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Mama Drama: School Anxiety Support…for Mom

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Dear Mama Drama:

I was bullied in school and have a lot of anxiety for my daughter who just started preschool. I worry that the teachers won’t stand up for her and that she’ll be picked on, so I’ve told her to hit anyone who bothers or hurts her.

Her teachers say that she will end up in trouble instead. How can I help her stand up for herself if she can’t hit?

~Scared Mama

 (photo credit)

Dear Scared:

Bullying is a real problem, but you can empower your daughter to stand up for herself without teaching her to hurt others.

Our experiences growing up have a big impact on how we view school for our children. It is easy to project these onto our children, but is more important to support them in creating a positive outlook about school so their experience can be better than ours.

Hitting it not a socially acceptable behavior and if used as a first response will lead to a great deal of difficulty for your daughter. Children who hit are often ostracized in school, as other students don’t feel safe playing with them. They are also more likely to have consequences that lead them to miss class time and learning opportunities.

Talk with your daughter’s teachers about your concerns and the reasons for them. Ask them about how they monitor the class, handle problems between students, and teach social skills. Knowing their strategies should help ease some of your fears.

Encourage your daughter to see the positives in school and in her classmates. Model noticing safe and friendly choices and ask her about the things she enjoyed in school each day. Make sure you are looking for the positives as well and not being critical or overreacting to typical interactions that happen in preschool. When you have questions or concerns, try to share those with the teachers out of earshot of your daughter.

Find resources to teach your daughter pro-social skills for problem solving and making friends.  The Mama Drama column on Bully Busting Basics describes skills to teach and books to read with your daughter.

The bottom line is that you don’t want other kids hitting and bullying your daughter and other parents don’t want their children hit or bullied either.  Teach your daughter to be strong in her social skills, rather than to be afraid that others will hurt her.

If you still feel overwhelmed by anxiety, seek professional mental health support to help you work through these issues.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

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  • comment avatar Mrs. Coelho September 22, 2011

    I almost didn’t believe that a mother would really write this! Scared Mama would serve herself and her child better by receiving counseling for her anxiety. If she doesn’t work it out she will transfer her issues onto her child… telling your child to hit anyone that bothers or hurts her is ridiculous. All of us get hurt or are bothered… could you imagine if this was the way we dealt with our issues by hitting someone?

    • comment avatar Lisa September 22, 2011

      I understand your concerns. Unfortunately, many people feel they do not have a voice to stand up for themselves and have unresolved trauma that impacts their parenting and social interactions in general.(And if you look at the levels of violence in America, there is huge part of the population for whom this is the only response they know.)

      Those of us who have the skills and confidence to speak up for ourselves and solve problems peacefully are fortunate and don’t always realize the challenge of those with fewer resources and less social emotional support.

      On the positive side, this mother reached out for help and wants ideas to support her daughter that she herself didn’t have. We can judge and turn away or respond with compassion and support. The choice is ours.

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