We started our daughter in a preschool program for a few days a week shortly before her third birthday. As an only child, we felt it was important for her to have regular interaction with her peers, develop critical social skills and prepare for the structure and expectations of school.
The past few years she has loved preschool. Last spring, she asked me if she could go every day. I told her this school year, when she entered voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK), she would. She was excited.
But as the summer was winding down, she suddenly began to express negative feelings about school. One night over dinner, she announced, “I don’t want to go to VPK!”
“Why not, sweetie?”
“I don’t like school.”
“You’ve always liked it before. What is different? Are you concerned about expectations being higher this year?”
“No. I just don’t like it.”
My husband and I were puzzled, and gently pressed to try to get to the bottom of her newly developed apprehension. Eventually, she confessed it was due to fact the two girls who taunted her last year on the playground will be in her classroom again.
My heart tore into a million tiny pieces. My four and a half year old is afraid to go to school because of little mean girls. I’m tearing up as I write because I am so distressed this is happening to my daughter, and at such a young age.
We have talked to her about how to respond if faced with the same behavior. Read books about dealing with bullies. I’ve written a letter to her teachers explaining the background and her anxiety.
We are looking at ways to help foster the friendships she does have at school, to ensure she is not isolated and has allies in the classroom as well as on the playground. We’re focusing on building her confidence and making sure she knows she is loved, appreciated and respected for who she is.
And every day this school year, my daughter will receive a note with her lunch that reminds her she is our treasure – courtesy of Lunchbox Love® for Kids. I hope she has more good days than bad. But when the latter does occur, I’m crossing my fingers an extra dose of love can help turn things around.