Bullying Prevention, Bullying Prevention for Kids 0-5

Where am I going on this journey?

I have a confession to make, I want to be a social media influencer!  I have to say that I am not the savviest person online, I am in awe of the younger generation and their ease with social media.  I am 57 years old, so I have not grown up with computers like the youngers have.

I started out like most adults on Facebook, it is user-friendly and I liked that I could easily repost items that I felt connected too.  I used my page to support LGBTQ communities and pass on information about bullying prevention.  Of course, I also got political and so did a lot of my friends, this caused me to unfollow lots of my friends because they posted stuff that really triggered me.  I decided to stay away from most politics and only concentrate on issues that resonated with my soul.

Somehow I discovered social media influencers and I could not believe that one could make money by writing information that other people would love to consume.  I figured that I possessed information that others might benefit from.  I have 8 years of working with kids in bullying prevention I could start blogging about that.  So I plopped down my money and got me a site, then the real work began, what the heck to I write about and who will be my audience?

My daughter had my grandson about 2 and a half years ago and I am always giving her advice on how to raise a child that will know how to handle mean behavior in others and himself.  I figured that my audience could be parents raising young kids and how do you lay a foundation of skills that will help them survive school and life and not add to the violence in the world.

Then I went back to work at an elementary school and started to work with kids again in violence prevention.  So then I wanted to aim my blog at people who work with kiddos doing bullying prevention.  I got frustrated with the whole process and quit for a while.  So I am back again, trying to figure out if this is the right forum for me.  Stay tuned to see how this turns out!

Bullying Prevention, Bullying Prevention for Kids 0-5

When your toddler uses bullying behavior

I followed my daughter outside as she went to put my grandson in his car seat to go home.  I love this time when I get to interact with him as he is saying goodbye.  As she was strapping him into the car seat, he was very excited, and he grabbed a toy that was in the car seat tray, and he threw it at me, hitting me in the face with the toy.

I immediately said that it was “not a nice thing to do.”  Now my daughter was grown up with me working as a bullying prevention specialist.  She was in 7th grade when I first began my work as a bullying prevention coach in the local elementary school where we lived.  I was always proud of the fact that as a middle schooler she was always happy to have me at school and was never embarrassed when I would come up to her in the schoolyard.  Even when I had to talk with her or her friends about bullying behavior she was never embarrassed or mad at me, we have always had a great relationship.

One of the reasons why I started this blog was ever since she had my grandson, I have been coaching her on how to deal with bullying behavior either my grandson’s or other kids I saw him interacting with.  I am a preventionist at heart; I enjoy tremendously teaching kids coping skills and educating them on how to stand up to bullying behavior or how to get their needs met without using bullying behavior.

So, without missing a beat, she very firmly told him that was not a nice thing to do and that he had to say he was sorry to grandma.  At the time my grandson was about 16 months old, he was not verbal yet.  But he understood immediately that the throwing the toy was wrong and that somehow, he needed to make restitution for the aggressive, hurting behavior.  A lot of parts do not understand that even at this age children are fully aware of what is being said to them and that it is very important at this age to begin to set boundaries of behavior that is aggressive and mean.  Do I believe that he meant to hurt me, of course not.  He was hyped up because he was getting ready to leave and he impulsively grabbed a toy and threw it.  But the result of the action was that he hurt someone, and he needed to know that this kind of behavior was not going to be tolerated by Mom.  Laying a foundation of teaching your child how not to use bullying behavior is to let them know when they have used behavior that is unacceptable and enforce consequences, consistently.

In this instance, after Mom had told him he needed to say sorry, he picked up a pretty toy and handed it to me in a gentle, and conciliatory manner.  I knew immediately that this was his way of saying that he was sorry for having hurt me.  I took the toy, said “thank-you” and the episode was over and done with.  Lesson learned.  This may have to be done over and over as he begins to understand that aggressive behavior will not be put up with and if he “hurts” someone then he needs to make restitution.

As a preventionist, I believe that it is imperative that parents begin to teach their children at this critical age of 0-5.  This stage of their life will be the building blocks of future behavior and boundaries.

Bullying Prevention, Bullying Prevention for Kids 0-5

Empathy the building block of a healthy human

Empathy:    The ability to walk in another’s shoes, to see their point of view over your own experience, or as part of your experience.

I have been working in bullying prevention going on my seventh year.  I work in the trenches with the kids, looking for bullying behavior and calling attention to it.  I work with the child to find a more positive and healthier way of coping with conflict.

Bullying behavior and I emphasize behavior because we do not want to label people bullies, it implies that they cannot change.  I chose to focus on action, what kind of conduct constitutes bullying?  The obvious choices of pushing, shoving, but also yelling at a person, excluding them from joining a group, any type of behavior that seeks to demean or devalue another human being.  When you focus on behavior, then that becomes the game changer with the kids.  I have conversations with the kids about their behavior, and we discuss alternate choices for their behavior.  Sometimes this is a 30-second conversation, sometimes depending on the age of the child, it can go longer.

