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My 3 and half year old boy is constantly being bullied at daycare. They hit him, call him names, climb on him and harass him. I am doing everything I can to stop this, and I will continue to do so until the bullying stops.

The interesting thing though is that my child doesn't seem to care so much, or take it to heart as much as I would expect him to. I mean he definitely is not thrilled with the whole thing, but he talks about it in a passive state as if he's telling me a story that happened today at daycare that doesn't pertain to him. This is what got me thinking that he is not mature enough to process emotions like adults do, and that it has little effect on him and that he forgets about it as soon as he comes home. On one hand he is thrilled to go to daycare, he loves his teacher and everything, which makes me happy. But at the same time I know that he is being bullied, and I'm sure he doesn't like that. But somehow it doesn't seem to have a huge impact on him and his behavior (or maybe it does, and I'm just not aware of it).

I should also mention that this only happens during lunch time when his beloved teacher takes a break, and an incapable teacher takes over, the children take advantage of her and my poor child (he has only one friend that's loyal to him), but besides for that the bullying does not take place (so she assures me, and I trust her).

My question is, how worried should I be for my child's emotional health? I mean I'm gonna do whatever I can to stop the bullying regardless, but is he mature enough to process emotions and should I be worried that it will impact him in the future, even though it doesn't seem to have any major effect on him right now?

  • Are the children doing the bullying the same age? – Meg Dec 5 '19 at 5:25
  • @Meg to be exact, they are one year older. He is youngest in his class (which is really causing all the issues, but academically speaking he is on par and even better than his peers). – Bach Dec 17 '19 at 15:11
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We can't (as in you can't, and the rest of us certainly can't) know what's really going on in your son's head.

The best possible explanation would be that he feels so loved and secure in himself that he can easily see the wrongdoings of others as reflective of their qualities, and not his. In which case I'll say, wow, that's a child that really knows he's loved, well done parenting, but I would still work immensely to reaffirm that feeling during this period of being tested.

A worse scenario is that he has internalized the bullying and thinks he's being hit because that's part of life, or worse, because he somehow deserves to be hit.

I might lean towards thinking the latter is more probable for a child of that age, but there's no real need to speculate. What is known is that your child is being bullied. As I said, I think that even in the best scenario, a child of this age who is being bullied age needs intent work to reaffirm that he is loved, that he is worthy of love, and that what's happening to him is not his fault and not right.

Hammer that message in. In the off chance that he really is walking through this unscathed, this is still something that every child needs to hear.

  • All due respect, 'he feels so loved and secure he can see the wrongdoings of others as reflective of their qualities..'. This sounds like a stretch for the cognitive capacity of a three and a half year old. I'd assume a more likely explanation is that the bullying isn't severe enough that it's causing him any serious consternation. – Canadian Coder Dec 5 '19 at 13:19
  • @CanadianCoder: Granted. That's not what I think is happening either. My point was that even in that best case scenario imaginable (or unimaginable if you will), my recommendation would be the same. – David Hedlund Dec 5 '19 at 13:27
  • That's fair, although the word 'possible' makes it sound a bit misleading. I'm not sure that is possible given the age, which seems like a subtle point, but I believe is actually very important as parents tend to over-estimate how much of their kids behavior is conscious for a good period of their childhood. – Canadian Coder Dec 5 '19 at 13:42
  • I really like your first possible explanation, and I think it describes my child well. My son has a ton of confidence, and I consider myself a great father as well ;) I really pray and hope that this is the case, because surprisingly he is really dealing well with the bullying and all. Thanks for your answer. +1 – Bach Dec 5 '19 at 15:45
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    "A worse scenario is that he has internalized the bullying and thinks he's being hit because that's part of life, or worse, because he somehow deserves to be hit." This cannot be overemphasized. At that age, a child believes that everything is their fault: if a parent leaves, it's their fault, if a dog dies, it's their fault, etc. Kids are very egocentric at this age, and early bullying can indeed result in the child thinking they somehow deserve it. Te advice to love and explain is spot-on. – anongoodnurse Dec 10 '19 at 16:07
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I believe you should be very concerned.

Bullying is child abuse. When someone thumps you the age of the fist is not important; it hurts just as much. Likewise harassment and name-calling are psychological abuse. If it were an adult doing these things then the police would be involved. That's not to say you should call the police on the bullies, but you need to see this for what it is. Too often bullying is normalised as something that children are expected to withstand.

(Personal note: I was bullied a lot at school starting from my first day, at a time when children were expected to learn to stand on their own two feet. It definitely caused issues).

[...] he talks about it in a passive state as if he's telling me a story that happened today at daycare that doesn't pertain to him.

That sounds worrying. Dissociative disorder can be a response to abuse; the victim learns to put the abuse in a box separate from themselves, and to disconnect from the world when being abused. This is a normal coping strategy, but if it becomes a habit then it can lead to long-term problems. I didn't do that, but it sounds like your son might be. (Note: I have no medical training).

You need to take this up with the daycare. They have a legal duty to keep your son safe and they are failing in that duty. They should have an anti-bullying policy; ask to see it and then require them to take action. Do not accept this situation. If they can't keep your son safe then you need to get him out of there. I don't know your situation and I realise that this may not be easy, but the abuse your son is suffering is not acceptable.

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Well you should be concerned because child bullying at young ages can lead to antisocial personality disorder and many other.He can grow up believing that being bullied is something ok and if he is bullied again , he wont do anything for it, he may not inform you for being bullied.

The reason your kid doesnt care much about it could be:

1)He hasnt developed his emotions and understanding of things yet and it is like a dream fading away when he comes home.

2)Your kid has been accustomed with the bullying and thinks it is something regular and despite he doesnt like it since he cant run from it , it has become a habit.

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    "child bullying at young ages can lead to antisocial personality disorder and many other." On this site, we strive for supported opinion, not just opinion. Please support this statement with a reliable source. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Dec 5 '19 at 3:08
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    @MrsChemistry You may have this study confused. Links between perpetrating bullying and antisocial behaviour disorder were found, but AFAIK there are no known links between being the victim of bullying and antisocial behaviour disorder. – Omegastick Dec 11 '19 at 4:41
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The bullying of kids to other kinds is so common. It could destroy the personality and mental health of your child. He will loose the self confidence. Take every possible action to stop it. Train your child to complain to teacher about those kids. Or you can change the day care centre of your kid.

Thanks,

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