We need to teach young children about bullying because the sooner a child learns how to be a good friend and not bully – and how to deal with bullies and bullying behavior, the better.
Research has shown that kids are being affected by bullying at a much younger age — and signs of this can be seen in preschool and kindergarten.
Ask anyone who’s ever been bullied and they will tell you that it affected their life, generally negatively. By teaching kids at a young age how to deal with bullies, and how to NOT be a bully, they will be better prepared for how to thwart aggressive words and actions, and hopefully stop the bully in his or her tracks before any lasting damage can be done.
And talking about how excluding people and making fun of friends can be hurtful and mean is crucial in helping young children develop social skills and social and emotional intelligence.
When it comes to classroom bullying there are many schools of theories, thoughts, discussions and prevention techniques. No matter your approach, kindness first is always a good thing in the classroom and beyond. Not all bullying escalates to hitting and punching, but bullying can also include small aggressive acts or words that are meant to demean or embarrass another child. When they’re not addressed they can often escalate or become a normal mode of operation within the classroom. As a teacher you’re focused on multiple things on a daily basis and certainly behavior is one of them. Here are a few small tips regarding gateway behavior and how to handle them:
- Observe How Students Interact: Noticing small things can lead to big prevention in the long run. Use idle times like recess, arrival and lunch to observe how students talk to and treat each other. These kinds of casual interactions are often the most honest coming from a student. They are no longer on their best classroom behavior and are generally exhibiting the kinds of behaviors they would generally exhibit outside of a formal classroom setting.
- Notice words and small gestures: Things like tone and inflection can mean the difference between a mean and intimidating phrase and a joke between friends. Small gestures can also escalate into larger ones so pay attention to all gestures and general body language.
- Pay attention to small groups: Look for things like who’s in charge, who’s left out. When they work together in small groups or commune in the hallways or bathroom, pay attention to their interactions. Keeping track of someone who is bossy or inclusive and notice who’s being left out.
- And children who could potentially be targeted: Generally speaking, students who have special needs or disabilities are often targeted more than those who do not. Teach children to stand up for each other and to help those that can’t help themselves or have a harder time speaking up.
At Captain McFinn, we teach kids important life skills as soon as we can — like talking, saying “please” and “thank you,” taking care of their smiles by brushing their teeth every day, how to eat healthy, contributing as part of the family by doing chores, and so much more. So why wouldn’t we want to teach preschoolers, kindergarteners and elementary school kids about bullying?