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)
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.
Physical Bullying (seen more among boys)
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.