Always as part of my conversation with kids about the choices that they make about their behavior towards another person is a conversation about empathy.  The conversation goes something like this, “Why did you hit Tommy in the shoulder?”  “He pushed me because he wanted his toy back.”  “Do you think that it was right that he pushed you?”  “No, it wasn’t right, that’s why I hit him.”  “Do you think that hitting is a good way of solving problems?”  “Well, he pushed me.”  “Do you think that it was right that he pushed you to solve his problem.”  “No, but I was mad.”  “Do you like to be pushed or hit?”  “No, I do not.”  “Then we should not be pushing or hitting another person if we do not like it to happen to us.”  You want to humanize the other person, get the child to think of the other person regarding their own experience; I do not like it when I get hit. Therefore I should not hit another person.

Being mean on purpose, that is what bullying behavior is on the surface.  Helping a child to have empathy for a person who is being mean on purpose should help them to understand that the behavior is not about them.  That’s why bullying behavior can be so devastating to a child; they make the mistake of taking the mean behavior as a reflection of who they are.  “I must be a bad person for my friend to treat me so horribly.”  As a caregiver to children, we should be guiding our child with our words to help them process correctly what is happening to them.  We, adults, have a bigger perspective, we have lived many years and have gone through much and hopefully have gained lots of healthy wisdom from the experiences.   Having empathy for another person’s situation should never overshadow the fact that that person uses mean behavior to cope, and this aspect needs to be part of the conversation with your child.  “Why do you think that Tommy was mean to you?”   “Probably because someone is mean to them at home.”  “You are probably right, but what they did to you is wrong, so you must decide on how you are going to handle it.  Do you want to talk with him about it, do you want to ignore it and play with someone else and stay away from Tommy?  What do you think is the best way to handle this?”  Giving the child choices helps them to pick the course of action that is most comfortable to them.  They must know that while they can forgive the behavior because of someone’s circumstances, but they can also choose to stay away from that person because of the choices they make.

As a caregiver, it is essential to understand that the most effective way of teaching your child anything is to model the behavior, consistently.  If you want a child that is kind, then you need to show the child what kind looks like.  If you want a child that is empathetic, you must model empathy.  If you want a child that will not use mean behavior, then you must not use mean behavior.  “Do as I say, not as I do,” is hypocritical, and children can spot hypocritical behavior in an instance.  This requires a level of honesty with us as adults.  Self-reflection is critical to making sure that we are modeling behavior that we want our children to copy.  Do not beat yourself up if you have behavior that needs to change; the first step is acknowledging it.  Be honest with your child, “Mommy gets angry and yells sometimes, this is not the way you want to handle getting angry.”  Let them see you trying to do better, you are modeling that not everyone is perfect, but we must take responsibility for our behavior and change what is not desirable.  Effective parenting is not easy, but it is a growing experience and your children, and the world will benefit the process.


Bullying Prevention, Bullying Prevention for Kids 0-5, Coping Skills, Resiliency

Resiliency: Helping your child build healthy coping skills


I have worked as a  violence preventionist for about 9 years and I have formulated a lot of opinions on how to educate a child that will rarely use violence as a means of solving conflicts.

When I use the word violence, I mean it as a word in a  broader context than most people realize.  Words can be used as violence; when someone is yelling and using obscenities this can make people afraid, especially children.  When the words and the anger are directed towards a child, the child may shut down as a means of coping with the feeling of being unsafe.

I cringe inside when I hear caregivers tell their children to “shut up,” or add a few swear words. By doing this you have the makings of a violent encounter for the child.  If a child is exposed to this kind of behavior by the caregiver day in and day out, the child will begin to use anger and swear words as a means of controlling a situation or as an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Yelling and swearing is a way that people can cope with the feelings of frustration that is going on inside of them.  This type of behavior is what is called an unhealthy coping skill.

From the time we are born we respond to negative experiences in an unhealthy, or healthy way.  For instance, some people will use alcohol as a way of coping with the difficulties in life.  This is not necessarily a bad thing if alcohol is used in moderation.  I myself have come home after a difficult day at work and have had some drinks to “take the edge off.”  This can be a way of dealing with the feelings of frustration, anger, and hurt that has happened throughout the day.

The drinking becomes unhealthy when it negatively impacts you or those that surround you as you drink.  Children learn the most from what they see rather than what is “told” to them.  If as a caregiver your main coping strategy is to drink until you pass out, then the child will learn that coping strategy also.  It may not be alcohol that they child uses as they get older.  It could be any substance: cigarettes, marijuana, pills.

