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Ramon Sticks up for Himself: a story about Bullying

Bullying is a very serious problem, for both the bully and the victim. Oftentimes, young children may not be aware that they are bullying.

Two and three year olds

Two and three year olds are not able to understand bullying. Hitting, biting and other signs of aggression are usually motivated by the young child’s wish to get their own way rather than by a wish to belittle others.

What you can do

Encourage your child to play well with others, to share, and to be aware of others feelings. Praise your young child when he or she does something nice for others. Do not allow your child to physically hurt another child—explain firmly that this behavior is not acceptable. If a child consistently has trouble controlling aggression, you consult with his or her teachers or a professional for help in dealing with the situation.

Four and five year olds

Four and five year olds, especially if they attend school, are beginning to develop good social skills. They are capable of sharing, of taking turns, of being pleasant to other children. They are also somewhat fickle, and change friends easily. Sometimes at this age attachments are stronger for some children than others, and this can lead to hurt feelings. Children may start calling each other names at this age.

What you can do

Explain to your child that you expect him or her to treat others the same way they expect to be treated. If your child shows a pattern of aggression or name calling, you should act immediately to stop the behavior and impose logical consequences. You should also look for the roots of the behavior. Often bullies actually feel insecure or powerless and bully someone else to give them a sense of superiority and power.

Six and seven year olds

Six and seven year olds should have a developed sense of how to treat others, especially if they’ve been in school settings for a while. At this age, children should know how to treat others respectfully, should know not to hit, and should begin to know how to defend themselves verbally if they are being bullied.

What you can do

Encourage positive social interactions among your children. Praise children for being thoughtful, for using self-restraint even if they are angry or upset, and for sharing. Do not allow hitting, pinching or any physical violence between your children. Ask your child what is going on in class frequently. If you think your child is being bullied, speak to your child’s teacher immediately. Teach your child to speak up for him or herself, to tell a teacher, or to make other friends. If you think your child is bullying others, ask your child about his or her behavior. Try to figure out why your child is being aggressive. Set clear rules for your child about physical violence, about respecting others, about respecting diversity, and about being kind. Speak to the teacher and make a plan to prevent your child from bullying others. Be proactive–bullying is not acceptable!

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