Early Childhood Development & Bullying

Early Childhood Matters

Wondering about how to care for your new baby?

Unless the baby’s health care provider tells you that the baby has a special health problem that makes sleeping on her back unsafe, ALWAYS put the infant on her back to sleep at bedtime and naptime.

Remove stuffed animals, pillows or other soft, fluffy and loose bedding from the baby’s sleep area. This includes crib bumpers – they are still popular but they too can be a suffocation hazard.

Lay babies on their stomachs to play. Babies need time when they are awake to be on their tummies to exercise chest and arm muscles and develop head and neck control. This will also reduce flat or bald spots on baby’s head from the sleep position.

Want learn more? Here are some great online resources: Kidshealth.org  Dr Sears   Developing Bonding Video

Did you know?

A preschooler’s brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s brain. This allows them to process and retain new information quickly.

If a child is misbehaving or acting unusually, make sure that she is not hungry, bored, tired, feeling lonely, or getting sick. These are commons things that affect children’s behavior.

Children’s behavior often becomes disorganized as they are experiencing intense developmental changes. Understanding the underlying causes of these behaviors will help you respond more sensitively.

As a parent or caregiver, you are a very important role model for a developing young child. Do your best to exhibit behavior that you would like to see children imitate. But remember that it takes time for children to understand and recognize their feelings, and learn how to control their emotional states and behavior. Be patient as you guide them in acting appropriately.

Tips on Using Positive Guidance:

Guide children’s behavior with kindness and firmness.

Give children choices.

Give clear, simple directions.

Provide a safe and interesting play environment.

Set clear limits. Limits are not rules – they are flexible boundaries.

Help children successfully transition to new activities.

Be consistent.

Follow through.

Use praise and positive statements often.

Take action before a situation gets out of control.

Social Skill Development

Social skills are important for every individual to achieve success.  We use social skills at home, at work, in the community, and in our relationships.  All too often children with special needs have difficulty with social skills.  Luckily, any child or adult can learn appropriate social skills when given the chance.

Where to begin?
Complete a checklist of social skills appropriate to your child’s age and abilities. You can obtain a social skill checklist through your doctor, school, or by doing a simple google search. Speech therapists are also able to provide resources and exercises that may be useful to determining appropriate skills and developing them.  Once you have determined the area of need for your child, prioritize which social skills are most important for your child to learn. Choose one skill to work on at a time.

Process of Social Skill Learning
Young children

  1. Parallel Play – Have the child play next to you or a peer.Always start with a highly rewarding activity for the child, and then move to less rewarding activities.
  2. Sharing Materials – Once a child has master parallel play, work on sharing materials. Start by you sharing first.Encourage the child to share; gradual increase the time they share an item.
  3. Turn Taking – Depending on skill level, turns may be quick.Slowly work up to the child allowing a partner to have longer turns and taking more than one turn.

Older children

  1. Model the desired skill you want your child to learn.
  2. Show videos of the desired skill (www.youtube.com is great).
  3. Practice using role plays.
  4. Once they are comfortable using the skill, go into the community and put the skill into practice.

Where to Learn Social Skills
Opportunities to learn social skills surround us. Some individuals may benefit from participating in a social skills group hosted by a local counseling center, school, or therapy facility, or civic organization. Additionally, a family may use informal opportunities to help develop social skills. Your family can work on social skills at:

  • Parks,
  • Festivals,
  • Stores,
  • Sporting events,
  • Doctor offices.

Building your child’s social skills will give them confidence, improve communication, and develop curiosity.  Consult with your child’s teacher, therapists, or doctors for help and resources specific to your child’s needs.


Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy. Find out what you can do.

Bullying Resources for Educators and Parents (teach.com)

Create a Safe and Supportive Environment

In general, schools can:

  • Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults, and the school. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center Exit Disclaimer can help.
  • Make sure students interact safely. Monitor bullying “hot spots” in and around the building. Students may be at higher risk of bullying in settings where there is little or no adult monitoring or supervision, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and the cafeteria.
  • Enlist the help of all school staff. All staff can keep an eye out for bullying. They also help set the tone at school. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, office staff, librarians, school nurses, and others see and influence students every day. Messages reach kids best when they come from many different adults who talk about and show respect and inclusion. Train school staff to prevent bullying.
  • Set a tone of respect in the classroom. This means managing student behavior in the classroom well. Well-managed classrooms are the least likely to have bullying.

Activities to Teach Students About Bullying

Schools don’t always need formal programs to help students learn about bullying prevention. Schools can incorporate the topic of bullying prevention in lessons and activities. Examples of activities to teach about bullying include:

  • Internet or library research, such as looking up types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how kids should respond
  • Presentations, such as a speech or role-play on stopping bullying
  • Discussions about topics like reporting bullying
  • Creative writing, such as a poem speaking out against bullying or a story or skit teaching bystanders how to help
  • Artistic works, such as a collage about respect or the effects of bullying
  • Classroom meetings to talk about peer relations

The Benefits of Working Together

Bullying doesn’t happen only at school. Community members can use their unique strengths and skills to prevent bullying wherever it occurs. For example, youth sports groups may train coaches to prevent bullying. Local businesses may make t-shirts with bullying prevention slogans for an event. After-care staff may read books about bullying to kids and discuss them. Hearing anti-bullying messages from the different adults in their lives can reinforce the message for kids that bullying is unacceptable.