No child should have to experience bullying behaviors at school or at home. In order to end these stories, we must both put a stop to bullying behaviors when they occur and stop bullying behaviors before they even start.
As parents, educators, and students, we can develop schools and communities in which everyone feels safe, every kid feels included, and no child ever feels singled out by teasing or bullying behavior. This requires a cultural shift—one in which entire communities must participate.
Playworks was rigorously studied by researchers at Stanford University and Mathematica Policy Research, and schools with our program were proven to have significantly fewer bullying behaviors than schools without. Although Playworks is not an anti-bullying program per se, the culture created at our partner schools stops bullying behaviors before they start.
Here are four proactive approaches to prevent bullying behaviors that we see working on our playgrounds every day…
- Teach empathy. Children who understand their own emotions are better able to control their reactions. Children who understand others’ emotions are better able to comfort their peers or avoid hurting others in the first place.
- Encourage positive attitudes. By modeling and encouraging positivity, you can create a positive culture. Smile. Pass out high fives and fist bumps. Notice what others do well out loud by saying, “Great kick, James,” or “I saw you tried your hardest, Allie.”
- Create an inclusive community. Challenge your community to work together as a team rather than compete to be the best. When creating teams, do so in a fair manner. Never call out or exclude individuals for their race, gender, ethnicity, or ability.
- Develop youth leaders. Children know best when, where, and how bullying behaviors and teasing occur in their community. So, developing youth leaders is our best resource for creating a culture that does not accept bullying behaviors. Additionally, youth who exhibit bullying behaviors respond well to positive attention, and making them leaders with accountability gives them the incentive to help improve their environment.
How do you prevent bullying behaviors?