Bullying has been called a national epidemic. One in three middle and high school students in America reports being bullied. But experts say the problems start way before kids reach their teen years.
"Children who are bullies at older ages are given a lot of power in their homes and a lot of control."
Kristine Gose works with children and families battling behavioral issues. She says preschool age kids can't be labeled bullies, but they can definitely have issues to work through.
"At that age group we refer to as challenging behavior."
"That's the definition of bullying, intentional harm, that's what we cant identify in that early childhood setting."
Gose says some kids exhibit signs of trouble as early as age two. Here are some things parents can watch for...Indicators your kid might be overly aggressive...
- Consistent refusal to follow directions
- Cruelty to other children or animals
- Indifference to having hurt someone
"For example when we see a preschool age child who laughs at their friend who falls and hurts themselves that would be a red flag."
There are also red flags that indicate your child may be a victim. They include:
- Have low self esteem
- Have an unhealthy attachment to their parents
- Or show a narrower and more extreme range of emotions.
Gose says its important for kids to learn to assign the appropriate emotion to the appropriate circumstance.
"So that they're neither too escalated over an event or not escalated enough over an event."
No matter the behavior problem...Early intervention is key.
"The older a child gets the more embedded those patterns become the more difficult they'll be to turn around."
If you'd like more information on preschool bullying and what to look for, we have a link on our website to an online guide. Just go to KSEE24.com and click on Newslinks.