True bullying is rare in the younger age ranges.
Unfortunately though, some adults use the label “bullying” quite inappropriately to describe a vast range of perfectly normal child behaviours.
How things can be misinterpreted
As we all know, children don’t master full control of their bodies at the same rate. They also learn how to engage socially with others at a different pace too.
That means some younger children haven’t yet fully learned how both their physical actions and emotional communication can affect the wider environment around them – including other children. Inevitably, they’ll sometimes make mistakes as part of that learning process.
What does this mean in the classroom?
A young child pulling a toy away from another abruptly isn’t necessarily bullying. It’s most likely to be attributable to them simply having not yet learned the social skills to ask first or to pick something up without snatching.
Being a little too rough in good-natured play also isn’t necessarily cause for concern.
Children that have started their lives in a home environment alongside similarly-aged siblings may have become used to a little pushing and shoving in order to establish their place. Parents can’t watch them for every second of every day!
It can therefore be a learning exercise for them to realise that the rough-and-tumble they may be used to with their brothers or sisters isn’t what is required in a classroom.
None of these things or others like them are evidence of aggression and they’re rarely anything for parents to worry about. They do though, need to be dealt with rather than ignored.
In partnership with parents, we aim to help our youngest charges develop an awareness of social interaction and cooperation with others. That applies at all levels – emotional, communicative and of course, physical.
It is necessary, through positive and affectionate re-enforcement techniques, to help children to distinguish between behaviours that are respectful to others and those which are not.
In a healthy day-care or school environment, where children have plenty of space and care provider attention, these values are usually very quickly assimilated. The evidence suggests that if younger children are nurtured and developed in this fashion, they will be far less likely to develop genuine bullying of aggressive tendencies later on in their school lives.