While most anti-bullying programs focus on adolescent children, the origins of bullying can be recognized at a much younger age – when children first go to school or child care, and must learn to advocate for themselves in a social setting.
Ideally, children learn to identify feelings and express their emotions verbally rather than behaviorally. But this is a skill that needs to be taught. Without this ability, children may instead practice self-advocacy by acting out – grabbing, hitting, hurtful talk, etc. – essentially “sharing” their uncomfortable feelings with others. Such behaviors alienate others and result in disciplinary action – creating a downward spiral in self-esteem. By adolescence, these behaviors become habitual and hard to correct – and are recognized as bullying.
My Mad Feelings was developed by Hanna Perkins for use in preschool classrooms. Now it’s been adapted for parents and children (3-6) to take together.
My Mad Feelings prevents bullying before it begins, but it has power to do much more. When children are able to manage their feelings successfully, they can:
- Become more tolerant of others;
- Develop stronger relationships;
- Enjoy the risks involved in learning new things and having new experiences;
- Be viewed more positively by the adults who wield influence over life in school and other activities.