During my first year teaching preschool I was often surprised when I saw a child being bullied. These were 4-year-old babies! I had shoes older than these children. One of my first experiences with bullying in my classroom happened while I was sitting down sorting paperwork. I always had one ear on everything going on:
Jane played in the dress up center. She put on a pink princess dress and began twirling around. Aly sat at the table putting together a puzzle. She looked over at me, to see if I was watching ( I could see her from the corner of my eye). Then she turned toward Jane and whispered You look really ugly in that dress. Take it off!
I was shocked! It took me a moment to digest that statement before I reacted. I stressed how what she said really hurt her friend. Would she want someone to say that to her? But by the end of my speech I felt like I was not getting through to her.
As each class passed through it was the same. There was always a bully, more than one. Gender did not matter.
I think it is important to understand what it means to be a bully. Often we might confuse normal preschool interaction as bullying. For example:
Frank and Brian are running in the playground. Frank wants to play tag, but Brian does not. Frank pushes Brian down shouting Tag! You’re it!! Brian runs over to the teacher crying. She consoles him and tells him to play with another group of children. He wipes his eyes and runs over to Frankie again.
Frank is too rough, but the interaction the two boys were having was normal. Children do not always agree and sometimes they might be pushed, but that does not necessarily make the child who pushed a bully.
Definition of Bully
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting and/or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation using gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); and sending insulting messages by phone or computer e-mail (cyberbullying). http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Warning_Signs_Child/
Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied In Preschool
1. They cling to you not wanting to walk into the classroom.
2. Your child used to love school, but now they do not.
3. Appears anxious or nervous when discussing school or going to school.
4. Your child has unexplained bumps and bruises.
In preschool your child may have separation anxiety, which might have nothing to do with being bullied. Separation anxiety will cause your child to cling to you and not want to go. This is why it is crucial to maintain strong communication with your child’s teacher. You have to be able to trust them.
What Should Your Child’s Teacher Being Doing To Help
1. They need to take bullying seriously.
2. They need to be aware of what is going on in the classroom and stop bullying immediately.
3. When you discuss bullying with them they need to tell you what they are doing to prevent it.
4. They need to have an open door policy so that parents can come and observe the classroom.
5. They need to listen to your child cry for help.
Is My Child The Bully? Signs That Your Child Is A Bully
1. Your child shows aggression towards adults.
2. Your child shows little empathy towards others.
3. Your child can be described as a ‘hot head’.
4. Your child is insecure.
5. If your child smiles when they hurt someone.
6. If your child is sneaky (Aly made sure I was not paying attention before she bullied Jane). This shows that they know what they are doing is wrong.
Why Do Children Bully?
Bullying is a learned behavior. There is someone in their life that they are imitating. Often times their parents or older siblings are bullying them and they have to make a decision:
1. Become a victim or
2. Become aggressive (verbally or physically)
Over the years I’ve spoken to many parents, whose children were bullying in the classroom. Some of those parents I found to be very intimidating and closed off to the conversation. Of course, there were parents who wanted to change their child’s behavior, but the intimidating ones out numbered them.
What Else Can We Do??
Teachers need to reinforce empathy daily in the classroom. Children who show empathy need to be pointed out more often and praised. Not a day should go by where a parent or a teacher is not talking to children about how they should act towards others.
Often teachers become tired of children telling on each other. They need to push for children to tell on each other when someone is being hurt (physically, emotionally). Children need to be show how to tell on each other to help someone, not hurt someone. There will always be bullies. We need to show children how to stand up for each other.
- Bullying is UNACCEPTABLE, Will you speak up? (lisakwalker.wordpress.com)
- Three Faces of Bullying (mwoods228.wordpress.com)
- The Horrible Word: Bully (parentingthebulliedchild.wordpress.com)
- Bullying Awareness (advicesister.wordpress.com)
- Bullying Prevention: Tips for Teachers, Principals, and Parents | Edutopia (pluk.mt.typepad.com)