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.”
"Out of the Box" Training Kits, such as "Choosing Courage in a Climate Of Fear," help trainers and administrators address current issues with staff in an effective and efficient way.
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The reality is, as ECE teachers, we already are teaching about bullying. Since one of the primary developmental hurdles for this age is to explore the concept of POWER, in all of its manifestations, we should hopefully already be helping children to understand its dynamics-wanting to have it, what it feels like to not have it, feeling so disempowered that the drive to get it at all costs affects behavior, what it feels like to have it lorded over you, etc etc. Any teacher worth his/her salt knows that if they don't address this developmental stage, they are missing an opportunity to create a foundation for later explorations of POWER in more consequential situations.
As an authority and the author of Stop Bullying Now, there is no question....all aspects of bullying and more so bullying prevention such as COMPASSION needs to be taught from conception. I also have a children's character building program , I Believe I Can Fly! which wires kids for health, happiness and success and PREVENTS so many of the social challenges our children overcoming.
Preschoolers are never too young to understand about bullying, as far as explaining to them on their level. Communication is very important at any young age when children start to intermingle with one another. Every child's personality is different, & I believe communication starts at home, but sometimes a teacher must be of help with gentle assistance & understanding in an explanation to a child.
We can teach them about bullying without using the actual word. All that needs to be done is to teach them the right way to get along with peers in word and deed and by modeling the way we want them to be.
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.