Most children enjoy nursery, but what if your child feigns tummy ache or cries every time it’s mentioned? And what should you do if they tell you so-and-so is hitting them?
‘The single most important thing is to listen to them,’ says Dr Michael Boulton, senior lecturer of psychology at the University College of Chester. ‘Don’t brush it off or say something like “grow up”. This can lead to victims suffering in silence, which makes it worse. You should then monitor the situation, and if it’s still going on in a week, inform the nursery or playgroup.’ But Dr Boulton advises against throwing accusations around. Talking to staff calmly will get better results.
It can take time for things to settle, so separating the two children as much as possible is the answer. As for the child who picks on others, remember they’re very young and may not realise their behaviour is unacceptable. ‘Children aren’t born knowing how to deal with anger,’ Dr Boulton says. ‘We have to teach them. Around the age of two, children are becoming aware other people have different emotions. If your child hits another, rather than becoming angry, explain that it hurts when they get hit and they don’t like it, so the other child doesn’t like it either. After a while, this should sink in.’
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Do’s and don’ts
Whether your child is confident or shy is determined by their character. But there’s plenty you can do to help build self-esteem.
DO make sure there’s time in the day when you give your child your full attention.
DON’T keep on and on teaching something if the child shows lack of interest or reluctance. You can always try again much later.
DO listen to what your child has to say; if he can express himself and rely on your support at home, he’ll feel more able to cope outside the home environment.
DON’T stint on time with your child, especially if you’re working. Try to find time and energy to devote to them.
DO tell them you love them. You know you do, but you need to tell them constantly and show you love them unconditionally through praise, friendship, and encouragement. It will make them more secure, less fearful and able to develop greater self-belief.
- With thanks to Karen Sullivan, author of Kids Under Pressure: How To Raise A Stress-free And Happy Child (Piatkus, £8.99).