Dealing with bullies is tough and it seems to be getting tougher. Lack of empathy is an issue and we all seem to know that.
But how do we deal with it?
There isn't a simple answer but there are many good experiences we can promote during early childhood that increase resilience to many negative things. Scholars such as those working at The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University know what types of experiences promote the best outcomes. Watch this short video to see for yourself.
In some cases the victims of bullies rise up only to become bullies themselves.
We learn what we live.
We can stop the cycle of bullying by teaching non-violent communication and setting the right boundaries. Especially when we start early.
In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. In light of these findings, focusing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-
According to Robin Karr-Morse et. al. in Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence, the best time to teach non-violent communication skills is between 10-18 months because that's when we begin to develop connections from the amygdala to the frontal cortex. That's when self-regulation is forming.
One big roadblock to starting early in the US is our "system" or lack therof fof educating and caring for our youngest. Although we technically know what needs to be done to build resilience during the most important years, we just don't do it here, execpt in the most elite of care situations available. Situations that most people could never afford.
In the US, when the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) dropped in on random childcare centers unannounced and counted children, only 20% were found to be in compliance of state regulations for 2-year-olds. That means 80% were caring for more children than allowed by the state limits
That's unacceptable. Overall, only 10-15% of all childcare in the US is considered high-quality.
This is the sad reality.
Now let's look at the possibility of what could happen if we embrace the things that brain science has been telling us since the early 90's.
We need to open our eyes to reality and potential!
I've written over 100 articles about building empathy in the very young that you can find on my blog. Building empathy isn't easy to do but it is possible with the right tools and the right ratios.
I thought you might be interested in hearing some of the best phrases I've come across for dealing with bullies and creating resilience to adversity. I hope they help you as much as they helped me and I also hope you're in a situation where you can truly apply them.!
I see you, I hear you, you matter to me.
Nothing else you do will work if you don't start here.
I don't let anyone hit me! Set a good example by not allowing anyone to hit you and by not hitting anyone, ever. i've written many short articles about hitting and other hurtful behaviors such as biting and bullying. If you're interesting in setting boundaroies in a developmentally appropriate way, feel free to browse my blog.
I need more information or I need more time. This tells people that you don't buckle under pressure. In order to bring this down to the level of the children I work with I often say, I don't like that, Ill have to think of something to change it.
So, you're asking me to___________________________? Correct? Sonetimes just repeating an offensive request is enough to make a bully think.
Are you saying______? Rephrasing can shed light on a lot f things.
No! This word speaks for itself.
I've decide to_____________and I'm not going to change my mind.
Be clear, be assertive and know your own boundaries.
Knowing the right words to use helps but we really need a PLAN for better, non-violent, non-biased communication. It isn't easy in a world that sometimes accepts blame, bias and bullying as being OK in certain situations.
We need to pull together to focus on:
Join this community now if you care aboout early childhood education and want to see it improve. You'll get my free ebook Magic Words as soon as you do.
Or click on the word PLAN for information on my online workshop and get 5.5 hours of continuing education units in Wisconsin or take for your own pleasure and learning experience.
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.