Bullying - What should I know, and what should I do?

Posted on November 24, 2016 by steven

Bullying, sounds familiar? or your children might have experienced bullying before, not sure about it or don’t know how to deal with it? Let’s talk about it.

What is bullying?

Broadly defined, bullying is the “systematic abuse of power in interpersonal relationships” (Rigby, 2008, p. 22).

Commonly there are three kinds of bullying in New Zealand, physically bullying; verbal bullying and cyber bullying.

There are some good examples of bullying in everyday life –

“My daughter was bit by another girl three times this month, my daughter said she was not sharing and every time she wanted a toy and snatched or bite someone to get it”

“A four-year-old girl in kindy was told by other three friends normally play everyday that you are not our friend anymore, and the other three girls purposely isolated her with some mean words”

“My boy seems dominated by another boy at daycare just few months older than him, bitting, pushing and never sharing”

Those situations might be familiar to you, remember one thing – bullying is not kind of game for children, if bullying situation happens, we have to deal it very seriously. There is an old saying that sticks and stones may break bones, but it seems words can still do some serious damage to young people. We will talk about different kinds of bullying at latter

Bullying is reported to be a common experience for children and young people around the world (Craig et al., 2009; Due et al., 2005), New Zealand’s bullying rates were quite high in OECD countries. (Link of the Journal Article -

First of all, when the bullying could be happening? According to the research has done by Victoria University (Green, Harcourt, Mattioni, Prior 2013), that bullying can start as young as two or thre years of age in early childhood education. In that research, which surveyed school staff and teachers (800 teachers and staff member from primary, intermediate and secondary school across New Zealand), found that 94 percent of staff interviewed had seen bullying in their school, be aware, 94% of staff interviewed in the survey had seen bullying in their school, not necessarily themselves, but this number still very alarming.

We do not want our children to bully other children or being bullied by others, generally it is largely up to us whether pre-bullying behaviours turn into actual bullying and whether bullying escalates or whether it decreases and stops. In another words, parents play very important roles in it. Bullying occurs when one child holds power over another child – it may take the form of grabbing, hitting, saying hurtful things and excluding. Bullying usually takes the form of targeting the same child or children repeatedly with the intention to hurt (and/or scare). Basically, bullying is a repeating process, some children are being bullied may just once or twice then it stopped because either the child bullying other left / being educated or the child being bullied left / learnt to react to it. Thus, if your child is being bullied once, according to the previous research, this bullying situation will most likely repeat.

Children are social beings, when we place children with other children some social juggling and positioning will go on. How children will position themselves, it is largely based on the value adopted from domestic environment or social pairs, such as friends. Also children are quite sensible to the social environment, children are quite smart to recognize the social positioning /status base on their own value adopted as well as the images they perceived about other children in the same environment. Some children are more sensible to recognize the children in the same group with more vulnerable position or status. Thus, how adults react on the bullying behaviours or how adults educate the children in vulnerable position to be confident to deal with bullying situation themselves are getting crucial.

As a parent, in general, does not have early childhood education background or knowledge, at the stage of choosing a childcare centre for your child, and the way of judge a centre is a more suitable childcare centre and the skills of communicating with teachers are very important elements of bullying prevent.

Research indicates that relatively smaller group with 8 to 10 children at a given time with an adult bullying behaviours are less likely to develop. Normally when we chose a childcare centre, we are some times over weighted the brand and size, no doubts they could be great profitable businesses, however according to the Victoria University research elaborated children in the bigger size of childcare are much more likely to develop or experience bullying behaviours. As previously mentioned in the article, bullying is preventable, if a child in a smaller group size childcare (or room) the likelihood of adults noticing behaviours early that are likely to develop into bullying and effectively address the behaviours before harm is done.

Children will try different behaviours and depending on what responses they get from adults and other children they will then use the same behaviour again and guidance or intervention may be needed if experimentation starts to develop into bullying. Almost every single childcare centre has Children Behaviour Policy and Positive Guidance, parents are likely the first party to notice children’s bullying behaviour or being bullied, so parents have a responsibility to give children descent time by getting to know your own children better and talking through rules and boundaries (Be aware – physically accompany is not quite what we call ‘decent’) communication plays very important role in bullying. From the experiences I spent in childcare, I noticed that large numbers of children do not really understand and develop their language skill to express their feelings, teaching children to be kind and respectful, to consider the feelings of others, to be inclusive and to take turns we just could not ignore the importance of communication.

