A Bully

How is it even possible, when you are three, to be a "bully"? What a label to have! I want to avoid that label with this student, if possible. It may help to categorize and come up with strategies, but I don't want my mind, or anyone else's, to think of the work "bully" before "child".

I knew Y last year, when he was a nursery student. He will be 4 towards the end of October. He is always moving, and in the classroom (so far) has preferred blocks, legos, the sensory table, and dramatic play. On the playground, he likes playing with the plastic animals, running, jumping, growling.

He has a difficult time waiting his turn. When he wants something another child has, it seems that he can hardly contain his need to touch the item, or take it. Today he wanted a small wheelbarrow on the playground to put his plastic dinosaurs in; they were both being used. He looked longingly at one that his friend, O, was using. He asked for it, O said no. Y threw his dinosaurs down, growled, and ran acrss the playground. A minute later, he was over by O, pushing his hands off the wheelbarrow handles so he could have it. Another minute later, he chased O with his dinosaurs, growling and screaming, holding the dinosaurs in front of him as he ran -- and O dropped the wheelbarrow, crying, with a look of fear on his face. Y put his dinosaurs in the abandoned wheelbarrow and began to casually walk off with it - I intervened here.

He can be physical, too -- sometimes he does it because he is angry, but other times he seems to simply be having trouble staying in his own space. He does not hit as much as he pushes and pokes.

Knowing Y's behavior from last year, I considered him an active boy. I'm thinking more now about where to stretch and where to stop. He has shown bullying behavior -- he was looking at a book that another child took out of the library, and as that child came to the book area, Y sang, "Nah nah nah nah nah, I read the book!" Teasing at this age is new to me. Is he imitating something he has seen his brother do? Is he teased and bullied at home, and taking control by teasing at school?

I don't want to jump to conclusions - I want to learn more about how I can help teach him positive social behaviors, and support his successes as he learns about being a part of our community.

A first step I'm trying is role playing, and acting out with puppets. I think it is important to frame everything as positively as possible, too. Perhaps we can also create a book with photographs of children being kind and respectful. I think using this as a space where I can work through my thoughts and observations will prove helpful, too.