You can help give kids the tools they need to calm down and treat their peers more gently.

  • Move the child to a safe, quiet spot so she can calm down. Encourage her to take slow, deep breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth.
  • Remind him to use his words, not his fists. Give him some clear, simple rules, like “Tell, don’t touch,” or “Say it with words.”
  • After she calms down, brainstorm together other ways she could have dealt with the problem. Ask her how the other child might feel.
  • Encourage him to own his behavior and give a true apology to the person he has hurt. Then reassure him that everyone makes mistakes, and help him to move on. Praise any efforts to make things right.

If “mean behavior” becomes “bullying”:

  • An adult should step in right away. Bullying may be a sign that the child is struggling with big feelings that need to be explored and discussed so that the behavior can be stopped.
  • Make sure other children know that when they see bullying, they should tell an adult and ask for help. Let the child who is being bullied know it is not her fault and she can move away: “I don’t like the way you’re acting. I’m going to play with someone else.”