Creating Safe, Affirming and Fair childcare settings

Using everyday interactions with children in childcare to build environments to prevent bullying.

Respect for all begins early and can last a lifetime; from showing kids that others need their space, things and wishes attended to, to verbalizing cues others are giving.

Examples might include: When Hannah (2.5-years-old) turns away from Micah (1.5-years-old) telling him, “I don’t think Hannah wants to be touched.” Or, when Micah is upset saying, “I see you are upset, maybe we can help by getting you a different toy.” Building social and emotional competencies through everyday occurrences like this example is one step in the prevention of bullying.

Michigan State University Extension educators are linking with childcare agencies and conferences in Northwest Michigan to address bullying in communities through workshops designed to build awareness, knowledge and skills, as well as providing resources and curriculum training. These workshops and trainings are based on research and evidence that shows that helping young children feel physically and emotionally safe is essential to their development, overall health and future academic success. Kids benefit from consistent and repeated positive messages across community settings where they live, learn and play. BeSafe: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments says that creating a climate in childcare settings that will help children feel a sense of belonging and that is rich in character traits such as caring, compassion, fairness, trust, responsibility, resilience and courage is fundamental.

A key component in providing a healthy childcare environment is to foster positive behavior supports for all children. Recognizing children for helpful actions and good choices instills more of these desired behaviors and internal satisfaction for the child. Above and beyond, the exchange between provider and child is the overall tone. Positive words are a powerful influence on language, learning and vocabulary for all children who are listening.

Raising a healthy community can begin with a close look at what and how we are teaching our youngest to understand feelings, interact socially and reflect on choices in all settings. Additional resources for childcare providers can be found through the Department of Human Resources and Great Start.