October is Bully Prevention Month. It’s a good time to step back and review what you do to promote safety and security in your classroom. Although bullying is not new, today’s teachers have several tools that help children understand what bullying is, how to recognize it and how they can deal with it.
Help your students understand bullying. Generally, bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior that is repeated over time. There are several types of bullying: verbal, social and physical. When children know what bullying is, they can identify it and report it, or stop it. Young kids especially need to understand that bullying is not okay.
Encourage children to talk to adults about bullying situations. For young children, an effective – yet fun – way to build the vocabulary they need to talk about bullying and the techniques they need to deal with bullying can be incorporated into your classroom through Music and Movement activities. Bully Smart Kids is a great recording that uses easy-to-sing, catchy, danceable songs that help young children develop self-esteem and empathy, build awareness of bullying, learn how to handle negative feelings and cool off. In addition to encouraging children to speak with adults, it stresses concepts like respecting other’s space, managing angry feelings and using conflict resolution to solve problems.
Another strategy is to have kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. When children get involved with activities that they enjoy, not only are they having fun and learning more about themselves, they are meeting others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect them from bullying.
Research also shows that in addition to awareness education and keeping kids active, teaching SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) is very effective in bully prevention. Developing empathy in children has been shown to reduce bullying. When children understand and appreciate that everyone has feelings, they are equipped to treat others with kindness and respect. If you are interested in learning more about integrating SEL strategies into your classroom, read our article “Is Social Emotional Learning Coming to a School Near You?”
Much of the research on bullying shows that the earlier we start to prevent this behavior, the better the results!
For more information on Bully Prevention visit Stopbullying.gov