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These 4 Essential Skills Give Toddlers Power Over Bullies For Life

Problem Solving instead of blame

Problem-solving with infants and toddlers isn't easy but it's always worth the effort. Letting them struggle a bit in the right situations can save you a lot of frustration and time later on.

Try saying "It looks like you're having a problem. What could we do to solve it?"

 Instead of "Who had it first?" or, "Don't be so greedy!"

Here's a good rule of thumb:

Try watching them more carefully and giving them the least possible amount of help they need to reach their goal.

Even if its just noticing an infant reaching for a toy and talking them through it instead of automatically handing it to them. Effort is good. Sometimes pausing before helping a young child can be an intentional teaching method.

This is called scaffolding. (Vgotski). Scaffolding is one of a child care teacher's secret weapons.

The opposite of problem-solving is blame. Blame is a way of life for some people but it doesn't have to be. Blame is used often by bullies. It's also used in many households as a form of discipline. It doesn't create the effect the blamer wants, though. It only teaches the one who's blamed to look for blame instead of a solution when a problem occurs. And problems will occur.

Learning about others instead of lumping them into categories based on bias

Inclusion is an attitude and a skill that can be built. We need to talk with children about this in a casual and informative way. When they ask out loud why someone is Black, in a wheelchair, or has a big bottom, try telling them this.

"Good people come in all shapes sizes and colors. They come with different abilities too. It's part of what makes life interesting."

It's really our attitude that shows them whether to recoil in fear or accept other's differences with an attitude of gratitude.

The opposite of learning about others and seeing each other with loving eyes is bias.

Bias is when we lump others into categories before we even know the facts. We assume something when we have no cause to make an assumption. Silly, isn't it?

Attention of the positive kind instead of negative

I see you, I hear you, you matter. Spending time listening to children instead of always talking at them is important.

Also, when kids get more attention for doing negative things it doesn't matter that the attention they get is negative. They still want it and will seek it out. They have an inborn desire to interact. Interact with them in a positive way to get the very best results.

Remember to teach them what to do as well as what not to do.

Another factor for young children in the realm of attention is the number of books they're read on a daily basis. Reading to young children is a great opportunity to talk about the feelings and emotions of the characters in the stories and to compare them to our own feelings and emotions.

It's a good idea to talk to children about their own feelings first and then yours before moving on to the feelings of others.

In this way, they learn the words they need to know later on when dealing with friends and with bullies.

When talking about feelings with young children remember:

All feelings are OK, all actions (and words) are not.

This is where developmentally appropriate boundaries come into play.

Non-violent communication instead of bullying

All human beings can learn to use non-violent communication. It beats holding everything inside or lashing out physically.

One of the first ideas in NVC is the use of "I" messages (Rosenberg). Children can learn to ask for things in a non-threatening manner. The best time to start teaching non-violent communication is before young children even learn to talk.

Many quality child care providers and parents know about these 4 skills but we need to support each other in teaching them. It isn't easy and caregivers for the very young don't normally get a lot of respect in our current society even though we often get lip service.

Empathy is the trendy word these days but what does it mean in real life? How can we be empathetic and still set boundaries?

Blame, bias, and bullying are problems that can be addressed early on by teaching about other's feelings, boundaries and choices.

The problem is knowing exactly what to do and say in sticky situations. If that's an issue for you, get our free ebook, Magic Words here and get all the best phrases that work to teach, not punish young children.

Luckily, at early childhood rocks non-profit organization, we have a PLAN. It's outlined briefly in the article above. Learn more about it here.

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 has presented at statewide and nationwide conferences. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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