Although nobody likes to think that their child could bully, no little one is immune from pressures, and may resort to bullying. As KidsHealth explains, there are reasons kids bully, and they need help learning how to cope positively with those triggers.
If you take the opportunity while your child is still young, you can teach him or her how to choose not to bully. His or her behaviors in daycare and preschool will be a good indication of how he or she will act in school. Here are some things to try to help your little one learn not to bully:
Teach empathy. Help your child realize that when he or she is mean to another kid, that kid’s feelings are hurt. Role play, or ask, “How would you feel if someone said or did _____ to you?” Help your little one realize that when he or she does or says mean things, it hurts other people the same way it would hurt him or her. Teach your little one the Golden Rule: do to other people what you want them to do to you.
Don’t allow bullying at home. If you have more than one child at home, teach them not to be mean or bossy to each other to get their way. Encourage them to ask each other kindly for things. If they treat each other unkindly, let them know their actions are not acceptable. If you only have one child at home, it may be harder to enforce a “no bullying allowed” policy, but you can still teach your child to respect you and not yell or do unkind things to get his or her way.
Help your child to “make up for it”. If you hear that your child has bullied other kids at daycare or preschool or on playdates, teach him or her that it’s important to make his or her actions right. Go with him or her to apologize to the other child, and perhaps ask the other child’s parent what your child can do to make it right.
Figure out why your child bullies. If your child has a habit of bullying other children, try to find the root of the problem. It may be that he or she feels powerless in other circumstances, so when it comes to other kids, he or she tries to control. Or your little one may feel hurt by other kids, so he or she reacts in kind. Or your child may still be working through a me-centered view, thinking that the world revolves around him or her. When you discover the source of your child’s behavior, work through it at home. KidsHealth offers insight to help you think through causes of bullying behavior.
Be an example. You are your child’s role model. When he or she sees you lash out or get angry when you don’t get your way or when you feel out of control, your little one will follow your example. Help your child learn not to bully by learning to express your own negative feelings in a better way.