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Laying a Foundation for Antibullying
Bullying remains a significant issue for children and youth throughout their school years. However, bullying is often perceived as an issue that affects only older children, because during preschool years it is difficult to tell the difference between normal misbehavior and emergent bullying behavior.
Between ages 3 and 6, children are still learning to play with their peers, make friends, share toys, negotiate, and solve disagreements. Since these skills are not fully developed or mastered, children may easily get frustrated and act out during difficult situations.
Is It Misbehavior or Bullying?
When children use negative comments to describe their peers on a daily basis, ignore children on purpose, or deliberately plan something mean to hurt another child, it may indicate emerging bullying behaviors that need to be addressed. Often times, if parents help their children understand that negative actions and words hurt others, they will stop. Therefore, it is key to establish positive patterns of behaviors from the beginning, thus setting the foundation for later behavior, attitudes, and relationships.
Keep an Eye on New Changes
Fostering Life Skills
To practice life skills, find a strategy that works best with your child, based on the child’s age, temperament, and inclinations. The following strategies are fun and easy to use when practicing life skills with children.
Role-playing: Young children benefit more from the physical demonstration of a problem than from just conversation. You can use sock puppets, or puppets of any kind, to set up pretend situations and dramatizations. This is a good opportunity to engage in what if conversations, where a child can try different solutions to a given problem.
Problem-solving: Use an incident or problem that has already occurred as an example to talk about alternative solutions to the problem and the likely consequences of those choices. (What could you have done instead? How could you have made a better choice with words? What would you like to have happened?)
The ability to understand the meaning of words and then to use words for self-expression affects every aspect of a preschooler’s life. As children continue to understand their world through language, they learn how to control their behavior.
Teach Your Child To Be Assertive
Teaching your children how to control their emotions may prevent outbursts and tantrums, including acting out against other children. Encourage children to work through disagreements by validating everyone’s feelings, restating the problem, and asking for possible solutions. Learning how to resolve conflicts early allows children to have positive and supportive friendships.
Preschool children benefit by mastering these skills before entering school, since they will understand what type of behavior is acceptable and what is not. Parents and teachers need to work closely together to provide opportunities to reinforce these skills. Young children who master these skills increase their resilience to bullying and are more likely to have a fun, positive, rewarding, and safe preschool experience.
Family Activity: Bullying: Start Talking
Educator Activity: Strategies To Prevent Bullying in the Classroom
Quiz for Parents: Understanding Bullying During Preschool Years
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
15+ Take Time to Listen …Take Time To Talk … About Bullying cards encourage parents and caregivers to spend at least 15 minutes a day listening and talking with their children to prevent youth violence.
The ABCs of Bullying: Addressing, Blocking, and Curbing School Aggression is a 7-part course on bullying and how to deal with it among children of all ages. The course includes screening and assessment tools, treatment for children and adolescents, supplemental materials, references, and factsheets.
Stopping Bullying Behaviors: Advice for Parents and Caregivers provides sound advice on ways to stop bullying in the school environment.
The following online resources provide excellent tips, information, and resources for parents and caregivers:
Education Development Center , Inc.
Sesame Street Workshop
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Updated on 10/18/2012