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My 4 yr old daughter is not being treated fair at pre school. The school is Spanish and English speaking. She says that some of the kids are being mean to her. It is starting to effect her personality. I notice how much she has changed since starting at this school. I want to transfer her to a new school but there is a waiting list. What do I do in the mean time? Keep her home until we find a new school or have her keep attending the present school in hopes that things won't get worse? I am very confused as a parent. I want to do the right thing for my daughter, and of course I want to do what makes her happy. Sincerely, Confused mommy, NM


Christine Hierlmaier Nelson Replied: Are you able to take a day off from work and observe the dynamics of the classroom? This may be step one in getting to the bottom of what is occurring between classmates. Secondly, enlist the assistance of the teacher and staff in observing any unfair behavior in the classroom. The children should not be running the show; the teachers should be modeling and teaching appropriate behavior. Your daughter has the right to feel safe and able to turn to an adult in the classroom for reassurance. You can also have conversations with your daughter about how to handle teasing or rude behavior. Often if children have tools, they can adapt. For example, if a child is teasing her, she can say, "I know you really like me and that's why you're teasing me. It's okay, I like you too." She is more likely to believe the loving words of her parent than the teasing words of a classmate. Tell her that kids sometimes tease, but what they say isn't true. Tell her that she is beautiful and loving. Build her up at home to handle the adversity that life brings...even early in life.
Posted On 2009-12-18 08:49:24
Janet Price Replied: Dear Confused Mommy: It can be excruciating to see your little one unhappy in their school setting. It sounds like you have made up your mind about changing schools. Regarding whether to keep her home until the new placement becomes available, is she asking to stay home each day and making the transition from home to school difficult? Does she seem to be getting nothing or very little that is positive from her time there? If both answers to these questions are yesm, then she should probably stay home while she awaits another school. It is a delicate balance between deciding when to terminate a difficult placement for your child and when to encourage your child, teachers, and you to work together to make school a better experience. I have some questions that you might want to ask her teachers, if you haven't yet: Do they notice that your daughter is struggling with peer connections? Are they aware that she feels others are being mean to her? What are they doing to help make that work better for your daughter in their class? Working together in a school-home partnership can do wonders in making school an environment that is positive for her. Best of luck in whichever you decide.
Posted On 2009-12-06 18:26:55
Charlotte Cowan, M.D. Replied: There are several important points in your question, and the first is that you clearly care deeply about helping your daughter. She is very lucky to have you as her Mom! Going to school at almost any age can be difficult for EVERY child --and her parents. You do not tell me in your question whether your daughter has already had school experience some where else or whether this is a first time for her to be in a group of children. Either way, there are lots of adjustments to make—in any classroom—even if it is composed of all English or of all Spanish speaking children. EVERY child needs to learn how to share, how to be kind, how to respect differences, how to play with others fairly, etc. This is a big job for EVERY child! My first suggestion is that you speak with the teacher(s) about your concerns. The teachers know what is going on in the classroom and are often very helpful at identifying the problems. Another suggestion is that you volunteer to spend some time in your daughter's school. Can you go to help with art class or reading or on special holidays? Then you would get to know first hand what is going on. A third idea to help your daughter to make friends in the classroom—and to break down the sense that "everyone is mean"—is to invite one or two children over to play or to meet at a playground. Your daughter will encounter problems of one kind or another wherever she goes to school because ALL children do! Learning to make her current situation better is a good first step towards helping her to enjoy the school years which stretch out ahead of her. Best of luck and I hope this helps! Charlotte Cowan, M.D.
Posted On 2009-12-03 17:01:49
Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: First, what an awesome opportunity for your daughter to attend a bilingual preschool. The younger we are, the easier it is to learn another language.

Now to your question. It'd be helpful if you gave an example of "not being treated fair." Is it something you personally observed or what she has related to you? Children of this age are sensitive to ridicule and peer conscious so your daughter may be interpreting some peer behavior as rejection.

Your teaching opportunity is ripe. You can ask her to explain how she feels when someone says or does something unkind. You can teach her coping skills. I used to encourage my daughters to practice their "ignoring skills" to unkindness.

Depending on your daughter's ability to adapt, it could do more harm than good to pull her out and then transfer her to a new school.

Could you also discuss this with your daughter's preschool teacher? Perhaps she (or he) has insight into the situation. You and the teacher can team up to help resolve the problem.
You do have many factors to consider but, bottom line, ask yourself what's the overall message you want to send: learning to deal with unpleasant people or leaving the situation. It's a tough call but unless your daughter is severely unhappy, having sleep disturbances, or regressing to infantile behaviors, I'd encourage you to try working through the school situation this year. Next year could be totally different and extremely happy for her.
Posted On 2009-11-28 17:28:38
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