How to Deal with Bullying Behavior in Your Child: 6 Steps
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Tell your preschooler bullying leaves bruises on the inside.


The bullies of the silver screen are usually popular, tall, good-looking dudes with names like Butch or Biff. But in real life, bullies come in all shapes and sizes, races, colors and creeds, and can be either gender. Bullies tend to be insecure, picking on seemingly weaker people to feel better about themselves. Little kids can also develop into bullies as they watch bullying take place in their own homes. Curbing aggressive behavior in toddlers can be as simple as "no hitting." But for the more emotionally sophisticated preschooler, a lesson in empathy is key.

EditSteps

  1. 1
    Sit your preschooler down and tell him in no uncertain terms that bullying will not be tolerated. Make eye contact and let him know you mean business. Explain that bullying is hitting, scratching, pushing, name-calling or even taking someone else's toy -- anything that makes someone feel bad through words or actions. Let him know the consequences if he bullies someone, and make sure to follow through. For example, if he calls someone a mean name, no play dates for a week.
  2. 2
    Teach your preschooler empathy. Look at pictures of faces with different emotions -- sad, happy, nervous, excited. Ask him, “Why do you think this little boy is sad?” Read him stories and talk about the characters’ emotions; encourage him to ask questions. Be open about your own feelings and give voice to them. “I’m sad because someone at work wasn’t very nice about something I worked very hard on. If they didn’t like it, they should have said it in a nicer way.”
  3. 3
    Read stories that deal with differences -- races, body shapes, religions, etc. Encourage your little munchkin to value the dissimilarities, not ridicule them. “Isn’t it interesting learning about other people’s celebrations? We can learn so much from other people.”
  4. 4
    Praise your preschooler when he’s kind to others. Give him a hug and tell him you’re proud of the way he included the shy little girl in the game of tag. “Katie must feel so happy that you included her. She was feeling a little sad by herself, and you made her smile. I’m so proud of you for being such a good friend.”
  5. 5
    Set a positive example by being kind and respectful of others always. A child who hears his parents ridicule and criticize others may be inclined to do the same.
  6. 6
    Figure out why your little one is bullying. If it’s because he has trouble managing his anger, frustration or insecurity, help him find ways to cope. An overweight preschooler might make fun of a more overweight child to take the focus off of himself. If he’s been picked on in the past, he might be inclined to do the same to someone else. Tell him he looks perfect -- that he's not fat, he's strong -- and remind him how much it hurts to be picked on.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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