It is almost hard to believe that for more than a decade our children have enjoyed the “Dora the Explorer” series on Nickelodeon. The show is geared for the viewing pleasure of preschoolers, but one character on the show continues to worry me: Swiper. Swiper is a sneaky, thieving bully that takes things from Dora or her friends. My concern is whether or not our children are learning to enjoy the thrill of being a cruel bully from Swiper and other TV bullies as well.
Children like different characters for a variety of reasons, but Swiper’s character has no point, other than to show a villain. We spend a lot of effort as parents to get children to stand up to bullies, but how much effort is going into preventing our children from being the school bully? When we see incorrect behaviors in children’s programming do we use this as a platform for discussion with our child? And are we nurturing our children to be compassionate to others regardless of race, gender, religion, etc.
As parents we must have a plan of action to teach our children to care about others; thus, helping to prevent bullies from forming. I recently watched a CNN report about Michael Palomino, a father who saw his son with six of his friends on a YouTube video bullying 1 other kid. The father turned his son into the authorities and now his son is in jail. This story is heart-breaking for all involved, but wouldn’t it be great if we recognized the signs and behaviors of bullying within our kids before they act out?
Do you know the signs of bullying? What are the preventative measures that we can try to help deter these behaviors from growing within our children?
Some aggression is not entirely negative. In fact, it is a part of growing up. Some people call it aggression, while others refer to it as assertiveness. Dr. Claudia M. Gold reports in her article Prevent bullying by accepting healthy aggression that “If a child does not have a way to think about his feelings, he is likely to simply act them out. Children who continue, as they grow up, to behave in aggressive ways that are inappropriate for their age are often describes [SIC] as “impulsive.” Impulsive literally means to act without thinking. A child needs to learn from the adults around him how to think about his feelings” (source).
Excessive aggression in children however, has been linked to children who may have suffered from childhood abuse, beatings, witnessing hostility within a marriage, etc. So what can we do? For starters, when our children are young even toddlers we need to recognize these behaviors and teach them healthy ways to channel their aggression/express their feelings. Depending on the child writing, dancing, drawing, singing, fixing things etc are all different ways a child can use their talents to express themselves.
Healthy self-esteem is challenged in most children during their early years, but th