Having just started at primary school a few weeks ago, and not even 5 years of age, my daughter is one of the smallest children in reception. Unfortunately, her experience with school is yet to be a positive one, as she is being physically contacted by other reception students. This has left her feeling miserable, and having to avoid play areas where these kids play.
Build confidence by learning self-defence
As a parent, I initially felt helpless and unable to control the situation. Part of me wanted to race into the school raging, but thinking rationally I knew that was not the way to deal with situation. Instead I focused on my daughter, and showed her a few simple but effective strategies that negate the other kids actions when chasing her, or grabbing and pulling her hair and arms. Despite the fact that she is still learning the techniques, they have given my daughter a little more confidence to deal with the situation.
Confidence creates assertiveness
The main thing I am trying to teach my daughter is that being assertive is essential. The key to being assertive is for kids to present themselves as being confident by standing tall and pulling the shoulders back. Vocally conveying to the harasser “stop” or “no” in a firm and load voice, along with a “stop” hand gesture clearly asserts my daughters position. This also helps to attract attention from others (possibly including teachers and other older kids), highlighting that unwanted behavior is occurring.
More than ever, assertiveness and self-defence skills are required at kindergarten and reception age as many children are exposed to violence, desensitising and legitimising physical contact as a means of communicating.
Whilst myself and my partner are working through this situation with the school and my daughter, I reflect to think about how important it is for all young kids to learn assertiveness and self defence skills, because we never know when they will be needed.