Stop Bullying in the Classroom
Bullying can affect the physical and emotional safety of all the children in your classroom. You have already set clear, specific rules of behavior: Putdowns, name-calling, pushing, or hurting someone will not be tolerated. Now, what can you do? Help children practice respect and act with confidence to stop bullying in its tracks.
(See: Stop Bullying Now! Take a Stand—Lend a Hand Campaign: How Teachers Can Help.)
ToTo help children learn how to role play positive interactions and practice acting confidently.
Set up the computer and speakers or CD player. If you are using the website, project the lyrics if possible; if not, write the lyrics or just the chorus on large sheets of chart paper displayed at the front of the room.
Make a list of bullying role play scenarios. These should address bullying behaviors you’ve seen in your classroom, for example:
- A bigger child frequently taunts a smaller child and takes her toys awaynfrom her.
- A child thinks it’s fun to walk by another child, hit him, and walk away withfriends, laughing.
- Children playing on the playground won’t let another child play with them.
- Children taunt a younger child; then, call her a "cry baby" when she runs away.
- As children walk to circle time, play Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Sing-Along Songs: Power Positive and display the lyrics of the song. Ask the children to take turns moving, walking, strutting with the music. Have the children talk about how the music makes them feel. (Answers will vary, but should include: strong, confident, proud.)
- Now, help children follow the rules of behavior and put that confidence to work for them. Tell children that you will help them practice feeling confident when faced with uncomfortable situations. Throughout this role play, you describe the situation and have the children describe how they would feel and show what they would do.
Have a child stand up and then say: How would you feel and what you would do if someone called you names? Or, how would you feel and what you would do if someone threatened to hurt you?
Have children do the role play, but guide them to react with confidence: walk away from the situation in a power-positive way even though they’re afraid; ignore hurtful words as if they just bounced off their strong, confident bodies even though the words make them sad; go and get help for themselves or someone else, feeling fearful, but walking away calmly.
- Play Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Sing-Along Songs: Power Positive once again. Have the children dance to and pantomime the song. Have the class continue to talk about what they know about being “power positive.”
Teaching Note: Use the song and role play different situations whenever you see bullying in your classroom.
Going Further: Look for books on bullying in your library and share these as the occasion arises. While reading, pause and ask the children: How would you feel? What would you do?
Health Resources and Services Administration
From The Journal of the American Medical Association
- Bullying Behaviors Among U.S. Youth: Prevalence and Association With Psychosocial Adjustment (2001)
Books on Bullies and Bullying (some are appropriate for preschoolers)