Here’s a riddle for you: How does a preschool child handle a bully?
A preschool child doesn’t know what a bully is.
Case in point is the story out of Fargo about the Frohliche Kinder Preschool, “Troupe busts up school bullying”. Children in the article suggested ways to counter bullies: “Don’t let the bullies hit” suggested one. Or as my son has learned in preschool: “Gentle touches.”
The story discusses one way to address bullying in schools, and that’s educating children early through drama (or in this case a puppet show).
The script has one puppet warding off his bullies with pillow and helmet according to author Mila Koumpilova, and his puppet friends suggest telling an authority figure instead. The show is followed by discussion between actors and students about ways to handle bullies, and sharing information with an adult is urged. As I’ve indicated before though, getting any information, let alone accurate, out of a child about his day at preschool can be daunting: “‘At this age, you can’t just sit and talk to the kids,’ says Kimberly Larson, owner of Brighter Beginnings Preschool in Fargo, where the ‘Safe at School’ group performed to riveted crowds in January. ‘When you have the puppets and the music, they can comprehend it a bit more easily.’”
But preschool bullies are a problem according to the article, so I’m not necessarily overreacting. “Wendy Troop-Gordon, a North Dakota State University child development professor and expert on bullying, says full-blown bullies occasionally crop up as early as preschool. Generally, though, kids at that age act out as a way to communicate or test the limits of appropriate behavior, not to intimidate and terrorize. Still, she thinks, preschool would be a great time to start an age-appropriate discussion.”
Children this age tend to assume bullies all use physical violence, according to the article, but what happens when a young child threatens physical violence, and how does the other young child tell the difference?