Written by: Guia P. De Jesus
Teacher III, Cupang Elementary School
Children’s development come in various forms and stages. A child cannot be compared to what another child can and cannot do at a specific period. What is possible to each child changes at different age brackets.
In a kindergarten classroom, where most children are just beginning to develop their neurological capacity for self-control, a teacher cannot expect that the students will just sit still for hours and not become fidgety. Understanding this simple example can help identify that the connections between the emotions and thinking of a person would affect or influence how he acts.
As such, instances of bullying would be better understood and managed if people see them at various age levels. As mentioned, kindergarten kids are just developing self-control, thus bullying can be common and should be managed at this level with consideration to the developmental stage of the child. What happens, however, is that most kindergarten kids are “tagged” as most chaotic and hardest to control. This is not right as this kind of thinking would influence how a teacher manage this class. But if at first, a teacher knows and understands what developmental stage a child is in, it can be a lot helpful for him to properly relate and connect with the students.
Children are capable of naturally developing wisely. Sometimes, there is the tendency that adults mistook normal development process in children as bullying, for example. Say midway through elementary, children begin to develop friendships. There will be instances that a classmate would be hurt when another classmate become closer to another which may create interpersonal conflict. This should not be confused to bullying although this might involve intentional or repeated aggression. This is within context of an imbalance of power. It is crucial to understand that at this stage, normal development includes experimenting with power. This is observed as children begin to cerate gangs or groups and a leader of the pack would stand out.
At this stage, the role of the teacher is to safely guide these young ones toward developing a healthy sense of leadership instead of hurtful use of power over someone else. As the children grow older, in the onset of puberty, their sensitivity to social relationships increases. Sadly, this is when bullying is at its highest, too. Some strategies work well for younger children but not really at this group. They need to still feel their autonomy even as you guide them. It is vital to ensure they feel you see them as an individual who is different from someone else and help them from there.
As teachers, bearing in mind that children undergo normal development process at every age can lead to better relational interactions with them. This can lead to a healthier and more effective learning experiences for them.