Helping Young Children Understand Bullying

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Early childhood is a magical time for children. Our sons and daughters are mobile and exploring their world for the first time with a zeal for life that is often unmatched. This is also the stage of development where most young children are exposed to peers and encouraged to interact with each other on a more intimate level.

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Typically, between the ages of three and five children have to learn how engage with others, cooperate, communicate emotions, and share toys on a regular basis. Preschoolers are just like everyone else; and when learning new behaviors there will be hiccups along the way. This stage of learning social skills is often marked with aggression and acting out if a child doesn’t get what they desire.

There will be tantrums, arguments, and not-so-nice comments along this journey. Even though this behavior is easy to label as bullying, that is not always the case. Parents need to be aware of normal behaviors, aggressive behaviors, and ways to help children understand bullying at this young age.

How to Understand Preschool Bullies

Not all aggressive behaviors exhibited by our preschoolers are considered bullying. All children will struggle at some point with expressing their feelings, because they haven’t developed these skill sets in the self-awareness or conversation arenas yet. It is common for a wide variety of bullying behaviors to be exhibited in the preschool sect. However, it can be difficult for parents to discern the difference of bullying or immature communication skills.

It is important for parents to know that aggressive behaviors in preschoolers aren’t classified as traditional bullying. Bullying behaviors are easily redirected at this age, but if left uncorrected they can begin a pattern of future bullying. Only when the behaviors become deliberate and are consistently repeated to inflict harm or frighten a peer will they be considered true bullying.

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