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Young Bullies

Preschoolers, like all other children, are often faced with bullies. Although it seems a rather young age for such cruel behavior, the fact remains that anyone involved in a social environment, such as school, will deal with bullies in one way or another. If your child is being bullied, or is a bully, there are several things you can do to stop inappropriate behavior and teach your child to act in a caring manner.

What Parents Can Do About Young Bullies?

Young bullies often act out because they feel vulnerable and want to feel tough. A new social environment, especially to preschoolers and kindergarteners, can be overwhelming and cause children to act out in cruel ways that may not even be characteristic of their personalities. To stop kids from fighting, calling names, stealing, and being mean, parents should teach them what bullying really is and how it can hurt others.

  • Communicate. Odds are, children in this age range don't know what a bully is. Sure, they may know that one of their classmates always takes their snack, pushes them out of line for recess, or hogs all the best toys in the classroom, but they may not understand why these actions are wrong beyond the fact that they are hurtful. Explain what a bully is and teach your kids not to be scared of bullies, but to be accepting of them as individuals without putting up with their cruel behavior. Befriending a bully can often put a stop to the cruelty.
  • Watch who your children play with. Because preschoolers are new to the classroom environment they may be bullied without even realizing it. Keep a close eye on your child and make sure that any issues with bullies are addressed.
  • Work with the teacher. Your child's teacher knows better than anyone if your child is being targeted by bullies or bullying others. Maintaining regular correspondence with teachers can help you address classroom issues at home. If a problem continues after the teacher disciplines a student for bullying your child you should contact the bully's parents and make them aware of the situation.

Parenting Means Helping Them Grow

Remember that just because a preschooler exhibits the behavior of a bully doesn't mean that he or she is a bad kid. Encourage your child to play with others who are nice-- including a bully who has improved his or her behavior. These early years are crucial for development, so keep in mind that just because a child hit or stole yesterday doesn't mean that he or she will be a bully forever.