Eight Tips for Raising "Terrific Twos" Bully-Proof!

If you’re seeing instances of your child getting pushed around by other children, does this mean that he may easily fall victim to bullies in the play yard? If it is your child doing the pushing and hitting, could she become the bully in later years? Experts agree that the traits children demonstrate during the “terrific two” period (18 months to 6 years) reveal some of the characteristics the child could possess as they grow up. Adults have the power to change some of the social interaction traits they see in their children with simple techniques for these formative years.

Visual schedules for young children.  See them at: SchKIDules

1. Provide good examples
Be sure that conflict resolution in relationships the child is exposed to, are healthy and positive examples she can learn from. The adults in a child's life are living, breathing models. It’s OK for adults to have respectful disagreements with other adults in front of the children, just be sure they see the follow up discussion or the appropriate “make up” when a resolution has occurred.

2. Limit Electronics Bullying and Violence
Preschoolers are little sponges and "soak up" whatever they are exposed to. Violence in cartoons, commercials, and video games are played out in their play sessions with others. Provide position electronics learning experiences instead. If an inappropriate scene comes on the television, explain to your child what they just saw in a way he can understand and if necessary, turn it off.

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to HighSchool--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle (Updated Edition)

3. Set up rules in advance
Talk to your child when he is open to learning something new about the rules of behavior, such as "hitting is not OK," or "I cannot let anyone hit another in this house (or classroom)." Say it with a calm and firm tone of voice, not in a scolding manner. When you see examples of appropriate behavior from your child, let her know by making a big deal out of it. It is OK to be animated with a preschooler and to give her a little bit of praise in regard to her behavior.

4. Avoid giving the bully attention
When one child gets aggressive with another playmate, avoid charging in to scold the aggressive child. Instead, put all of your immediate attention on the victim and if possible, include the aggressive child in the nurturing of the hurt or crying child. Once the emotion clears up and everyone is calm, take the aggressive child aside and at his eye level, remind him of the established rules about keeping hands to yourself. Make that encounter brief and then let it go. Avoid creating a lot of drama or guilt over it. If the aggressive child is punished, it may motivate him to do it again to get even or to get more inappropriate attention.

Help for parents on taming tantrums at http://www.StopTheTantrums.com

5. Keep playtime with others brief
During the phase of the “terrific two,” the child is learning about the social experience. They don’t automatically see their playmate as you do, so their feelings toward the other child can change suddenly. Instances of hitting or being aggressive may be indications that the children need to be separated or they have had enough of each other for the day. Don’t get angry or over react, just end the play time and reschedule it for another day.

6. Build their emotional intelligence
Children who purposely hurt other children have under developed emotional intelligence (the ability to know how someone might feel). Preschoolers do not yet have a developed emotional intelligence, so don't hesitate to begin helping them develop theirs. When you see them experiencing emotion (positive and negative), get to their eye level, look curious at their expression, and tell them what you see, such as "You look sad." Or if they bring a problem to you like "The kids won't let me play," say to the child, "It looks like you're sad that they won't let you play with them. What do you think you could do so that they will let you play with them?"

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7. Help your child feel powerful
It's too easy to fall into a mode of being efficient and trying to get everything done exactly how you want it done. But in the process, we overpower our children to get where we need to be. Children who feel over powered also feel like they have no say in matters and are very likely to act out the need to be powerful over other children. Look for ways for your child to have and feel some sense of power in daily life and they are less likely to overpower someone else.

8. Help your child become capable
According to a recent article on the American Psychological Association Web site, a child who lacks problem-solving skills are more likely to become a bully, a victim, or both. Avoid doing too much for your child and let them perform age-appropriate tasks as often as possible. If they whine because they want you to do it for them, don’t rescue. Their whining is a way of venting frustration and manipulating you. Let the whining and struggling occur and be ready to provide encouragement with every small success.

Online parenting coaching:  http://www.OnlineParentingCoaching.com

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