BULLYING & FAT SHAMING STARTS AS YOUNG AS 3 YEARS OLD! LET’S TRY TO NIP IT IN THE BUD.
With school bullying consistently in the media spotlight, most parents are aware that it's a serious problem. That's encouraging—but we're forgetting about our youngest and most vulnerable age group, the toddler and preschool crowd. (“Parenting”)
Before age 3, kids don't have the cognitive ability to feel empathy, says Brenda Nixon, a mom, former preschool teacher, and author of The Birth to Five Book so a child might hurt another kid emotionally or physically, but he doesn't really get how that feels to his playmate. You can't really say that he's being mean. After 3, that changes: "The brain has the ability to understand another point of view, so that's the age that premeditated and purposeful aggression could begin," says Nixon. (“Parenting”)
According to CNN, the "fat is bad" language can start in preschool, and fat is the new ugly on the school playground. Children as young as 3 worry about being fat, 4 and 5-year-olds know "skinny" is good and "fat" is bad, and are calling each other fat as a put down.
Children pick up on stated and unstated messages from their parents and media. When parents are more concerned with weight, the children are more likely to have the same concerns. Whether the mom is talking about dieting because she gained a couple of pounds or “being bad today” by having a piece of cake.
In television, movies and toys, the messages are usually pretty clear: the thin characters are usually good and smart and the fat characters are stupid or evil, says Orenstein, author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter."
Reasons children bully vary:
· The child is imitating behavior they’ve seen before from a parent, sibling or friend.
· The child turns to bullying for attention either from adults or peers.
· The child bullies because it makes him/her feel good to see signs of injury/fear, or misery. This type of bully can be hard to stop.
(Dr. Schlinger, “Parenting”)
Too often, adults take a wait-and-see approach with preschoolers. This does not help the bully or the bullied. If intervention does not take place with the smaller incidents, the problem may escalate to a crisis point or someone gets hurt.
Is your kid the problem? Don't panic if you answered yes. It doesn't necessarily mean your child is a bully. But a child with these traits can turn into a bully, so pay close attention. The biggest red flag is if your child seems to enjoy insulting, shaming or attacking other kids, if so, ask your pediatrician if there's a therapist you can see. It's worrisome behavior, but it can be dealt with.
For any kid who gets close to or crosses the line:
· Talk about playtime. A few reminders about empathy and kindness may tame the insensitive antics. If that doesn't work, try time-outs, no Ipad or TV access and cutting playdates short.
· Discuss consequences. Explain that if the bullying continues, the other kids won't want to play with him.
· Have him right the wrong. For instance: If your son bullies someone, have him invite the child to play in the fort or make him a construction-paper pirate hat.
· Praise his efforts. Be specific: "I like the way you invited someone new to play." (“Parenting”)
Like Prince George's school, Paddington's core values are also: KINDNESS, COURTESY and CONFIDENCE.
Teach your children from a young age, this set of core values, it could possibly help the world become a better place.
Bullying is taken very seriously here at school. We love and care for all of the little ones here at Paddington. Our mission is to maintain a safe and fun environment for all the children and with your help, we can accomplish this. Parents, be an example at home. Be the change you want to see in the world. We need to mold our children into the people we want them to be: with good character traits, compassion, good manners, and kindness.
Everything we say and do has an impact on those around us. People can feel empowered and loved, but also insecure and hurt by the things we say. Even the smallest words and actions can have a big effect, so before you say or do something, think about how it can make others feel.
Two children's conversations overheard by a staff member at Paddington:
1. “Go away! I don’t like you, you’re not my friend and I’m not inviting you to my party”.
2. “Would you like to play with me and help build this house? Here's another drill so you can have one too”. “Thank you for sharing”. “You’re welcome, it’s fun doing this together”.
What a difference between these two conversations! We often think that children won’t remember what was said to them at an early age, sadly that is not the case, a number of children who are hurt when they are young do remember and it can greatly affect their self-esteem and confidence.
As the saying goes: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”
Kindness and courtesy are important and a smile is a gift you can give someone every day and it doesn’t cost anything!
“How to Handle Preschool Bullies”, Parenting - https://www.parenting.com/article/how-to-handle-preschool-bullies
“Bullying in Early Childhood”, NAEYC (The National Association for the Education of Young Children) - https://www.naeyc.org/resources/blog/bullying-early-childhood
“Fat is the new ugly on the playground”, CNN - https://www.cnn.com/2012/03/16/living/body-image-kids/index.html
Statistics: Henry D. Schlinger, Ph.D., director of the applied behavior analysis program at California State University at Los Angeles