Just like older kids, preschoolers can be bullies. Bullying at this age often includes teasing, name calling, threatening and physical aggression. Although there are many reasons that a child may become a bully, a permissive parenting style can play a role. The good news is, parents who tend to be permissive can make some changes to their parenting style that can address bullying behavior and reduce the likelihood that their child will continue to bully others.
1. Permissive Parenting
Although every parent is likely to shrug off a child's behavior at times without addressing it, permissive parents regularly dismiss behavior problems by saying, "Kids will be kids." Permissive parents don't like giving kids consequences. They focus more on wanting to be liked rather than risk upsetting the child. Despite their lack of discipline, permissive parents aren't neglectful. They usually strive to form a close relationship with their children and provide them with warmth and understanding.
2. Impact of Permissive Parenting On Children
Although most kids dream about not having any rules, in reality, a lack of boundaries isn't a good thing. Permissive parenting can lead to impulsive behaviors and can prevent children from taking responsibility for their behaviors. When children aren't used to receiving consequences, it can be difficult for them to accept discipline from teachers or other authority figures. This combination can lead to bullying behaviors, as children don't think before they act and often don't worry about other kids' feelings.
3. Responding to Your Child's Bullying Behavior
It's likely that almost every child is guilty of picking on another child at some point. If your child bullies another child, it's important to address it right away. Help your child learn new skills to improve his social skills. Teach him how to share, ask for help and get his needs met without bullying. If he grabs a toy out of his friend's hand, ask him how he thinks it makes his friend feel. Then teach him to ask for a turn playing with the toy and show him other activities he can do instead while he waits for his turn.
4. Helping Your Child if He's Bullied
Most kids get teased at one time or another. If your child is being bullied, teach him how to stand up for himself. Role play how to say, "Don't call me names," or "Stop trying to take my toy from me. I don't like it when you do that." Tell him to ask for help from a trusted adult if the bullying continues or if he's being physically hurt. When kids can stand up for themselves and feel confident that adults can help them, they are less likely to be targeted by bullies.
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images