Bullying has been in the national spotlight all too frequently, and many educators are searching for ways to eliminate (and, just as importantly, prevent) it in the classroom. Though bullying is not as prevalent in early childhood as it is in later years, statistics show that many children will encounter bullying as they grow up — either as a bully, a victim, or an observer. The preschool years are, however, a good time to teach children about pro-social values, which constitute the building blocks for positive character development. As an early childhood educator or caregiver, you have the opportunity to reinforce positive behavior that can serve as preemptive strikes against bullying. As young children practice loving values, they contribute to a supportive learning environment—a place where all children seek out the goodness in themselves and others, a place where bullying isn’t welcome.
The Kindness Curriculum, Second Edition, out this month, provides more than 90 classroom and at-home activities. Children enjoy the expression the experiences encourage and the playfulness they provide as they learn about love, feelings and empathy, gentleness, self-control, respect, friendship, and conflict resolution. These simple, yet powerful, lessons foster an atmosphere of acceptance, empowerment, and love.
We recently chatted with the book’s author, Judith Anne Rice. She talked to us about the background of The Kindness Curriculum and shared the most important things an early childhood educator can do to introduce young children to pro-social values:
“I summarize my guidelines with the acronym PRIM. That’s Practice, Rules, Internal Rewards, and Modeling. Children need repetition of concrete experiences that teach values; rules that are appropriate and consistent in order to build trust; internal rewards such as approval, praise, love, touch, and attention; and modeling because children imitate the behavior of the adults in their lives.”
Read the full Q&A, learn more about The Kindness Curriculum: Stop Bullying Before It Starts, and try two activities from the book.
Tell us: Have you witnessed bullying incidents? How do you address bullying? Or, have you witnessed acts of kindness?