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Nipping Bullying in the Bud

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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stop bullying

I don’t know about you, but when I think about bullying in school, I tend to think about older kids. You know, middle school tough guys and mean girls. But I recently had the privilege and the pleasure of interviewing Blythe Hinitz, co-author of The Anti-Bullying and Teasing Book, and Jill Berkowicz, whose thoughtfulness and wisdom has made her a frequent contributor to Studentcentricity, and the topic was the prevention of bullying, beginning in preschool. When I asked Blythe why we had to address a subject like bullying at the preschool level, her answer was simple: because then we wouldn’t have bullying at later grade levels.

Following the interview, Blythe sent more thoughts, along with some valuable resources for teachers.


Adults in the home and group setting set the tone of the environment and protect its safety.

Respect – child-child; adult-child; child-adult and adult-adult is a key element of the peaceful home and school environment.

The continuum of harassment, intimidation, bullying and teasing [HIBT] begins in early childhood with name-calling, making fun of someone, using “put-downs,” taunting, and insulting people. [See full continuum below.]

People, children and adults, must be provided with alternatives to HIBT behaviors. Behavior is never “unlearned,” however inappropriate behaviors can be replaced with appropriate behaviors such as those identified in the accompanying trade books [sent previously] and adult resources.

Continuum of Teasing and Bullying


Making fun of someone.

Calling someone names

Using put –downs


Verbal Bullying (used by both boys and girls)




Making threats

Insulting family members

Relational or Psychological Bullying (begins as early as three years of age)

Intentionally excluding someone

Telling lies about someone

Talking behind someone’s back.

Spreading rumors

Physical Bullying (seen more among boys)

Making faces


Hitting or Kicking

Pushing or Shoving

Taking or destroying property

Repetitive Physical Abuse

Adult Resources (in addition to The Anti-Bullying and Teasing Book in English and Spanish):

Right From the Start in the Digital Age Initiative – Froschel & Sprung fhi360 – position paper


Right From the Start in the Digital Age: Curricula Activities for Teachers and Parents to

Help Children Become Good Digital Citizens – Sprung & Froschl [updated Quit It!]


Child Trends August 2015

Understanding and Addressing the Early Childhood Origins of “Mean” Behavior and

Bullying: Resources for Practitioners – Research Brief


Bullies in the Block Area: The Early Childhood Origins of “Mean” Behavior – report


Trade Book list  [Y] = younger children; [M] = Grades 2 & up

Gogoll, Martine Rosie’s Story [Y]

Henkes, Kevin Chrysanthemum [Y]

Hoffman, M.  & Binch, C.  Amazing Grace [Y]

Kinney, Susan Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon [Y]

Kraus, Robert Leo the Late Bloomer [Y]

McCloud, Carol Have You Filled a Bucket Today? [Y]

Parr, Todd  It’s Okay to be Different [Y]

Scheuer, Karen A Bug and A Wish [Y]

Troiano, Joe The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin [Halloween] [Y]

Troiano, Joe Spookley the Square Pumpkin [Thanksgiving] [Y]

Van Genechten, Guido Flop-Ear [Y]

Wells, Rosemary Yoko [Y]

Yaccarino, Dan Unlovable [Y]

Zolotow, Charlotte The Hating Book [Y]

Zolotow, Charlotte The Quarreling Book [Y]

Bateman, Teresa The Bully Blockers Club [M]

Couric, Katie The Brand New Kid [M]

O’Neill, A. & Huliska-Beith, L. The Recess Queen [M]

Polacco, Patricia Thank you, Mr. Falker [M]

Finally, here is Jill’s takeaway:

The smallest bullies are copying adult behavior, or are unable to express themselves in words, or feel inadequate and think demeaning others will make them feel more important. They are our little ones. Helping them to find the words, feel empowered as learners (remembering play is learning for them), and express what they are feeling is key. Punishment only informs everyone, including the bystanders, that the behavior is bad, but it does little to educate. The little ones are the best place we can invest. Help them discover their feelings and help them learn the words and actions they need without having to hurt others. We need this now more than ever; beginning with the little ones is essential.

We are not living in the kindest of worlds right now -- so I agree with Jill. It's never been more important for us to promote kindness and nip bullying in the bud before it begins!

You can listen to the interview by clicking here.


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Rae Pica has been an education consultant specializing in the development and education of the whole child, children's physical activity, and active learning since 1980. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of 19 books, including the text Experiences in Movement and Music and, most recently, What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children's Lives. Rae has shared her expertise with such groups as the Sesame Street Research Department, the Head Start Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, Gymboree, Nike, and state health departments throughout the country. She is a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences and is co-founder of BAM Radio Network, where she hosts Studentcentricity, interviewing experts in education, child development, play research, the neurosciences, and more on teaching with students at the center.

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Guest Sunday, 17 February 2019