Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Neil Katz


Bullied, Bully, Bullying, Childplay, Conflict, Preschooler


Bullying in schools is largely discussed when referring to middle and high school students. Students in preschool are often considered to be too young to carry out acts of bullying. Unfortunately, this is contrary to the truth. Bullying among children aged 2-5 is very common, although it can easily be dismissed as a normal stage in child development. Educators and observers argue that bullying in preschool occurs when a child or a group of children intimidate another child or group of children to the point that it becomes a behavioral pattern. Evidence shows that 2-5 year-olds engage in acts intended to cause physical or emotional harm on their peers. Young children exposed to bullying display similar symptoms as older children, including sleeping problems, stomach pains, headaches and fear to attend school. The qualitative phenomenological method was chosen, as this research was exploratory in nature. The data collected for the research was conducted utilizing several methods such as surveys, phone calls, and in-person interviews. The goal was to gain more information regarding preschool bullying, as there is currently very limited information on this topic, as well as to determine whether this behavior was seen as child-play or bullying by adult caregivers. The experience freely and graciously shared by the participants led to five themes, which provided a conceptual framework for the study, and allowed the 20 participants to share their experiences.