It isn’t easy to understand why some children bully others. After all, children are so young, and it’s not as if there’s a specific bullying gene that makes kids predisposed to being mean. Sometimes children bully others because they’re having problems at home or because they don’t understand how to interact with their peers in a non-bullying way.
Baby isn’t quite old enough yet for an in-depth talk about the psychology of bullying and how their actions can affect other kids’ feelings, but there are small things you can do to teach your child how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way.
Starting at home
Much of the time, a child’s behavior reflects what they experience and observe at home. If they see expressions of anger or intimidation being used during conflict, it’s possible that they will try some of the same behavior at daycare or school. Baby might see this behavior from the people who live in or visit your home, but it could also come through media like television, movies, or books.
If you’re watching a show or reading a book where a character is exhibiting bullying behavior, think about stopping for a minute and talking to Baby about it. Why did that character say what he said? How do you think it made his friend feel? Was that a nice thing to do? What would you have said if you were there? Helping Baby understand bullying is a good step toward teaching your child not to bully.
Making sure you’re resolving conflict around Baby in a healthy way is a good strategy for modeling non-bullying behavior. It’s very easy to speak without thinking during a time of stress, but you can think of disagreements at home as learning opportunities for Baby. Because you’re trying to raise a child who chooses their words nicely, and respects the people around them even when they disagree with them, it helps to be thoughtful with your own choice of words during arguments or conflicts.
They won’t always be able to understand everything you’re saying, but by keeping your voice even and staying calm, they can pick up that grownups don’t yell or fight to solve their problems. This way, Baby can see how people can be nice to each other even when they’re disagreeing. They can learn from the best!
You can make it a little easier for Baby to figure out the world by being clear about which of their actions you’re really excited about. If they do something simple like saying a nice thing or cleaning up their toys, take a moment to tell them how much you appreciate it.
On a similar note, it could be helpful to point out times when Baby isn’t being as kind. Having firm boundaries on the types of behavior that you won’t tolerate will help Baby understand how to interact with people. If you see Baby hitting people or taking toys from other children, you can tell them something like, “We don’t do that. That’s not nice.” As Baby gets older, you can talk about what this kind of behavior means for other people, and what they can do differently next time.
The bottom line
Taking positive action toward teaching Baby not to bully is a wonderful step toward creating the world’s greatest adult. Yes, they will throw tantrums and get mad when they are not supposed to – it’s a natural part of growing up. Make it clear that Baby can come to you with problems and conflicts, and the two of you will be able to work them out together.
- “Why do kids bully?” Stomp Out Bullying. STOMP Out Bullying, 2007-2016. Web.