Bullying in Kindergarten

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Bullying behavior often starts in kindergarten. Bullies have fun pestering a specific peer using a broad range of negative behaviors. These may range from hiding shoes, destroying a picture, saying nasty things, refusing to sit beside the targeted child, to beating, throwing stones and the like. Bullies do not often use physical means to aggress their victim and seem to be rather manipulative knowing very well whom they can aggress against without retaliation, where they can do it unobserved, and even how to get peers to assist them. They feel powerful, like Eric, 6 years old, who used to say: “I’m the boss here”.

Studies indicate that about 6% of kindergarten children can be categorized as passive victims, children who are victimized by the bully and some other peers (the bully’s assistants) on a regular basis and who do not retaliate when attacked. Teachers often tell us that these young victims are very kind children. In our research, we find that these kindergarteners usually share belongings, help and console their peers, even if although they do it less often than children who are never involved in bullying or victimized. These passive victims also seem to have difficulties asserting themselves, saying “No, I don’t want this!” Furthermore, they play alone more often than other children and seem to have difficulties making friends, approaching other children, asking peers to play, etc. Not surprisingly, we also find that these children have fewer friends and are less liked by peers than bullies or children who are not involved in bullying at all. It would be of great help for these children to gain more self-confidence in social relationships. For example, they may benefit from in training in assertiveness with non-aggressive peers. Also, every experience of that enhance their self-competence would be helpful to these children in order to minimize their vulnerability in the peer group.

Ways to Recognize and help your Child with Bullying


  • Bullying is unfair and adults must take it seriously as early as in kindergarten.
  • Be aware of social, indirect, hidden and ambiguous forms of bullying; they already occur in kindergarten.
  • Pay attention to symptoms and possible indicators of victimization, like unwillingness to go to kindergarten, stress or sadness
  • Listen to children when they report on “trivial” daily hassles that seem to upset them. It may be one of many hassles.
  • Talk with the children about “good and bad things” happening in the kindergarten group.
  • Talk about the unfairness of bullying and provide children with alternative behaviors
  • Teach children to say no!
  • Give children an opportunity to feel competent
  • Give children who feel insecure in situations with peers some social training
  • Use teaching forms and games that enhance integration of all children
  • Encourage children who are not involved in bullying to intervene when they witness such situations. They may be trained to tell the bully to stop, to ask the teacher to help or to include the victim in play situations.

Parents should never dismiss bulling behavior. If your child is being bullied talk to your child’s teacher. School districts often have an anti bullying policy. Find out what it is and insist that the school follow it.

Taken from Education.com Bullying Special Addition contributor Francoise Alsaker

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