Written by Barbara Gilmour.  NJ Mom Squad Team.

I started a discussion in my last blog about bullying behavior beginning as young as 5, in kindergarten. If that is true, and I don’t doubt the reports, we need to rethink how we are dealing with bullying issues today. This is a widespread problem that is not going away.

One of the studies I cited in the last blog was the Penn State/Head Start study that found “preschoolers who were given social skills training in addition to the normal numbers and letters, were better equipped for kindergarten and performed better throughout their school years.” I’m amazed that it has taken so long for research to catch up with the social skills experts who have been saying for a long time, that teaching these skills at young ages can positively impact kids’ behavior and can contribute to bullying prevention.

Let me offer some easily relatable examples. Children who are taught empathy, acceptance and tolerance at home, before going to school, will be better able to relate to the different children they will meet at school. Children who are taught basic table manners are less likely to be teased at snack or cafeteria time. Children who have been taught to love and respect themselves, and to take care of their bodies are less likely to be targets of teasing, name-calling, or even exclusion. Children, who have been supported, encouraged, and had their confidence built up by parents and caregivers will be better able to reject bullying.

I found some other tips for both teachers and parents regarding bullying in a report (by Andrea Cohn and Andrea Canter, Pd.D., NCSP National Association of School Psychologists) that you might find interesting. ”Today, schools typically respond tobullying, or other school violence, with reactive measures. However, that usually results in long-term negative effects.”


What Can Schools Do?

Early intervention Researchers advocate intervening in elementary or middle school, or as early as preschool. Group and building-wide social skills training is highly recommended. Parent training Parents must learn to reinforce their children’s positive behavior patterns and model appropriate interpersonal interactions.”

What Can Parents Do?

Provide positive feedback to children for appropriate social behaviors and model interactions that do not including bullying or aggression. Stop bullying behavior as it is happening and begin working on appropriate social skills early.”

We can make progress in stopping bullying by beginning to teach our young children better ways of behaving. Kindness and compassion can replace meanness and rudeness. Tolerance and
acceptance can replace bigotry and intolerance. Equality can replace inequality. It starts with small efforts, but can end with big results.

Cool Kind Kid(C) Cool Kind Kid