To Prevent Bullying, Focus on Early Childhood 

8/18/2015

How do we prevent bullying? Despite decades of study and numerous programs claiming to be the solution to bullying, few programs have actually been shown to be effective. One of the main issues is that “bullying prevention” is often a misnomer; instead of trying to stop the behavior before it begins, the focus of many programs is on reducing already high rates of bullying. By the time students enter sixth grade, the earliest grade for which nationally representative data is collected, nearly 28 percent report having been targeted in the past year. For younger children, data are far more limited, but suggestive. The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence found that 20.4 percent of children ages 2-5 had experienced physical bullying in their lifetime and 14.6 percent had been teased (verbally bullied).

To actually prevent bullying before it starts, we need to focus on how bullying behaviors develop—for those engaging in bullying behaviors and those being targeted—starting in early childhood. Child Trends recently conducted a literature review and convened an expert roundtable, which NAEYC took part in, to document current understandings of the roots of bullying in early childhood. We identified key contextual factors linked to bullying behaviors, promising and evidence-based programs that help address emerging behavior, and the need for further research.

Research on bullying and early childhood development is limited. When we talk about bullying, the early childhood audience is often forgotten. There remains immense debate in the field about how to distinguish between typical, sometimes aggressive behavior that young children show and the more strategic and deliberate behaviors that define bullying. In preparing their uniform definition of bullying, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined bullying as being between “school-aged youth,” recognizing that the behaviors observed in young children are often not what we traditionally think of as bullying, but are developmental in nature, as children first begin to navigate interactions with peers. Many young children who are aggressive with their peers will not engage in bullying behaviors in later childhood and adolescence. Likewise, being the target of an aggressive behavior does not mean that child will be victimized for life. Still, these early aggressions (and conversely, the early skills of sharing, listening, and empathy) are precursors to later behavior, and it is important to intervene early. More research is needed to understand the trajectory of early aggression into bullying behaviors.

Despite the limited literature, four key factors consistently seemed to be related to bullying behaviors in young children:

1) Parents’ treatment of each other, their children, and others influences how young children treat their peers. Specifically, parents’ use of harsh discipline and children’s exposure to domestic violence are related to increases in bullying behavior, while parents’ positive engagement in their children’s lives, such as through interactive play, reading, and meals together, seems to be protective against bullying behavior. Parents serve as role models for their children, and modeling empathy, concern, and care for others may help deter later bullying. Resources such as those provided by the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education can help parents expand their own “circle of concern” and help their children do so, too. (It should be noted here that the majority of current research looks at the behaviors and characteristics of mothers; studies looking at the role of fathers are more limited, primarily because mothers are more likely to be the primary caregiver for young children and more likely to respond to the research. Some effort is being made, however, to address the role of fathers in bullying prevention.)

2) Young children exposed to maltreatment are more likely to be involved in bullying, both as the target and the aggressor. Not only can maltreatment change children’s behaviors, it has been shown to fundamentally alter the development of young children’s brain structures, which can lead to developmental deficits including in the social and emotional domains. Early intervention is critical to help stem these delays. Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence Raising Safe Kids, an evidence-based program specifically aimed at helping reduce child maltreatment and promote positive parenting strategies, is one approach that shows promise.

3) Television and other media can contribute to the development of both aggression and pro-social skills. Screen time for your children is one of the most debated subjects among early childhood advocates. Research shows that increased television watching is related to increases in aggressive behavior even if the content is not inherently violent. Conversely, when shows are specifically designed to promote skills such as sharing, empathy, and other pro-social skills—shows like Sesame StreetDaniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, or in past generations, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—children are more likely to engage in these behaviors after viewing.

4) Building young children’s social and emotional skills and promoting welcoming classrooms can significantly reduce aggression. Evaluations of several evidence-based social and emotional learning programs for young children, such as PATHS for Preschool, Second Step, and Al’s Pals, show that helping children understand and control their own emotions, and understand those of others, can significantly reduce conflict and aggression. Even without these formalized interventions, teachers of young children (and parents for that matter) can work to reduce bullying behaviors. The Guidance Matters column in the professional journal Young Children provides a number of resources that can support these efforts.

Overall, it is clear that more attention needs to be paid to identifying, researching, and preventing the roots of bullying behavior in young children. It is only when we recognize that bullying behaviors do not simply appear in elementary or middle school, but may be part of a developmental trajectory, that will we be able to stop bullying.

Source: Child Trends

Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/to-prevent-bullying-focus-on-early-childhood/

Elevating Quality Rating and Improvement System Communications: How to Improve Outreach to and Engagement with Providers, Parents, Policymakers, and the Public

7/2015

Thirty-nine states have adopted quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) to rate and support child care and education providers and centers serving children birth to age five. Communications plays a critical role in engaging providers, parents, partners, policymakers, and the public in QRIS. From Child Trends’ communications team, this report provides examples of what some states are doing to market their QRIS, and recommendations for other states.