A good example is when children do not know or parents did not teach the proper way of interaction with others, the most effective way of getting things toward to their favour is either scream or bite / snatch, as previously mentioned, bullying is preventable, if the early sign shown but adults do not educate children and guide them through, we probably can imagine what will be happening after.

What we can do as parents –

Based on my years of observation in the childcare industry and experience as a daddy myself, the very top three in my list are communication; communication and communication.


Firstly, children are trying to imitate everything from parents, no doubts parents are role models, good and bad apparently. Way of communication is one of the important aspect children will copy from parents. If parents do not put enough efforts, I will say GOOD efforts on communication on children’s development, children some stage will experience difficulties of interact, such as use rough hands on toys when they little in daycare, or children will feel quite difficult to settle in a new environment, they feel isolated from others because of the proper approach of communication with other children in a shared resources environment. One concept I have mentioned many times to parents – children’s personality and social competence. Rule of thumb – DO NOT mix up these two things, lots of parents claimed their child has sky personality, so hard to interact with other children or use rough hands on toys. Yes and no, no doubts different children have different personalities when they were born, however, personality does not equal to children’s social competence. As mentioned, we as parents have to put good efforts towards on educating children’s communication, confidence and competence.

Ideally we prevent problems rather than solving problems, when you suspect or become aware of bullying make sure all adults (parents, teachers) responsible for your child know. If you do not say anything you are not helping you child and the behaviour of the child who is doing the bullying will not change, remember, bullying is a repeated behaviour.

When a problem happens, you, as a parent, be the one to understand what’s going on, we can ask your own child, but time to time I noticed that children did lie on different things. A good example was a mum talked to me one day about her child was scratched at daycare by another child Charlie, I know Charlie and that child are good friends and play pretty much everyday, however when the time the boy told his mum he was scratched by Charlie, Charlie actually was on holiday in Australia for two weeks, so apparently what the boy exclaimed was a not true. This example tells that as a parent, we have to notice early sign of bullying and be a good ‘detective’ to understand the real story.

Large numbers of parents have their philosophy that children are children, let them deal their own matter. Well, this philosophy is quite popular for Asian parents, we always consider a so-called face value. Words of advise that if your child is being bullied by a child, who could be your friend’s child; your colleague’s child; your neighbour’s child and so no, do not afraid to help your own child through it. Children act differently when there is parent there or by themselves, so if parent on site visualize the situation, please do yourself a favour to help your own child and forget about the face value for now. Child’s confidence and sense of belonging and trust to parents will be impact hugely if we just simply leave to children to deal with bullying themselves. We have countless cases could share with you if you are interested in. Contact Happy Tots office or any coordinator, we will be more than happy to analyse your situation with you.

Last but not least, I would like to mention the level of communication between parents and teachers at childcare centres. Children are sanative as we all know, how confident your child in a childcare largely depends on how confident parents are in the daycare when drop off or pick up. I have mentioned it to numbers of families when I was doing the home visiting – we, as parents, always prioritize our child on the top of the list at all time, the normal process when we drop off child to daycare in the morning will be go in with the child together, and ask child greeting to teacher, and ask child to go and play and say bye, if child was upset or a bit of clingy, we will spend more time talking and comfort children. Sounds like you? As I in my daycare most of the mornings, I observed too much of this kind of situation, was it wrong? No, could it be better? Yes, in the case mentioned, it was a typical process a parent drop off a child, most of the time after entering the daycare parent was talking or interacting with the child we somehow ignored the teacher. Children could easily tell how confident you are among the adults in the daycare, which could have big impact on the child’s feeling and sense of secure. What I suggest was rather focus your own child, you could have a bit of change to talk to teachers by using the precious short pickup or drop off time, and involve your child into the conversation by asking some probing questions and lead children to talk. This will much easier to comfort your child and show your own confidence on the other hand. The more help from you to teachers through meaningful feedback or conversation, more meaningful and appropriate learning experiences will likely to happen on your own child, so make the change and start your meaningful conversation with your daycare teachers from tomorrow.

We got lot to share with you, and Happy Tots is the Early Childhood Education organization with children focus and quality focus as the bottom line to deliver quality curriculum. If you would like to talk more about this matter, please feel free to contact with us on 0800 20 8000 or simply drop us a line more information on the website

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