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Is Your Toddler Being Bullied?

Aug 17, 2007
When you send your toddler off to pre-school or on a play date with a friend, the last thing on your mind is that something might go wrong. While you are out running your daily errands or simply enjoying a little well-earned spare, there is a possibility that your toddler could be threatened with physical and/or emotional harm in your absence. Would you know the many signs that would indicate that all is not well?

In 2005, a national survey reported that an astonishing 63% of children ages four through ten say they are or have been bullied by other children of the same or similar age. The same survey found that only 18% of these children's parents or caretakers knew or suspected that their child was being bullied.

Bullying is defined as one person using his/her age, size, and aggressive nature to hurt and control other, vulnerable children. Bullies are people who have a very poor self-esteem and dominate others in a futile attempt to increase their sense of self-worth. Bullies can be any age, gender, or ethnic class. Young bullies, if their behavior is unchecked, become older bullies. In children, the psychiatric diagnosis of Conduct Disorder is just the beginning of the development of cruel, dominating behavior, refusal to follow social and family rules, substance abuse beginning at a young age, gang affiliation, school suspensions and learning disorders, and a lack of remorse for their actions. As these children reach age 18, they are diagnosed with the Antisocial Personality Disorder; in most cases, this diagnosis results in criminal behavior. An estimated 89% of prison inmates in this country are ASPD. This personality disorders are not "curable;" it's indicative of deeply-ingrained personality characteristics.

The following is a checklist of symptoms that your toddler may exhibit if he/she is being bullied:

- Depression; apathy, irritability, agitation, insomnia, low frustration tolerance, inability to concentrate, bed-wetting and lack of appetite.

- Fearfulness; reluctant to attend pre-school or play dates, crying, feigning illness.

- Questions about "What would happen if..?" concern about what happens in jail, "What if I told you a secret," and "If I don't like Tommy, do I have to play with him?"

- Physical signs that seem suspicious; unexplained cuts, scrapes and bruises. When asked, the child makes up a story that isn't consistent with the injury.

- Missing personal items; the child comes home without his/her lunch box, loss of small change, missing clothing, games, and toys.

- Regressed behavior; acting younger than his/her age, speaking "baby talk," clinging to parents, urinating or defecating in clothes, and wanting to eat baby food.

The hardest thing your child will have to do is tell you that he is being bullied. It's scary for children to speak out, and if you were to think back to when you were your child's age, you might be able to share a story or two about similar circumstances. At some point in our lives, each of us has gone the long way home to avoid getting caught by the school bully. Make sure that your child understands that he is not in trouble and that you can help them.

Naturally, if your child is being bullied at pre-school or at play dates, you'll want to know where were the supposedly supervising parents or teachers? Once your child has divulged the secret, you have every right to ask the adults why they failed to supervise what was happening at their home or at pre-school. Don't send your child back to a home where adult supervision is so lacking that he/she is being hurt. If your child is being harmed in a pre-school, speak to the owner or top-level manager about the lack of supervision by the teachers. If you get no satisfactory answers, remove your child from the school and report the harm done to your child to Child Protection Services.

Being bullied is devastating for a toddler. These children grow up feeling helpless and angry, often developing behavior problems and difficulties in learning. Parents should always intervene if their child is being bullied; don't take the stance that "they'll fight it out and get over it." No, they won't. Your child will grow up feeling inferior and being angry with you because you failed to protect them. Don't let them be correct.
About the Author
Graham Johns writes regularly for YourToddler.net where you can read many more articles on baby nursery . Also go to Family Life for a range of informative articles on infant car seats and much more
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