Bullying can emerge in early childhood.
Children as young as age 3 can and do participate in bullying. We often see the emergence of bullying in early childhood settings, such as daycare, preschool, home care groups, play groups, and kindergarten classrooms.
Early childhood settings provide an opportunity for educators to effectively prevent and stop the emergence of bullying behavior and to foster the development of positive social interactions.
If you don’t know that bullying happens among young children, you won’t see it or stop it.
Teachers in early childhood settings often overlook bullying, for a variety of reasons. They may think that young children are too naïve and innocent to bully and that they are incapable of deliberate behaviors that are intended to harm other children. They may dismiss or ignore unacceptable behaviors, saying, “Kids will be kids” or labeling particular children as “challenging.” Teachers may also fail to see the bullying because there is inadequate supervision or because it happens when adults are not watching. They may fail to understand that early or “pre-bullying” behaviors will turn into bullying.
When early childhood educators have a clear understanding of bullying in young children, this opens their eyes to dealing with it effectively.
If you don’t stop bullying, it will grow and spread.
If bullying in the early years is overlooked or not stopped, young children who bully will continue to bully as they get older, and children who are victimized will continue to suffer. In fact, bullying may spread as other children see opportunities to engage in bullying. If left unchecked, patterns of bullying and victimization will persist into adolescence and even adulthood, resulting in abusive teen dating relationships, and eventually domestic violence or other criminal activities.
The good news is that bullying is preventable.
When early childhood educators are prepared, they can nip bullying in the bud.
When teachers of young children are prepared to address bullying effectively, they can create bullying-free learning environments. Based on research and best practices, we now have the knowledge and the strategies to keep children safe in early childhood settings.
Teachers can help children build the social skills to interact in positive ways and to develop resilience against bullying.
Find out how to stop bullying before it starts.
To effectively help prevent and stop the emergence of bullying in early childhood settings, there are specific things that educators need to understand and be prepared to do. Eyes on Bullying in Early Childhood is designed to help early childhood educators:
- Understand bullying
- Learn what they can do to prevent bullying
- Use activities to build children’s social skills
- Develop an action plan for intervention