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Toddler Lessons That Fight Bullying, Bias, and Blame

Updated: Mar 9

To all the childcare professionals, parents, and the myriads of others who provide care for our youngest members of society. Thank you.

The fact that you care matters more than anything else you could do. I've spent my entire professional career either physically caring for and/or researching the behavior of very young children so I know that's true.

I know how hard your job is so I know you need support. The last thing you need is blame or shame for what you choose to do.

Everywhere I go people point out the lack of empathy in the world. It's on the news, it's on the streets, it's in the classrooms, and it's alarming.

Bad behavior seems to be running rampant. Why?

Many people believe this is caused by "nobody teaching kids right from wrong".

That's partially true. Research has shown the effects of neglect on the brain structures of very young children.

When kids don't have good role models, they find other role models and they don't always make the best choices. That's why modeling good, empathetic behavior is so important. That's why you matter so much.

And that's why respect and excellent teacher/child ratios matter so much.

But not all problem kids are neglected. Some are seriously bullied, shamed, and blamed at home and in the care of others.

And they start early on when it comes to blaming, shaming, and bullying others.

But there is hope! We're learning through research that it's possible to build empathy into the foundation of the brain during the early years.

So what we do and say early on has a lifelong effect.

Here's what the National Research Council has to say about it:

"It is no surprise that the early childhood years are portrayed as formative. The supporting structures of virtually every system of the human organism from the tiniest cell to the capacity for intimate relationships are constructed during this age period." -From Neurons To Neighborhoods, The Science of Early Childhood Development-National Research Council of Medicine (2000)

In light of all this, here's our plan for early care and education.

Our plan is also to fully support you in teaching these things wherever you happen to be. Some children need more social coaching than others. We need to care enough to show empathy but also to set developmentally appropriate boundaries. This is no easy job.

To do those things effectively, early childhood educators, parents, grandparents, etc. need support. So stick around we have a lot of it here.

If you want some specific support for behaviors like whining, tattling, hitting, biting, separation, and early reading, click below.

Early Childhood Rocks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building more peace, equity, and empathy in the world through early childhood education

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! (click on the word) She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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