Starting Early To Teach Kids Not To Bully Others


By Jay Michaels and Aimee Burnett

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Bullying is an issue that's gained national attention over the past few years. But local children are learning how to work through their conflicts at a very young age.

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." If you've ever been bullied, you know that's not true. October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Marsha Holloway has four kids, and she's had to teach them all about how to deal with bullying. One of her boys was on the receiving end of some bullying, while another was dishing it out, in a different situation.

Holloway says, "He feels like he's being funny and ha ha, it's all joking. But I have to really tell him, those words are hurting that person, probably deep down more than you know, and you need to stop that."

So how do we teach young children how to work through their disagreements? Experts stress adults have to be tuned into what's going on with the children.

Follow these six steps: approach the situation calmly, acknowledge the kids' feelings, and stop the behavior. Then restate the problem, ask the kids for solutions, and make sure that the solution is carried out.

Ellen Neff, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at the College of Southern Idaho, says, "They will recognize they have a problem, and we soon hear, we have a problem. The awkwardness actually is with the adult rather than the children. They'll take to this model very readily, if it's consistently applied, and the adults will follow through."

Neff points out most parents want their children to be independent and responsible. But because some people don't know how to be nice to others, they may not know how teach that to their children.

Holloway says, "It's a tough line. It's not a fine line, it's a wavy line. It just kind of depends on every situation that each kid goes through, on how you deal with it. The bottom line is you just need to be kind to people."

This kind of conflict resolution also works well in marriages and the workplace, but you have to do it consistently.

October 21, 2013.

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