Preschool Care and Bullying
If we can teach our children to care for one another and to respect our differences, we are fulfilling a very important function for the future of our planet. Preschool care is often the first opportunity for children to learn how to interact with others.
The preschool teacher must be able to recognize the children who display behavior that leads to bullying and those who may become the victims. Aggressive behavior is common in little children. They need to be taught to be gentle and to share. However, when the actions are repeatedly malicious, and directed towards only one child, this is a problem and is considered bullying. If this behavior continues, other children may be drawn into the situation. These actions can be overt or they can be subtle. And with preschoolers it is usually it is an ongoing problem that the teacher has to deal with on a daily basis.
Focusing attention on the bully rather than the victim is useful. Often there are underlying reasons: the child may come from an unstable background, have little or no routine, or have communication problems. Angry aggressive behavior may be their only way of coping.
Recognizing a victim of bullying
If your child is scared to go to preschool, it could be a sign that he is being bullied. Other signs include if he is unusually clingy, complains of aches for no reason, or seems withdrawn and depressed. He may also have trouble concentrating and not want to talk about school.
Three of the most important social skills for preventing and dealing with bullying are:
1. Social problem solving
Preschool teachers use the best resources to teach children problem solving, teaching one skill at a time through role-playing, stories, and real situations. They are taught to deal with consequences of their actions. Alternative solutions to violence and aggression are instilled at an early age. Listening skills and communication skills help children to understand and deal with strong feelings. Teaching children problem solving at school can also help them deal with situations at home that may be causing anxiety or resulting in a bully-nature.
To help children develop empathy skills the preschool teacher will teach children to talk about their feelings and discuss how it feels to be bullied. Encouraging children to describe and label their feelings helps them to understand and care for each other. Children learn that even though we are different, we all experience the same feelings. Children will either have a great deal of empathy, or they may come from a family where disregard or even hate is displayed towards others. The responsible preschool teacher will teach by constant example.
With preschool care, children learn assertiveness, self-reliance, and self-confidence. It is important that this is not competitive. Girls and boys are motivated equally. Learning gross motor skills that make use of both sides of the body, such as balancing and dance, helps children with assertiveness. Children must be taught that they are entitled to fair treatment from adults and children, and that they can say ‘no’ politely and firmly. They also learn to accept ‘no’ from others.
Understanding that these years are the formative ones, we strive to educate our children to be caring, responsible, and independent.