Five Quick Tips for Explaining Bullying to Younger Children

A lot of awareness has come about surrounding bullying, with children at all ages seeming to become victims of poor treatment. These situations can occur for any number of reasons and different types of bullying can be used. Children need to fully understand bullying; why it happens and what to do about it. It can be difficult to explain it to young children, so for this reason, we came up with five quick tips for explaining bullying to young children.

Define bullying. A child might not understand what it means to bully and it is important to find a definition that they can fully grasp. One definition of bullying is “the act of willfully causing harm to others”. This definition is probably too complicated for a young child to understand so simpler words will need to be used. To put it in simpler terms, you can tell a child that bullying is when someone does hurtful things on purpose to another person. It is critical to use simple words that you know your child will understand.

Discuss types of bullying. As many of us know, there are different types of bullying. The three main types are verbal, social, and physical. To make it more understandable for children, break down each type and provide examples. Once again, you might have to switch out words that your child will understand better. Also, children won’t get the concept by just hearing the definition. We suggest skipping the main definitions and just explain it by examples and situations. Here are the types and examples:

Verbal: “saying or writing mean things”

  • Teasing
  • Name – calling
  • Put downs
  • Mimicking others

Social: “hurting someone’s reputation or relationship”

  • Not including someone on purpose
  • Spreading rumors and gossiping about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in front of other people
  • Encouraging other children not to include someone or be friends with them

Physical: “hurting a person’s body” or their belongings

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Tripping
  • Pushing
  • Breaking someone’s toys or special things

Explain why kids bully. A child who is being bullied may feel alone, confused, and they may feel like it’s their own fault. It is important to let the child know it is not their fault and that they don’t deserve to be treated that way. There are many different reasons a child may bully and explaining a couple to your child might help them realize that it is not the victims fault. For example, children may bully because they feel insecure with themselves or they think picking on someone makes them more popular or in control. Some children might not know that it’s not acceptable to pick on someone different. When explaining to a young child why another child bullies, it is important to emphasize that it is not the victims fault and that there can be many reasons the child is bullying.

Explain what to do when you are bullied. When a child is being bullied, they might not know how to handle it or who to confide in. Just expressing that you are concerned and that you are there for them can release some stress, but it is not enough. As the parent, you can talk to school officials, such as their teachers, and explain to them what is going on. Encourage the child to notify teachers or other adults when the bullying occurs. Let them know that there is nothing wrong with asking for help and that doing so is the best way to eliminate the problem. Also, encourage the child to not retaliate back (for this could only encourage the bully more) and to just walk away from the situation and seek help.

Encourage children to speak up for others. The only way to eliminate bullying is to seek help, not only for yourself, but also for others. As you are explaining and having a conversation about bullying, ask your child if they know someone who is or has been bullied. Encourage them to befriend that child and include them while they are playing. They might just find things in common and make a new friend.

Trying to explain bullying to a young child can be hard. It is difficult to find the right words that will effectively get the point across. Defining bullying in simple words and discussing examples of bullying is key to starting off the conversation. It is very important to talk about why children bully and what a child can do about it. Encourage your child to speak up for others and to include everyone during activities. With these quick tips, we hope it’s easier to explain bullying to your young child.

If you have any questions regarding Cerebral Palsy or would like more information about explaining bullying to young children, don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 692-4453(800) 692-4453 FREE or fill out our contact form on Facebook or our website.