In her Exchange article, “Teasing, Bullying and Being Left Out,” Meg Thomas urges early childhood educators and administrators not to ignore the problem of bullying.
“But, you say, I’m teaching preschool,” she writes. “My children are too young to be doing any serious bullying and I don’t want to give them any ideas. Well, many of our preschoolers are too young to read too, but that doesn’t stop us from introducing the fundamental skills they’ll need in order to read later in life. We don’t introduce them to complicated spelling rules, or try to get them to read War and Peace, but we do help them learn the basic concepts they’ll need to know in order to become fluent readers later on…
We also need to start teaching them basic skills for standing up for themselves and others in the face of teasing and bullying, so that strong effective responses come automatically to them when they need them.”
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I agree with the premise, but I don't agree we should ever be using the word BULLY or describing children's behavior as pre-bully behavior. These words are being over used. They are strong words and parents and teachers are latching onto them with associations and negative implications for how they view young children. Language is powerful. Bully becomes a label and ironically, by using it we enter into a culture of bullying where another person is demonized. We need to rise above all this as early educators. We need a new way to talk about exclusion and other social challenges for preschool children. Adopting the language of "bully" is not helpful.