teachers have to deal with a lot of students, the appointment will give the issue the attention it needs and will be taken more seriously. This might also help put a stop to the bullying and you will also be assured that a responsible adult is looking out for them.
But the best way you can help your little one is by being there, listening and assuring them, instead of scolding them, putting them down and brushing their fears and concerns away.
Daniel Koh is a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre
Sherrie Roch is an educator at The Thinking Box @Tanglin