Source: Child Trends

Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=elevating-quality-rating-and-improvement-system-communications-how-to-improve-outreach-to-and-engagement-with-providers-parents-policymakers-and-the-public

ZERO TO THREE: Parent Portal

7/2015

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parenting is an ongoing process of learning who your individual child is and what he needs to thrive.  Our resources are designed to help you tune in to what makes your child tick, and to guide you in thinking about the best way to meet your child’s individual needs.

  • Learn all about how development unfolds in the early years and how you can support your child’s healthy, overall growth.
  • Explore how you can help your young child learn to manage emotions, gain self-control, build self-confidence, and make great friends.
  • Discover how children are learning all the skills they need to be successful in school, starting from birth, with your loving guidance.
  • Explore everyday ways to help babies and toddlers learn important concepts, to be good problem-solvers, and to get along with others, through play.
  • Gain understanding about the root causes of some of the most common challenges parents face in children’s early years and how you can respond in ways that teach self-control and critical coping skills.
  • Read about what to expect around sleep in the early years and how to prevent and troubleshoot challenges that arise.
  • Learn about ways to manage your own emotions and reactions to your child that reduce stress–for you and your child–and that empowers you to nurture your child’s healthy development.

Source: ZERO TO THREE

Available at: http://www.zerotothree.org/parenting-resources/

Talking is Teaching Community Guide & Resources

7/2015

On this page, you’ll find resources designed to help you tackle the word gap and support early learning and brain development. Our resources include the Community Campaign Guide, with lessons learned from our “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaigns in Tulsa and Oakland. You’ll also find creative assets available for free download, relevant word gap references, training materials, tips for parents and more. This website is intended for a wide audience, so we hope you’ll find what you’re looking for. And if you have questions, feel free to drop us a line.

Pre-registration is required for some of these materials, so please fill out the registration form where indicated and follow the accompanying instructions. We hope these resources will serve you well, and are truly grateful to you for joining this effort.

Source: Too Small To Fail

Available at: http://toosmall.org/community

The Well-Visit Planner for Families

7/2015

The Well-Visit Planner for Families

The Well-Visit Planner is an Internet-based tool (www.wellvisitplanner.org) developed to improve well-child care for children 4 months to 6 years of age. Information in this tool is based on recommendations established by the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 3rd Edition. The tool helps parents and caregivers to customize the well-child visit to their family’s needs by helping them identify and prioritize their health risks and concerns before the well-child appointment. This means that parents and health care professionals are better able to communicate and address the family’s needs during the well-child visit.

The Well-Visit Planner and Head Start

The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) has worked with the Office of Head Start National Center on Health to expand the Well-Visit Planner through age 6 years and has prepared materials to help Head Start and Early Head Start programs use this tool with the families they serve. Knowing that school readiness begins with health, Head Start and Early Head Start programs are committed to supporting the health and well-being of every child enrolled in a program. The Well-Visit Planner has been tested in several programs, and staff have found it helpful for encouraging parents to complete well-child visits and become familiar with what is expected at each visit. The tool also reinforces the role of parents as the experts for their child’s needs—including those related to health.

Using the Well-Visit Planner in Head Start and Early Head Start Programs

In partnership with the National Center on Health, CAHMI has prepared a number of tools and resources to help programs assess their readiness to begin using the Well-Visit Planner as a standard part of their work with parents and children. There is also an implementation toolkit that helps programs with step-by-step implementation of the Well-Visit Planner within the program, including materials to help promote the use of the tool among parents. Materials are also there to help reach out to local health care professionals to help prepare them for the use of the Well-Visit Planner by their patient families.These materials will be housed on the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center but are currently available at http://www.cahmi.org/projects/wvp/, the implementation-portal.

How does the Well-Visit Planner help families?

Completing the tool, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes, will help empower parents and caregivers to identify priorities for a child’s upcoming well-child visit; it will also prepare them for what to expect at that visit. The content of the Well-Visit Planner is different based on the age of the child. It is developed to be used before each well-child visit through age 6 years. The Well-Visit Planner also includes educational materials about topics such as a child’s growth and development, language development, and safety. The educational materials address the topics of most importance for each age.

After parents use the Well-Visit Planner, they can save or print a summary or Visit Guide of the needs and priorities for the visit. They will take this summary with them to help prioritize their time with the child’s pediatrician or primary health care professional. Parents can print a copy to leave with the physician or send a copy prior to the visit if the child’s physician has a secure e-mail address. The summary can also be discussed with the parents and the family service worker and integrated into the family partnership agreement.

