Family Magazine

Bullying in Young Children

By Slattenk
A number of preschool teachers have expressed concern to me over the bullying behavior they see in their classes.  While it can be debated as to where these young children are learning to bully and tease other children, it's clear that it is happening.
How can teachers or parents approach the topic of bullying in a way that young children will understand?  One place to start is by reading Kevin Henkes' book Chrysanthemum together.  This book is filled with Henkes' charming mouse characters including Chrysanthemum who is carefully named by her parents after a most beautiful, precious flower. 
All is well in Chrysanthemum's life right up until she starts kindergarten.  When the children hear her name, they find many ways to make fun of it.  Her teacher isn't very helpful in dealing with the teasing and replies to the girls taunting with "Thank you for sharing."
This book lends itself to discussion:
  • How would you feel if you were Chrysanthemum?
  • When the teacher responded to the mean girls with "Thank you for sharing."  how do you think those girls felt?  How did Chrysanthemum feel?
  • What might the teacher have said to stop the teasing? 
  • Have you ever been teased?  What was helpful to you in that situation?
It's a rich story for opening the important topic of bullying and teasing with young children.

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