Q: Because my six-year-old daughter decided to play with a girl who had been excluded from a “group” at school, she was then excluded as well. While I am proud of her for standing up to the bullies, I am worried she will face the same kind of treatment she was trying to stop. She doesn’t want me to confront the bullies. What should I do?
A: It’s very difficult for a young child to stand up to bullies, so you are right to be proud. Your daughter has shown great strength of character and is clearly receiving positive messages about civility and caring from your parenting.
In the past, we believed that kids should be able to handle bullying on their own — but we now know they need adult intervention. I can understand that your daughter doesn’t want you to get involved, but you must.
Explain that if the girls’ behaviour isn’t stopped, they will go on to bully other kids over the years. Reassure your daughter that you’re not going to confront the girls directly. Then talk to a teacher, administrator or counsellor at the school. An adult authority figure may have already observed this behaviour; if not, they can now watch for it. This way, confrontation of the bullies won’t be coming from you or your daughter, but from the school authorities.
If you find there is no anti-bullying program at your daughter’s school, I urge you to take this opportunity to get involved with the parent committee and create one.