Empowering Children

The distinguishing factor that separates typical conflict in the classroom from bullying is the exploitation of an imbalance of power that exists between the children.  A child who exhibits bullying behaviors takes advantage of that power imbalance in order to harm or intimidate another child.  One of the recommended practices in many bullying prevention programs focuses on empowering children.  If each child feels a sense of power and control, it is possible that there will be fewer instances of bullying.  This sense of power benefit children who bully, children who are bullied, and bystanders who we want to encourage to stand up for children who are being bullied whenever it is safe to do so.

As a bullying prevention measure, here are a number of ways to create an environment that empowers children:

  • Offer choices
  • Make connections between actions, choices, and consequences
  • Create leadership roles that rotate each day or week
  • Allow children to determine how they want to explore materials, and for how long
  • Eliminate gender stereotypical messages from the environment
  • Teach about personal space
  • Give children the language to use to address different situations
  • Brainstorm options children can take during conflicts
  • Encourage creativity
  • Introduce plants and pets for children to take care of
  • Teach specific social skills with as much intention as you do for math and literacy
  • Introduce classroom chores
  • Introduce and practice self-calming strategies
  • Allow children to pick topics of conversation during meals and snacks

Engage with children in ways the promote growth mindset.  For more information, Consider taking CCEI course CUR121: Establishing Growth Mindset Practices in Early Learning Environments.