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How to handle teasing/bullying in a childcare setting

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
How to handle teasing/bullying in a childcare setting

I never thought I'd ever hear about bullying in a child care centre.

That was until last week. I know it's a difficult topic but you know me I'm not one to shy away from anything a bit controversial or raw.

I'd been to see a family with a three year old little boy learn to love his bed that little bit more and stay in it overnight. I also noticed that he was incredibly shy and reserved with me. Now this is unusual. Children usually can't stop talking to me as they know I understand them. Not this little boy. It's also useful to note that I've known this little boy for two years and have helped him before with loving his cot when he was around one. So he knew me. The family are a really loving family and they want to parent effectively as most do.

The quiet child was discussed in the visit and we talked about some recent outbursts of tantrums. I discussed ways of managing them.

I'd also brought along a couple of books that I felt may be helpful for the little boy.

The books were a way of finding a voice for his anger and frustrations and give him some words for his emotions. He loved the books and a big smile came across his face, so I knew that he knew I understood his feelings as did his parents.

The evening went really well, the little boy went to bed easily and all seemed well.

BTW I got these little gems from Better Read Than Dead in Newtown. A legend of a bookshop that has heaps of great kids books.

Then I got a phone call from mum.

She told me that when dad dropped him off at daycare, several small children greeted him at the door and said, 'X doesn't have a voice, he can't say any words'.

Dad like most parents didn't know quite what to say and I think he responded with, 'yes he can, he knows lots of words'. This had been going on for weeks and had made him selectively mute. He is a very sensitive little boy and I knew handled badly would be disastrous for his emotional development.

So I advised mum to speak to the childcare director/co-ordinator immediately. It needed addressing and de-escalating.

I also sent her some info from Children are People Too by Dr Louise Porter and amazing Australian Psychologist.

Dr Louise Porter advises setting up a PEACE anti-bullying programme that has been designed by Australian researcher, Phillip Slee. It is co-ordinated by the childcare director and disseminated to all the child carers.

P.E.A.C.E. stands for ...
  • P is a school policy on bullying
  • E is for education of students, parents and teachers about what bullying means and how to deal with it
  • A is action at all levels and close supervision in yard or playground, class discussions and individual talks with victims and bullies
  • C is for helping victims and bullies cope with their difficulties
  • E is for evaluation of the effectiveness of the programmE

We also discussed the background to bullying and why it occurs.

It's often because of a lack of control in the bully's home. They may have witnessed similar behaviour and are re-enacting it. It can also occur as a result of being 'shamed' by parents or others. But it needs addressing, no matter what the cause. And I'm happy to report that X has started talking again, is happy in daycare and sleeping well. Once he started to sleep through the night he had more energy to participate and talk in childcare and so was no longer victimized.

Never underestimate sleep training and what it does! Mum wanted me to tell X's story so here it is and thank you mum.

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