6 Ways to Protect Preschoolers and Kindergarteners from Bullying
Preschool and kindergarten have long been considered a home away from home for young kids—from learning the alphabet to sharing blocks, the last thing you’d expect to find among such a young group is bullying.
However, young children may participate in bullying—as victims or perpetrators—even more often than older kids. Between the ages of 3 and 5, children are still learning a great deal about how to get along with others—and they’re less experienced in solving the problems that arise when playing with others. Thus, they’ll use aggression to solve problems, rather than more effective ways of conflict resolution.
Getting Along with Others
Prior to elementary school, kids learn about important life skills, such as making friends, sharing toys, and solving disagreements. Since these aren’t intuitive for young kids, they can be very difficult skills to master—leading to frustration and acting out. When preschoolers and kindergarteners get frustrated, they often react by saying or doing things that hurt others. For example, they may yell, call names, push and shove, or banish children from their group of friends.
Playing alone and with others is a common practice for both preschoolers and kindergarteners, allowing them to develop skills necessary for forming friendships and building relationships. However, some children—such as kids with multiple siblings or lots of play dates—have an easier time interacting with others. Kindergarteners have had more opportunities to play with other children than preschoolers, so they generally are more skilled at making pals on the playground. Additionally, kindergarteners are more likely to form close friendships, better at reading social cues, better at conflict resolution, more able to support and stand up for allies, better at controlling their impulses, more aware of their feelings and play alone less often then their tiny counterparts.
How Bullying Changes
Putting aggressive children together who are unaware of how to deal with conflict is a recipe for bullying incidents. However, because your kid’s ability to get along with others changes between preschool and kindergarten, the likelihood of conflict—as well as the type of bullying—changes too. Early experiences will teach your child how to get along with others, which can mean protection from bullying in the future. For example, four- and five-year-old kids are better at stopping bullies, protecting their friends from aggression and solving conflicts in healthy ways.
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