My daughter is nearly 6. We live in theUK, and our system here offers nursery places (or what would be called pre-k) for all children aged 3. Usually for 3 hours per day, of the week. When she was 3, we happily sent her off to the local school nursery, which we were very pleased with, seemed lovely, teachers were nice. She loved it, and thrived. She would literally RUN there every day, we never had one day where she would protest about not wanting to go, or any clingy behaviour. She thoroughly enjoyed her first year there.
Her second year, after a month or so, she became reluctant to go, she cried, wouldn't let me leave her. She was 4, and her baby brother had arrived on the scene in the summer, and I figured she was just adjusting to change at home and feeling a bit overwhelmed. But it went on. She wasn't happy. I tried to ask her what was wrong, but she wouldn't tell me. Finally, one of the other parents of a child in the nursery, came to me and asked me if my daughter was ok, because her son had told her that another child "A", was being constantly horrible to my daughter, each day, and making her cry and encouraging other children not to play with her, and saying horrible things. I gently asked my 4 year old, when we got home, if this was true. It all came pouring out, in floods of tears. This other little girl, had been teasing her, calling her names, not allowing the other children to play with her, join in games, and telling tales on her to the teacher. She was worried we'd be angry with her, and that her teacher would be too, so she hadn't told us. I was devastated, and angry. My little girl, at barely aged 4, was being bullied, by another 4 year old! I spoke to the nursery teacher, who had noticed that A had been causing some problems, that it wasn't just my child, another child was also involved, and that she and her class assistants were taking steps to deal with it. She assured me she was watching out for my daughter, and would keep me informed if she felt the issue was becoming worse. We also spent time talking to my daughter about dealing with someone bullying her, and handling it, if she could, and reassuring her that no matter what, she could come and tell me/us/the teacher if she was being made to feel unhappy/scared/sad.
The issue resolved, the teacher made sure A was not allowed to intimidate or upset other children, and when the class moved up into their first year at school, A moved onto another school, so we forgot about it. My daughter still mentions it occasionally, when we've talked about being nice to people, feelings etc, and the school ran an anti bullying week, last year, so we've felt confident that we'd dealt with it and closed the chapter.
Until this week, when I found out that A had visited our school, and my daughters class for a day, because it looks like she is transferring back.
I'm having very mixed feelings and emotions about this. Part of me, the non-helicopter, sensible parent, says that A may be fine, she will be coming into a new class, where the kids have all been together for 1.5 years, have friendships, and bonds, and that I don't need to worry. Also my daughter is nearly 6, is confident, happy, and we've taught her how to deal with emotional bullying. The other part of me, the Mama Lioness, is roaring inside "that child bullied my child; I don't want her in the class". Also, I feel a bit sorry for A, because a child just doesn't become a bully, something made her act out, and behave this way, and I want to feel compassion and concern for her, she is after all, still a child, and she could have a dreadful home life, that is making her act out this way. As a children's nurse, I've seen families from all walks of life, and I know that children react and lash out when they're unhappy or being treated badly, or are seeing abuse/bullying at home.
So we wait and see. Once a bully, always a bully? Or maybe just something that happened, that we all learned from, and there won't be any more problems. It's been praying on my mind. I think the urge to protect our children sometimes is so strong; it can make us see things in a slightly irrational light. I know I can't wrap my children in cotton wool; I don't want to be an overprotective parent. I do want to help my daughter through life where I can, guide her, reassure her, comfort her, but I know she's going to meet people she doesn't like, or who won't like her, and who may make her life difficult, and I can't stop that. I just feel at the tender age of 6, she's still my baby. I'm not ready to accept that someone might want to be horrible to MY beautiful little girl.
Time will tell. I've not spoken to my daughter about it, she herself has commented "Maybe A will be nicer now she's a big girl" and we've left it at that for now. I don't want to project my anxiety onto her.
I won't hesitate to step in, if I think something is wrong though.
So, once a bully, always a bully? I'm hoping not in this case. I guess we wait and see....
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