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Bullying: A Sleepy Problem?

An interesting article in the NYT’s brought some new thinking to the bully problem. New research suggests that “aggressive behavior is twice as likely in a child with sleep disordered breathing like snoring or daytime sleepiness.”  There is no causal relationship proven by lack of sleep and bullying, but this study does underscore how important sleep is to “emotional regulation and decision-making capabilities.”  At Think:Kids, we believe strongly that your explanation must guide your intervention, and clearly traditional approaches to reducing bullying wouldn’t be too effective if one of the prime contributors (for example: lack of sleep) wasn’t addressed.

We have recently launched efforts to offer our own bullying prevention training program.  Our motto “children do well if they can” applies to bullies as well…”bullies do well if they can.”  Yet how to empathize with the mean kid in the class who shoves others and leaves lunches boxes upside down in the dirt?  How do you wrap your head around if the bully could do well he would do well?  We believe that bullies lack crucial skills, often in the realm of social thinking such as: taking another’s point of view, empathy, awareness of the impact of your behavior on others, difficulty entering a group and connecting with others, and the list goes on.

If bullies lack these skills, they won’t respond to typical forms of discipline.  Suspending a bully doesn’t help him/her learn the skills they need so they won’t bully in the future.

Back to the article: evidently setting a bedtime isn’t just to get your kids out of your hair so you can have a glass of wine and watch a TV show
(although that’s an upside to bedtime!). It may help prevent your child from being involved in disruptive and bullying behavior with their peers.  That’s worth thinking about!

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