Children have the right to learn and develop in a safe and supportive preschool environment.

Supporting a child’s social and emotional development in early childhood lays a good foundation for their wellbeing and success in later life, including their mental health and wellbeing.

For this reason, your child’s preschool needs to be a setting in which all children can feel socially, emotionally and physically safe and valued.

For one worried mum, her three-year-old son is experiencing bullying at his daycare and she called on our Bounty Parents Facebook community for advice.

The concerned mum writes: “My son is 3yo and has recently started complaining every morning about going to daycare because another boy is mean and calls him names. I’ve brought it up with the daycare staff who say they haven’t noticed any bullying but that they will keep an eye on it. It’s been going on for a few weeks and I’m not sure what else to do.

“Due to covid restrictions, I’m not allowed to go into the daycare, I just drop my son off at the door which I feel is making it difficult for me to get an understanding of what’s going on each day. Would you look at moving daycares?”

“My son is 3yo and has recently started complaining every morning about going to daycare…”

Mums were quick to offer words of support and advice which echoed the sentiment that she should take the matter further with the preschool and get them to put a stop to the bullying.

One parent suggested she make a formal complaint in writing: “I’d be looking at putting your concerns in writing. Because that way they’ll have to investigate it and also when your child does eventually slot the other kid, you’ll at least be able to prove a history.”

While another mum added that as well as taking the matter to management, she could use the situation to teach her child some coping mechanisms.

“If I was you I would just escalate my concerns both to his educators and also to the management and ask if anything is actively being done about the bullying because if your son is still talking about it that would (to me) indicate that it probably is still happening. Try that first,” she offered.

And then added: “If it was our son I would also try and come up with some practical solutions that he could use to stand up for himself or remove himself from the other kid when they are being mean, try to teach coping mechanisms from a young age too.”

Children have the right to learn and develop in a safe and supportive preschool environment.

According to Raising Children, bullying is when children deliberately and repeatedly do and say unkind things. In preschool this can include teasing, leaving others out, being physically aggressive and saying mean things.

“If your child is being bullied at preschool, they need a lot of love and support, both at home and at preschool. Your child also needs to know that you’ll take action to prevent any further bullying.”

Talking with your child is essential to helping you to understand what is happening so you can take action with the preschool:

“Once you understand the situation, you need to get notify the preschool staff. Most early childcare centres will have policies and procedures in place to manage bullying.”

Raising Children offers the following advice for how to work with your child’s preschool teacher to stop bullying:

  • Make a time to speak privately with the teacher.
  • Calmly present your concerns as a joint issue for you both to deal with. For example, ‘Cassie says Tyler is hitting her at preschool, calling her names and telling the other kids not to play with her. I’d like your help to find out what’s happening and what we can do about it’.
  • Discuss the problem with the teacher. Ask for the teacher’s views. You could also ask how the preschool teaches children about emotions and how to treat other people.
  • Be assertive, not angry or accusatory. For example, ‘Yes, children do tease sometimes. But I don’t agree this was just teasing. I think it’s more serious’.
  • End the meeting with a plan for how the situation will be managed. For example, ‘You’re going to talk to the other teachers about this so they can watch the children carefully around the climbing frame. And we’re going to talk again next week’.
  • Keep in touch with the teacher.