Kelly Van Nelson.
From as young as three, children are beginning to learn about their own feelings as well as how to socialise with others in environments like preschool.
Parents, carers, and teachers who educate children in their earliest years are well placed to influence behaviour and teach the importance of developing healthy friendships and social relationships that can prevent issues with bullying arising later in their childhood.
Bullying preventative measures you can teach children from a young age
- Talk with children from an early age about bullying and the impact it has on others feeling happy. Help them develop positive social skills. Let them know bullying will not be tolerated and that everyone must work together to make sure it does not occur.
- Model positive behaviours. Children of a young age look up to adults. Keeping aggression to a minimum in front of a child and creating a positive environment for children to thrive in will instil a sense of what is normal behaviour at a very early age.
- Restrict access to violence on TV, video games and in other forums so they do not mimic something they have seen.
- Set simple boundaries and rules about what is acceptable in play situations with friends. Teach them about the importance of sharing, allowing everyone to join in games and to be friendly to one another.
- Educate children about behaviour that is unacceptable, for example, pinching, pushing and shoving, other physical assault, as well as calling others hurtful names or socially excluding a child from a group activity.
- Express the importance of apologising when they have done something wrong.
- If a difficult situation has occurred, talk about it. Give examples of how another way of handling the situation could have been better. For example, if a child has a fight over a toy, talk to them about how taking turns is a good way to solve the problem.
- Encourage children to tell an adult if someone is being hurt or made to feel unhappy so you can help them solve the problem.
- Monitor for warning signs of bullying and address it early so the situation does not escalate.
- If a child is being bullied in preschool, show your child you love and support them. Coach them on assertiveness so they develop calm confidence and can tell the bully to 'stop'. Talk to your early education teacher about a plan of action.