Subscribe Now! Don't Miss Anything We Post. Join Our Email List Today.

Bullying And Early Childhood

Bullying and Early Childhood- the two do not seem to go together, but…

Are there bullies in the block area?

Apparently so according to Child Trends…

Bullying And Early Childhood

According to a report published earlier this year, August 2015, there are factors in early childhood that appear related to bullying later.

Bullying can pose a serious threat to children’s immediate and long-term health and well-being, and can have profound impacts on all children involved in bullying behaviors, whether as the one bullying others, the one being bullied, or the one witnessing bullying. At least some of the roots of bullying behaviors, and conversely the roots of positive pro-social skills, can likely be found in adverse and positive experiences during early childhood, yet the research literature on these connections is limited. The early childhood field lacks a coherent, theoretical model that identifies the factors contributing to “mean” or aggressive behavior in young children, and establishes the developmental link between this early behavior and later bullying behavior.

There seems to be evidence to support these theories on Bullying And Early Childhood according to Child Trends:

Parenting behavior and characteristics, particularly parenting style, parental involvement, and engagement are related to the development of “mean” or aggressive behaviors. However, the majority of research has focused on the role of mothers rather than fathers.

Early childhood maltreatment, such as physical abuse, is a significant predictor for involvement in bullying, both as the target and as the aggressor. Early and persistent maltreatment is also shown to physically alter the structure of a child’s brain, which can lead to developmental deficits, including in social and emotional domains.

The quantity and content of television media exposure have been linked to both the development of bullying behaviors as well as pro-social skills. Increased exposure to media, including media that is not inherently violent, has been linked to increases in bullying behavior. Conversely, exposure to television shows, such as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or Sesame Street, which are specifically designed to focus on pro-social skills, has been shown to increase these behaviors in young children.

Evidence is limited and/or mixed for the connection between bullying behaviors and caregiver-child attachment, the influence of early care and education settings, the effects of early exposure to bias and prejudice, and other environmental factors such as peers or socioeconomic status. Further research would enable us to better understand how these factors contribute to development of bullying behaviors from early childhood.

At the same time, the early years present a unique opportunity to take advantage of a variety of caregiver-child relationships and social settings (at home, in preschools, child care settings, playgrounds, etc.), in which modeling, teaching, and reinforcing pro-social behaviors, empathy, and kindness can take place. This white paper stresses the need to focus on promoting positive social and emotional skills and interactions to help prevent later bullying behaviors. Several promising and evidence-based programs and resources are available that can help facilitate these skills in early childhood. These include:

  • Media-based resources, such as those offered through Sesame Street Workshop and the Fred Rogers Center.

In addition to the practitioner and parent resources outlined above, it is important to highlight evidence-based interventions for addressing and preventing risk factors for bullying in young children.

You can download and read the full PDF Report Here:Bullies in the Block Area: The Early Childhood Origins of “Mean” Behavior 

Also, check out: Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind via The Washington Post

Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, and the Making Caring Common Project have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. (The Washington Post)


Freelance Blogger at
Lori Hil is a freelance blogger and content curator with an AAS in Early Childhood Education. She now gets to combine her love of writing and teaching through the written word. You can find her all around the web, but especially enjoying the freelance life at
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Add a Comment