And because it is an age old problem people brush it off, but it does have serious consequences. And those consequences are age old, as well.
Fortunately, awareness of the problem has been increasing and with it ideas for how to prevent bullying and cope with it when it happens. Here are few books and ideas for starting a conversation about bullying with your child.
Stick and Stone are alone until Stick stands up for Stone against a bully. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheldis a sweet story about friendship and standing up for others that is appropriate for even toddlers. Talk about ways your child can help others and stand up for them when someone else is hurting them.
One by Kathryn Otoshi is one of our favorites. I would recommend that every child between the ages of 2 and 10 (at least) be read this periodically. All about the power that one person has in making things better (or worse) for others, this book inspires children to stand up for others. Another perfect book for talking about ways you can stand up to bullies.
When my son was in kindergarten he asked for Don't Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin, Allen Shamblin, and Glin Dibley for Christmas and once he received it, listened to the song over and over again. I loved the message so I didn't complain and it opened the door to several conversations about respecting others which is very salient for the times we live in. This book includes social issues, although in a gentle and subtle manner, such as disabilities and homelessness, but it still very appropriate for children 3 years and older.
A boy decides whether or not he should step on an ant in Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose, Hannah Hoose, and Debbie Tilley. Told from both the boy's and the ant's perspectives, this book explores what is means to be powerful and how you make use of that power. The ending leaves the ant's fate up to the reader which will start many great discussions with your child. Some questions to get started with are: Is it OK to hurt someone if they are smaller than you? How would you want to be treated if you were smaller? Aren't we all smaller (or different, or not at good at something) than someone else?
A little girl is tormented by a friend in My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig and Abigail Marble. It begins to impact her so much that she is getting stomach aches and not wanting to go to school. She finally tells her mother who listens to her and helps her come up with ideas for addressing the situation. A wonderful reminder of the importance of listening to your child, as well as a nice reminder for children that is safe to tell someone what is going on in their lives. This book is most appropriate for older preschoolers and early elementary children.
Bully by Patricia Polacco examines issues around the use (or misuse) of social media, as well as what can happen when a child really wants to fit in. Lyla starts a new school and makes a friend right away, but as she becomes accepted by the popular crowd she gets drawn into some bullying behavior and away from that friend. Realizing it is wrong she leaves that group, but soon finds herself on the receiving end of the cyber-bullying. This one is most appropriate for elementary age children.
As always, I hope you enjoy these recommendations. Feel free to share with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen on Facebook, your website, or in your newsletter.
Please add your favorite book or activity about bullying in the comments!
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