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Dealing with Teasing and Bullying

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

“Teasing is often part of growing up — almost every child experiences it. But it isn't always as innocuous as it seems. Teasing becomes bullying when it's repetitive or when there's a conscious intent to hurt another child. It can be verbal bullying (making threats, name-calling), psychological bullying (excluding children, spreading rumors), or physical bullying (hitting, pushing, taking a child's possessions).” This, according to an article on the Scholastic website, “When Teasing Becomes Bullying.”

Meg Thomas, in an Out of the Box Training Kit, “Teasing, Bullying and Being Left Out,” writes: "Teasing and bullying can have serious consequences for children and they need our help to learn how to handle them effectively. Children who are teased, bullied, or chronically excluded are more likely to skip school, have lower grades, drop out of school or even contemplate suicide."

Thomas urges educators to ensure that bullying does not become inevitable in early childhood classrooms:

"Children need confidence in order to stand up for themselves and others…In building children’s confidence we need to closely examine our own behavior…For example, what happens when a child comes to a teacher looking for help to resolve a situation and is simply told 'Don't tattle'? Occasionally a child is just looking for the excitement of seeing another child get in trouble, but more often they are looking for our help to try and sort out what is going on. Our patient, informative responses can reassure them that they have our help in figuring these things out and standing up for themselves and their friends."

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