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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things I Didn't Think I'd Have to Deal With Yet

When you think about becoming a parent you consider sleepless nights, breastfeeding, babyproofing the house and possibly even what it might be like to have a teenager but what you probably don't think about is dealing with things like bullying and peer pressure when your child is still in preschool.

These are two big issues we have had with Lizzie lately, much to our surprise.  There is actually a common factor between the two as well, another little girl (let's call her C) at Lizzie's school who is rather mean and has caused Lizzie to be worried about what this girl thinks. 

Case in point, when I get Lizzie ready for school in the morning she won't wear certain clothing if she thinks C won't like it (of course these days it also has to have a twirl factor...she is such a little girlie girl).  While Lizzie is no longer in C's class they still see each other in the morning when all the kids are together and on the playground.  If Lizzie and C are playing together and other kid tries to play with them C won't let them.  C will tell the other girls that their clothing smells or she doesn't like it or something like that.  Clearly very mean and clearly affecting my daughter and her decisions.

I certainly don't want to blame C for everything my daughter does as she has to take responsibility for her own actions but I don't think she is a very good influence.  This leads us to the second problem, bullying.  You might think Lizzie is being bullied by C (which she might be) but that isn't it, Lizzie was actually being the bully.  She was hitting, spitting at people, calling them stupid and generally being a mean girl.  So mean, in fact, that kids were refusing to go out on the playground when she was there and she actually sent another girl home crying.

We were horrified!  You always hear about teaching your child how to deal with bullying but you never hear about what to do if you child is a bully.  I know some parents actually encourage this behavior but we definitely don't.  I found a great article on 4 year old bullies with a lot of great tips so we sprang in to action to try and nip this problem in the bud.  In conjunction with her teacher at school who gives us a report at the end of each day we implemented the following:
  • A reward system (using iReward on my iPad) - her ultimate goal is a hamster for 300 stars
  • Less TV (1/2 hour in the AM and a 1/2 hour in the PM)
  • More 1:1 time with Mommy and Daddy (this was a plan I already had put in to action, each child gets 4 months out the year and during that month they get 1:1 time with each parent)
  • Dinner time at the kitchen table with family (unfortunately it's mostly me and the twins, Greg doesn't get home until 6:45 pm)
  • Earlier bed time (this one is challenging when she naps at school)
  • Less artificial colors and flavors (already something I was striving for)
  • Using a stress ball at school when she is feeling frustrated or angry
It's the last bullet point that I think was the most effective.  Everything else on the list is great and much I had wanted to do anyway.  She has only used the ball once but somehow knowing it is there has given her peace of mind.  She has also been instructed that when C is mean to the other kids she is supposed to walk away and play with the other kids (this has also worked well).

I am happy to report that since we implemented this plan we have not had a bad day at school (she had a bad day with Nana but I can handle that) AND she has realized on her own that perhaps C isn't the best person to be hanging out with at school.  I am very proud of her and she might even get that hamster before she reaches 300 stars!

1 comment:

Carrie27 said...

I am surprised at the things little kids can do at such a young age. I definitely think being with C has influenced her. Sounds like you have a great plan!