Helping our children stand up for themselves is also important in the fight against bullying. As children get older, and there comes a situation where a peer is looking for someone to pick on, it is important that our children not be seen as “easy targets.”
Children who are easy targets are ones who over-react, who don’t have a good support network and who don’t speak up.
So, to bully-proof our children we need to:
Help them make friends: Some children will need more help than others to make friends. They may be shy, or they may have difficulties with communication or social skills. Teaching children how to be friends, and helping them connect with children who like playing the same things, is very important in the early years. You might also want to set children up with buddies who will play with and look out them.
Help them be resilient: I recently spoke on my blog about the “hand diagram” (Rigby, 2008). This is a visual way of helping children remember what to do when they feel threatened. Basically, it is about teaching children a series of strategies to try when dealing with bullying.
i. Ignore… if that doesn’t work…
ii. Walk away … if that doesn’t work…
iii. Ask nicely (Calmly asking their peer to stop) … if that doesn’t work…
iv. Say, “Stop!” (Firmly standing up to the child) … if that doesn’t work…
v. Ask for help (Only telling a teacher once they have tried to solve the problem themselves)
This may be too complex for very young children, so starting by teaching them to say, “Stop! I don’t like it!” is the first step in the process. One of the aims of my book, Dave is Brave, is to teach this skill.
A final note
When it comes to bullying in the pre-school years, it is important to keep things in perspective. Looking at behaviour with an understanding of child development and the reason why a child might be acting a certain way is important to helping us change behaviour in the long-term. It can help us change the perception that “once a bully, always a bully.”
And if we start early teaching children how to make friends, how to stand up for themselves, and how to solve their own social difficulties, we are more likely to see our children grow up to be confident, well-adjusted and resilient no matter what life throws at them.
This is the final post presented in our bullying series by Amanda of Learn to be Buddies. Should you have any questions for Amanda based on your own experiences or anything you have read in her posts, please leave a comment below.
Reference: Rigby, K. (2008). Children and Bullying: How Parents and Educators can Reduce Bullying at School. Blackwell Publishing: Victoria
- Stopping Bullying Before It Begins: Part 1
- Stopping Bullying Before It Begins: Part 2
- Does Bullying Begin at Preschool?