Additional Background

The tool was developed and is maintained by CAHMI to engage parents as partners to improve well-child care services as a part of a project supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Research Program (R40 MC08959). Continued development and implementation of the Well-Visit Planner is supported by CAHMI and volunteer advisors and through support from HRSA/Maternal and Child Health Bureau through Cooperative Agreement U59-MC06890.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, National Center on Health

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/physical-health/satf/well-visit-planner.html

Using Data for Family and Program Progress

7/2015

Learn how to use data more effectively to strengthen your work with children and families. Use these resources to support family and program progress. They are designed for Head Start, Early Head Start, and other early care and education program staff. These resources are aligned with the PFCE Framework and Head Start Program Performance Standards.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/family/assessing

4 Tips for Empowering Families!

5/2015

This two-part audio conference looks at strategies for supporting families with the youngest children. Find out how to help them feel confident and competent in their parenting. Presenters share lessons learned from the field-testing of the Legacy for Children™ parenting curriculum. Listen to the question and answer (Q&A) session for even more tips.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, Early Head Start National Resource Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/ehsnrc/comp/family-engagement/empowering-families.html

Welcome to Group Care: Parent Tip Sheets and Cards

4/2015

Parents need information on group care for their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. These tip sheets and parent cards inform families on what to expect from caregivers of children 2 months through 4 years of age. The tip sheets also include questions parents can ask their health care provider.

This set of eight tip sheets and parent cards were adapted from Bright Futures guidelines. They are divided into developmental stages and designed to help families promote the health and well-being of their children. The resources offer information on what to expect in group care, including topics such as social development, safety, eating, and physical activity.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, National Center on Health

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/health-literacy-family-engagement/family-education/tip-sheets-cards.html

Committee on Supporting the Parents of Young Children 

3/2015

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study that will inform a national framework for strengthening the capacity of parents of young children birth to age 8. The committee will examine the research to identify a core set of parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAPs) tied to positive parent-child interactions and child outcomes, as well as evidence-based strategies that support these KAPs universally and across a variety of specific populations. These KAPs and strategies will be brought together to inform a set of concrete policy recommendations, across the private and publicsectors within the health, human services, and education systems. Recommendations will be tied to promoting the wide-scale adoption of the effective strategies and the enabling of the identified KAPs. The report will also identify the most pressing research gaps and recommend three to five key priorities for future research endeavors in the field. This work will primarily inform policy makers, a wide array of child and family practitioners, private industry, and researchers. The resulting report will serve as a “roadmap” for the future of parenting and family support policies, practices, and research in this country.

The committee will address the following questions:

  1. What are the core parenting KAPs (i.e., knowledge, attitudes, practices), as identified in the literature, that support healthy child development, birth to age 8? Do core parenting KAPs differ by specific characteristics of children (e.g., age), parents, or contexts?
  2. What evidence-informed strategies to strengthen parenting capacity, including family engagement strategies implemented in various settings (e.g., homes, schools, health care centers, early childhood centers), have been shown to be effective with parents of young children, prenatal to age 8? Are there key periods of intervention that are more effective in supporting parenting capacity, beginning in high school or earlier?
  3. What types of strategies work at the universal/preventive, targeted, and intensive levels (e.g., media campaigns, information sharing, text reminders; social support groups, self-monitoring and tracking online; modeling and feedback coaching, intensive home visiting), and for which populations of parents and children? The committee will consider the appropriate balance betweenstrategies tailored to unique parent and child needs and common strategies that can be effective and accepted with parents across groups.
  4. What are the most pronounced barriers, including lack of incentives, to strengthening parenting capacity and retention in effective programs and systems designed to improve developmental, health, and education outcomes for children birth to age 8? How can programs and systems be designed to remove these barriers?
  5. Are there evidence-based models of systems and programs that support parenting capacity and build upon existing assets of families, including underserved, low income families of color?
  6. What are 3-5 research areas that warrant further investigation, in order to inform policy and practice?

Source: Institute of Medicine, National Academies of Science

Available at: http://iom.nationalacademies.org/activities/children/committeeonsupportingtheparentsofyoungchildren.aspx

Birth to Three Archive 2014

3/2015

The 18th Annual Birth to Three Institute (BTT) was a three-day event designed to enhance the quality of services for expectant parents, infants, toddlers, and families. Explore the plenary sessions and webinars below by topic. They may be helpful to: Early Head Start (EHS), Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start, child care, and family child care staff; training and technical assistance providers; and the broader early childhood community.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, Early Head Start National Resource Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/ehsnrc/btt/archive_2014.html