Young children don't choose to become a bully or a victim. In the primary grades young children may look like they have difficulty playing with friends or forming relationships. The child's brain may begin to associate the social pain of rejection with physical pain, and as a result they begin to withdraw from relationships. If not addressed, this can lead to social exclusion in the intermediate grades.
To prevent this negative outcome, there are two major skill sets our children need support in developing and understanding:
1. slow stages of relationship building
2. quick, effective strategies for responding to bullying behaviors
It's important to teach our children to firmly and promptly tell someone to stop using bullying behaviors, whether the victim or a witness. If the bullying behavior continues, children need to understand they should quickly walk away and ask an adult for assistance.
It's also important to teach our children to respectfully and promptly stop a behavior that someone else has found bothersome or hurtful.
We will be talking about these strategies with children in the coming week, but learning and using them is really a lifelong effort that requires the ongoing support of parents, teachers and community.
Earlier this week, our fifth grade students attended Camp Duncan, where they participated in many valuable team-building activities that emphasized trust, communication and problem-solving--the cornerstones of positive relationships. We thank the PTA and our teachers for opportunities like this that support our children's social development!