How to help toddlers who bully

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How to help toddlers who bully

What's hard to believe that toddlers can get into bullying behavior? Again, it's not the kind of bullying behavior we see in elementary schools because they don't understand power and control but kids do test out aggressive behavior to get their way. What you have to do as a parent is monitor your little children, your toddlers, so they understand when it's okay to use behavior that is acceptable to your family and when it's not okay, you jump in. They need you to model that before they learn it. So if your kids are using behavior that crosses the line that becomes aggressive and looks like bullying, as a parent, you jump in immediately, not with anger but you separate your children, you sit them down, and you say, "Let's try it this way." You try to give them a script. "So if you want to share, you can use this toy for 10 minutes and then you can take a turn." You want to basically explain to them how to negotiate. Because if you're role modeling negotiation, that's a much better skill they can use through life than bullying which can get them into trouble. And you can also call the school if that's happening in the school to make sure that teachers are rewarding the right kind of positive behavior that you're doing in school. Preschool teachers are more than happy to follow consistently with the kind of positive behavior that little kids need to learn. It's the time to do it because they learn their empathy really early and they want to learn how to share and be inclusive because that's the time we can change them. It's much harder in high school.

View Joel Haber, PhD's video on How to help toddlers who bully...


Expert Bio

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Joel Haber, PhD

Psychologist, Bullying & Parenting Expert, Author

Dr. Joel Haber is a Clinical Psychologist and internationally recognized bully prevention and parenting expert. He was selected as a webinar leader and a speaker for the Obama Administration Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention initiative.  He was also an invited participant to the Second Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in 2011. His recent book, Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting and Bullying for Good set the bullying standard for schools, camps, sports, organizations and families dealing with bully prevention and intervention. He recently published The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive Parenting.  He is a consultant and expert to the American Camp Association, and to LG Electronics as a member of (, providing cyberbullying and mobile harassment expertise to parents and families. He is an advisor to Cartoon Network’s anti-bully campaign: Stop Bullying: Speak Up.  He is an expert for No Snap Judgments: The Addams Family Broadway Show- National Campaign to promote acceptance and tolerance amongst our youth. He is also co-founder of Tool Kits for Kids (, recipient of five national parenting awards for helping parents and kids develop the tools and emotional life skills to overcome worry, build confidence and develop resilience. He has written and published extensively, speaking each year to thousands of parents and educators to help make children’s lives, safer and better. 

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