“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” We know that this adage is not true. Bullying is a widespread problem in school and in communities. Physical aggression, threats, teasing, and harassment are unacceptable anti-social behavior. We hear more and more in the news about bullying and it’s effects on the person being bullied. Some children end up taking their own lives because they are bullied or teased. Researchers advocate intervention as early as preschool.
Most bullying behavior develops in response to multiple factors in the environment at home, school and within the peer group. There is no one cause of bullying.
Contributing factors may include:
Family factors: The frequency and severity of bullying is related to the amount of adult supervision that children receive—bullying behavior is reinforced when it has no or inconsistent consequences. Children who observe parents and siblings exhibiting bullying behavior, or who are themselves victims, are more likely to develop bullying behaviors. When children receive negative messages or physical punishment at home, they tend to develop negative self concepts and expectations. Attack or be attacked. Bullying others gives them a sense of power and importance.
School factors: School personnel often ignore bullying, reinforcing the child’s behavior. Bullying thrives in an environment where children are more likely to receive negative feedback and negative attention than in a positive school climate that fosters respect and sets high standards for interpersonal behavior.
Peer group factors: Children may interact in a school or neighborhood peer group that advocates, supports, or promotes bullying behavior. Some children may bully peers in an effort to “fit in,” even though they may be uncomfortable with the behavior.
What can childcare providers do?
Early Intervention: Group and building-wide social skills training is highly recommended, as well as counseling and systematic aggression interventions for students exhibiting bullying and victim behaviors. School psychologists or other mental health personnel who are well-trained in providing training assistance and/or in selecting and evaluating prevention programs may be needed.
Teacher training: Training can help teachers identify and respond to potentially damaging victimization as well as to implement positive feedback and modeling to address appropriate social interactions. Support services personnel working with administrators can help design effective teacher training modules.
Attitude change: Researchers maintain that society must cease defending bullying behavior as part of growing up. Bullying can be stopped! Childcare personnel should never ignore bullying behaviors.
Positive school environment: Childcare facilities with easily understood rules of conduct, smaller class sizes and fair discipline practices report less violence. A positive school climate will reduce bullying and victimization.
Read the complete article: Bullying: Facts for Schools and Parents; by Andrea Cohn & Andrea Canter, Ph.D., NCSP, National Association of School Psychologists
Unless a child tells you they are being bullied, or you notice bruises or other injuries, it can be difficult to know that they are being bullied. Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. It is not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids find it funny. When teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to be stopped. Here are some signs to look for and strategies to help the bullied child to
deal with the situation.
Suspect bullying if:
If you suspect bullying, but the child is reluctant to confide in you, find opportunities to bring up the issue in a more roundabout way. As a conversation starter, ask, "What do you think of this?" or "What do you think that person should have done?" This might lead to questions like: "Have you ever seen this happen?" or "Have you ever experienced this?" You might want to talk about any experiences you or another family member had at that age. Let the child know that if he/ she is being bullied or sees someone else being bullied that it's important to talk to someone about it, whether it's you, another adult (a teacher, school counselor, or family friend), or a sibling. Here are some strategies to discuss with kids that can help improve the situation and make them feel better. Encourage them to:
Visit Kids Health to read the whole article.
Preschool social skills depend on three abilities:
Use a "talking stick" to help children practice the art of listening
and communicating. Explain to the children that in many Native American tribes, people used a "talking stick" to make sure that each person had a turn to share his or her ideas and opinions with the rest of the group. The person holding the stick had the right to speak. Everyone else was expected to listen with respect. When a person finished talking, he or she passed the stick t