The same thing goes for physical violence if the child witnesses or is the receiver of the violent behavior, then they learn that kind of behavior is a way to cope with the frustrations of life.  Violence can also be used as a way of controlling a situation.  If I do not like the way you talk to me, I can hit you to stop you from talking to me that way.  Of course, this happens over a long period of time, but this kind of behavior becomes a part of the child’s coping strategy.

How do you help your child learn healthy copings skills?  By making sure that you as the caregiver have a large selection of healthy coping strategies to offset the unhealthy ones.  Everyone has unhealthy coping skills, biting your nails, overspending, yelling, you name it.  The goal is to have more healthy coping skills that you use then unhealthy ones.  It is important that your child see you use your healthy coping skills and that you educate your child in skills that they can use that they are comfortable with.

You can go to my first post in my blog and there should be a list of over 50 different ways that you can use to cope with the ups and downs of life.  The major healthy coping skills:

  1.  Exercise, this one is especially important if you or your child suffer from depression.  When you begin to exercise the body will release all of the “feel good” chemicals, like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphin.  Exercise has a way of distracting our thoughts, instead of thinking about all the bad things that happened in the day, exercise can clear your mind and give you a fresh new outlook on what is happening in the day.
  2. Meditation/Prayer is like exercise, it gives you the chance to clear your mind and think of good things rather than focusing on the negative things that happen to us in life.
  3. Reading for me was a way that coped with my childhood.  I had the ability to transport myself into the story and away from the dysfunctional events that were happening in my home.  I could literally be transported for hours at a time, enjoying the events of the book and forgetting about the things that made me sad inside.
  4. Spending time with healthy friends, people that you can trust to tell your innermost secrets and know that they will be kept in confidence.
  5. Spending time by yourself, and enjoying the solitude.

All of the above items are things that you can easily model for your children and help to give them ways that they can cope with the negative aspects of life.


Bullying Prevention, Bullying Prevention for Kids 0-5, Uncategorized

Welcome to the Journey for The Bullying Prevention Specialist Blog

My journey in becoming a bullying prevention specialist was not something that I expected to happen.  In fact, it took my life in a whole different direction, a direction that I had never envisioned for myself.

I was one of those people that never had a career choice in mind ever since I was little, so when I graduated from high school, and San Jose State University excepted me, I went in undeclared.  I took a variety of courses; psychology was one of the classes that I enjoyed tremendously, understanding by people behave the way that they do intrigue me.  I remember the day that I told my Dad that I wanted to become a Psychologist, he very seriously told me that he thought that would not be a good career choice because he saw that I tended to take on people’s problem as my own.

He was spot on, I was 20 years old, and I did not know how to set healthy boundaries, it was not a skill that I learned in my family, in fact growing up in a dysfunctional home the boundaries changed all the time.  Looking back now I understand what my Dad was trying to do; he was afraid that I would end up in a job that would take a toll on me emotionally.  So, I tucked my love of psychology away and decided to major in Business, after all, “you make a ton of money with a degree in Business,” well it didn’t turn out that way for me.

I ended up dropping out of college when I applied for a management job and was promoted to the position.  Who needs a degree when you have the management job, lololololol, I was so young.  Fast forward about 20 years and my family, and I moved to a beautiful town of Don Pedro, and I had the opportunity to quit my job and take a break from the career grind.

I took my kids to the back to school night at the elementary school that they were attending, and I saw a young woman with the most beautiful smile, she was manning a table and looking for someone to fill a job of Bullying Prevention Coach.  The thing that drew me most to the job was that it paid $15.00 an hour, it was part-time, and it was 10 minutes from my home.

I was hired for the job, and it changed my life and the direction of my career.  When I started to work with the kids and implement the program, it was like the heavens opened and this realization that this is what I was put on earth for.  Everything that I had done in life and been through gave me all the skills needed for the job.

I made the decision a few months ago that I wanted to share the knowledge that I had gained over the years in bullying prevention.  So here I am starting this blog and hopefully empowering parents to raise children that can deal effectively with bullying behavior.  I have decided that I will concentrate on information geared towards parents that have kids 0-5.  Laying the foundation for raising resilient kids is where I want to zero in on.

I hope that you will find the information that I provide informative and empowering.  I find that so many parents are resigned to the fact that there is nothing that they can do about their child getting bullied except homeschooling or camping out at the school so that they can provide protection.  I am here to assure you that as a parent you have all the power; information, education, and persistence is the key.  Oh yeah and courage, parents, and educators will tell you that there is nothing you can do, it is hopeless and just surviving is the way.  I hope that with my blog you will find that this is not the truth, there is plenty that you can do.  I am so glad that you have decided to take this journey with me, it should be an interesting ride.

Aloha, Kim