The Social and Emotional Benefits of Play
Bullying is on the rise. A shocking number of incidents in school cafeterias and schoolyards and on the Internet as “cyberbullying” take place daily. It shows up at home among siblings too.
But let’s not throw up our hands in despair. There are many things that can be done to reduce it. What is bullying? A push, a shove, name-calling or shunning are all forms of bullying when used to gain power and control over others.
Barbara Coloroso in her book, The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander, believes that one of the ways of reducing the threat of bullying in our schools and homes is to encourage kids to get involved in activities with their peers that promote creative, responsible and prosocial behaviour.
As parents, we can help our kids to seek release of their pent-up frustration and boredom through play. Bullies often feel bad about themselves. They may be hurting inside. We must find positive ways to help them fill that emotional hole.
When kids are involved in interests and activities that engage them, they are less prone to seek release through antisocial behaviour such as bullying. Among other things, play helps them develop empathy as kids negotiate the parametres of a game.
A child who wants to be a friend invites others into his world. This is in direct contrast to a bully who tries to boss kids into doing what he wants them to do by using “or else” scare tactics.