The importance of bullying prevention during early childhood education is often overlooked and underestimated. The values that children learn and the habits they pick up during their primary years are believed to have a significant impact on the personalities they develop in later stages of their youth and even adulthood. That’s why, as childcare providers, it’s imperative to promote anti-bullying activities within your practice, and we’re here to show you how.
Why Children Bully One Another
Before getting into prevention measures, it’s important to understand why kids bully each other. Problems at home, lack of sleep and self-esteem, peer pressure and a number of other factors come into play when determining the reason behind a child’s aggressive behavior. However, not getting enough attention or having a history of being bullied themselves by older peers or siblings greatly contribute to a child’s chances of bullying others.
As difficult as it may seem to understand the implications behind bullying, preventing students from acting out is no walk in the park either. Here are some tried and true ways to fill your daycare with much more harmony and collaboration and a lot fewer threats and insults.
Young children usually find a corner to hide in when they’re doing something wrong. Keep on eye on the hidden areas throughout the center to make sure everything is under control and no one is in danger. Pay close attention to behaviors linked to bullying. Have children been calling each other names? Are toys and resources going missing? Are children’s attitudes and moods shifting? All these can be signs of tension building up between children and many incidents can be stopped even before they have started.
Use Positive Reinforcements
As caregivers and teachers, you can start by modeling the desired behavior, monitoring young children closely, and praising them when they’ve successfully practiced friendly behaviors. Alternatively, once a child is seen behaving inappropriately, it’s also the job of the caretaker to explain to him or her, the faults in his or her actions, as well as the consequences. The consequences of unwanted behavior are equally as important as the praise when it comes to teaching young children right from wrong. They can include decreased playtime, less TV time, or being paired to collaborate with the children they’re having problems with. Whatever the consequence, it should be displeasing enough to encourage children to behave properly without terrifying or traumatizing them.
Set Clear Ground Rules for Behavior
Just as employees start a new job and go through orientations, and probation periods, children must also receive a proper onboarding experience when starting at daycare. Chances are, most of the children that enroll at your center will not have been to a previous daycare center before coming to you, so there’s a world of difference between the attention their parents give them as an only child and how they’re expected to behave around other children their age. Teach them the ground rules upon entering and inform their parents in order for them to follow up at home as well.
It’s important to clarify which behavior is desired within the daycare center, but it’s just as important to monitor a child’s behavior outside of the center. Don’t wait for unwanted incidents of bullying before consulting with a child’s parents. Schedule regular meetings to discuss how their child is behaving at home and don’t underestimate the impact a friendly follow up phone call can have on a parent-teacher relationship. Parent’s* Instant Messaging feature allows for seamless communication with parents at all times, where users can share a child’s observations, behavioral changes and regular daily updates.
Teach Them Right From Wrong
Most young children don’t know what bullying means, let alone the difference between a friendly or unfriendly gesture. Draft charts, create activities, encourage collaboration, and inform them about unwanted behavior in order for them to truly understand the difference. Using puppet demonstrations, videos, and tutorials can all give them a clear visual idea of the types of behaviors that are acceptable and looked down upon both at the daycare center and in life in general.
Show Children They Can Talk to You
Most children are too ashamed to consult an adult when problems arise. It’s your responsibility as a daycare provider and educator to pave the way for open communication. Educate the youth on ways to express themselves and the importance of avoiding bottling up emotions and problems. Scheduling one-on-one time with each student is a great place to start making them feel more comfortable letting their guard down.
Why Prevention is Important Early On
Early social skills play a tremendous role in how young children behave at later stages in life. This includes how well they interact with their peers, how sociable they are, and how well they perform academically.
The first few years are crucial in the development of social skills. Now that you’re aware of some ways to prevent bullying in your daycare, there’s no reason to delay making it a friendlier place. Start by demonstrating and reinforcing desired behavior and meeting unwanted behaviors with suitable consequences, monitoring behavioral changes, and be sure to consult with a child’s parents so they encourage their child to practice friendly behavior at home in parallel.