Children in daycare are quick to learn social skills; learning how to share, how to play, and how to socialize is important for the developing mind. As children enter early childhood education, their personalities formulate, and relationships are created. As peer dynamics evolve, different social groups are made, and peer pressure tends to be much more prevalent. As a parent/guardian, it is your responsibility to educate your child on what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour while interacting with other kids.
Teach Them Exactly What Bullying Is
Bullying is a form of abuse that is either physical or verbal in nature. There are three defining attributes that define bullying:
- Premeditated: The perpetrator (the bully) has gone out of his or her way to upset or injure someone;
- Recurring: The abuse occurs frequently, or is likely to reoccur in the future;
- Imbalance of Power- The perpetrator seeks to bully an individual that is defenceless or vulnerable
Abuse committed by bullies can occur in many ways; ensure your child understands exactly what bullying looks like:
- Physical Abuse: kicking, punching, slapping, scratching, poking, etc.
- Verbal Abuse: directed laughing, mocking, insulting, or verbal threats, etc.
- Social Bullying: Excluding classmates from activities, spreading lies, etc.
- Cyberbullying: sending mean online messages, taking non-consensual pictures of other kids etc.
Talk & Listen to Your Children Every Day
Ensure that you talk and listen to what your child has to say about their friends. Ask your kid about the friends he or she hangs out with, about the activities they engage in, and whom he or she sits with at lunch. Children tend to be very quiet about their group of friends, so if you can get them to feel relaxed while talking about their social groups, they will also feel comfortable talking to you about any social concerns.
Use Real Life Examples to Help Them Understand Bullying
Children learn through experience, and when they misbehave, instead of punishing them, use it as an opportunity to teach them the correct behaviour. For example, if your child is teasing or picking on their younger sibling, cousin or friend, teach them that their behaviour is unacceptable and that they should be more caring & kinder. Don’t be afraid to use the word ‘bullying’ either, this will help them identify their own actions or words as problematic and make them think twice before they speak or act.
Teach Your Child to Identify Bullying and How to Stand Up to It
When bullying takes place it affects the victims and the bystanders; teach your child to identify bully behaviour and stand up to injustice. Matters do not have to be physical, and simply standing up for victims with their words will do a great job in diffusing a bad situation. Phrases such as, “Quit that, don’t be a bully!” or “Don’t be mean, stop that!” are supporting statements that may encourage others to become engaged and work towards a bully-free environment.