Can a four-year-old be bullied? My son woke up several times this week screaming. This is actually not a big surprise because he has night terrors. However, this week he was screaming, "No, don't hit me!" Red Flag! So I asked about what he played with his friend that day and he said pirates. O.K., I can see how he might be screaming, so I ignored it.
He didn't scream the next night. Then, he saw the same little boy and woke up screaming, "Don't hit me!" At this point, he's not playing with that little boy anymore unless I am home. I don't know what's happening, but it's scaring him and that's not good.
Stop bullying now gives some reasons why I shouldn't just let this go:
- It happens a lot more than some people think - Studies show that between 15-25% of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency, while 15-20% report they bully others with some frequency (Melton et al, 1988; Nansel et al, 2001).
- It can mess up a kid's future. Young people who bully are more likely than those who don't bully to skip school and drop out of school. They are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and get into fights (Nansel et al, 2003; Olweus, 1993).
- It scares some people so much that they skip school. As many as 160,000 students may stay home on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied (Pollack, 1998).
- It can lead to huge problems later in life. Children who bully are more likely to get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school. And 60% of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24 (Olweus, 1993).
Here's what the experts suggest we do as parents:
- First, focus on your child. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Tell your child you are concerned about him or her and ask questions.
- Contact your child's teacher and/or principal. He or she will probably be in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers at school.
- Ask the teacher to talk to other adults who interact with your child at school to see if they have observed students bullying your child.
- If you know your child is being bullied, take quick action. There is nothing worse than doing nothing, and bullying can have serious effects.
Now my son says his friend never hit him and he doesn't know why he was waking up screaming that. Go figure! I am still being very cautious!