Child sad after bullyingBullying is typically a problem that affects school-age children, particularly children in elementary school and middle school. So why address it as early as the toddler and preschool years? Many of the factors that increase bullying behavior later in childhood actually occur during the first few years of toddlerhood and early childhood education. Being on the lookout for these factors is important when parenting young children, especially if they attend a daycare or childcare center.

First of all, children reflect what they see at home in their own behavior. When parents behave in a way that is disrespectful to one another, to their children, or to friends and family members, children take these words and actions as cues. Of course, adults will occasionally snap at one another or have a disagreement. But verbal and physical abuse, harsh discipline, and flaring tempers are behaviors that may impact bullying behavior of children in the future. On the flip side, positive engagement with one another and with children on the part of parents will model respect and kindness.  

Make sure your children are not witnessing violence or being exposed to maltreatment in any sphere of their lives.  If you have a calm, respectful, and kind home, but your child consistently sees a cousin, neighbor, or friend becoming the victim of abuse, that may impact the way your child behaves in the future. Witnessing violence and abuse is traumatic to young children, and this trauma can manifest as low self esteem, depression, anxiety, and bullying behaviors in the future.

Keep an eye on the kind of television, movies, and YouTube channels your child is exposed to. Studies have shown that increased television viewing can increase aggressive behavior in children at their daycare, preschool, or elementary school. Make sure that your child is watching age-appropriate TV shows, and steer them away from violence. Shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street are better alternatives and can teach children valuable lessons about kindness and generosity, as well as enhance emotional growth.

Work with your child on building emotional intelligence during their toddler years. Encourage them to notice the feelings of others, examine their own feelings, whether they are happy, frustrated, or sad, and talk about their feelings with you. You can even speak with your child’s daycare teachers to ask them how they address big feelings when they come up in the classroom. They will likely have some verbiage or even some books or resources to recommend. Talking with your pediatrician is also a great idea, as they may have additional resources to share.

If you are looking for the best daycare center in Monroe, check out our curriculum online and schedule a tour of Child’s World Academy. And, if you have advice for your fellow parents, please tell us in the comments section!