Protection From Bullies
Even at a very young age, children can still participate in, and be the victims of, bullying. Perhaps this age group is even more prone to such behavior, because at this time children are still very young and have not yet developed the skills to solve problems that arise when playing with others. As a result, it is common to see children in this age group solve problems by resorting to aggression rather than more effective means of conflict resolution such as empathy. At this stage children are developing the foundation of their skills for interacting with others, and so bullying can be a real truth for young children as much as it is for older children.
However, parental guidance using the following techniques can minimize, deter, and prevent the negative effects bullying has on individual persons.
Encourage Conflict Resolution
As young and inexperienced humans, children are tasked with regulating and managing a plethora of novel feelings and new experiences especially when they are first thrust into the school setting with many other children. Therefore, it is imperative that parents teach their children techniques for managing their feelings while also giving them the vocabulary to identify and then express their feelings, so to quell the incidence of outburst or aggressive behavior. While also teaching them sound emotional regulation skills, parents should also instill problem-solving skills within their child. Parents ought to encourage their children to work through disagreements by validating everyone’s feelings, re-stating the problem, and then asking for possible solutions. By developing strong problem solving skills children are poised to develop healthy and supportive relationships within their peer group. Supportive relationships are key for preventing bullying.
Human beings are social creatures, and parents should do their best to reinforce this integral feature of human nature. Interactions with peers ought to be built on mutual respect for others and an appreciation for differing attitudes, opinions, and physical characteristics. Parents should instill within their child the understanding that everyone is different, being that which makes life as a human remarkable, provided that it is our differences that make each and every individual special. This will allow one’s child to internalize the concept of empathy which will then encourage them to develop a firm understanding of what is right and what is wrong about other children’s activities.
Here empathy can help develop a “think before you act” mentality that will serve the child well into their adult lives. From this basis children can build positive friendships which can then form a defensive perimeter against bullying. Parents should take the lead in this endeavor by aiding in building positive relationships with other children for their child. This includes many avenues which include arranging play-dates, and also sparking conversations with fellow parents while at the park and other social functions. Attending age-appropriate classes is also a great avenue for finding other children for their child to interact with. Moreover, when a child has friends they have a support network that will protect them from bullies.
Those who know and remain silent are guilty of the same offense. Teaching children to vocalize when they are witness to an act of bullying is thus a social imperative. By speaking up children can limit the occurrence of bullying within their play groups which can guide the victim away from the bullying, while also reporting the incident to an adult. Here the child will be empowered to take aggressive action while feeling confident instead of helpless when bullying incidents occur. These techniques can help build children’s self esteem which will healthily lead them into subsequent developmental stages throughout their schooling, and well into their adult lives.