Character Development

  • Can we all get along?

    Prevent bullying for young children through understanding

    What is bullying?

    Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both children who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.  Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

    In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

    • An Imbalance of Power:  Children who bully use their power, such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm others.  Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

    • Repetition:  Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

    Early childhood often marks the first opportunity for young children to interact with each other. Between the ages of 3 and 5, kids are learning how to get along with each other, cooperate, share, and understand their feelings.  Young children may be aggressive and act out when they are angry or don’t get what they want, but this is not bullying.  Still, there are ways to help young children.

    Parents, school staff, and other adults can help young children develop skills for getting along with others in age-appropriate ways:

    • Model positive ways for young children to make friends. For example, practice pleasant ways that children can ask to join others in play and take turns in games; coach older children to help reinforce these behaviors; praise children for appropriate behavior; help young children understand friendly behaviors.

    • Help young children learn the consequences of certain actions in terms they can understand. For example, say “if you don't share, other children may not want to play with you.” Encourage young children to tell an adult if they are treated in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, upset or unhappy, or if they witness other children being harmed.

    • Set clear rules for behavior and monitor children's interactions carefully. Step in quickly to stop aggressive behavior or redirect it before it occurs.

    • Use age-appropriate consequences for aggressive behavior. Young children should be encouraged to say "I'm sorry" whenever they hurt a peer, even accidentally. The apology should also be paired with an action. For example, young children could help rebuild a knocked over block structure or replace a torn paper or crayons with new ones.

    When children enter school, they encounter a wider community of new relationships.  They are still learning social skills but need help in making good choices in the way they relate to others.  Sometimes children in K-2 can be mean to others.  This is often motivated by immature reactions from a child who is still in the self-centered stage of social development.  They need to be taught how to get along with others and that other people have feelings, different experiences, different likes and dislikes and that if just fine.

    When does being mean become bullying?  All potentially mean actions become bullying when they create an imbalance of power and are repeated over time.  Bullying in the elementary grades includes:

    Physical bullying:

    • Hitting, kicking, or pushing someone, or even just threatening to do it

    • Stealing, hiding or ruining someone's things

    • Making someone do physical things he or she doesn’t want to do

    Verbal bullying:

    • Name-calling

    • Teasing

    • Insulting

    Relationship bullying:

    • Refusing to talk to someone

    • Spreading lies or rumors about someone

    • Making someone do anythings he or she doesn't want to do

    How can we help?

    Friendship building and anti-bullying can be taught through personal discussion, group discussion, modeling, the use of creative web sites and through children’s literature. At FMES we celebrate different character traits monthly. In September, the character trait is "Responsibility." We use children's literature to help guide our conversations around this theme. Click here for a list of titles to support this theme. 

    The following are websites that give direction, information and are a good source for discussion:

    Stop Bullying

    A federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

    Sesame Street

    Watch and discuss The Good Bird Club

    The Playground Kids Anti Bullying Message

    Net Smartz Kids

    NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on and offline.  The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement.  With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates

    It’s My Life

    “When things are going great with our friends, life is good. When things are going not-so-great, life can turn super-crummy, super-fast. Many of you wrote to us to share your experiences and questions about what happens when friends fight.”

    Kids Health – Friendship

    Everybody needs friends.  You can feel very sad and lonely if you don't have someone to play with and be with - it happens to everybody sometimes.  Here are some ideas to help you in making friends and keeping friends.  Having friends is also about how to be a friend and how to be a friend to yourself.