The bigger boy walked right up to my son and pulled him off the swing. I didn’t say anything for a few moments because I couldn’t believe what I just saw. My cheeks felt instantly hot as I went to reach for my child. My poor baby, is he hurt?
Asking the boy, who’d just bullied my son off the swing, where his mother was didn’t help. The kid gave me a snicker and ran off into the sea of other children playing.
What in the world had just happened?
My mind starts to race as I’m hugging my toddler and plotting what I’ll tell that little creep’s mother. I vowed to deliver the news that her kid was a bad seed. He was probably destined for the penitentiary with the rest of the meanie-heads.
It was at this moment that I knew I was too angry to have a conversation with anyone’s mother. They would only hear the tone of my voice, not that their child was a bully. I felt helpless at this point. I felt angry. But what was my child feeling?
Is there anything I could have done to prevent this? What should I have done afterwards? My mama bear instincts were going into overdrive. I needed to cool down, so we left the area. It was the first time I’d ever seen someone be mean to my child.
Let’s face it, at some point in time, our children get picked on. But I thought bullies were only in Junior High. My son’s pint-sized bully looked about 5 years old. It made me sad to think of a child so young being a bully to my son.
I got to wondering—
What makes a bully:
- Choosing to be mean to another.
- Being secretive about negative behavior.
- Getting joy from being mean.
- Encouraging others to be a bully.
- Selecting a perceived weaker victim.
Examples of a bully:
- Repeated aggressive behavior such as hitting or kicking.
- Verbal threats like do what I say or you’ll get hurt.
- Mean-spirited teasing or name calling, including, you’re ugly or you’re stupid.
- Destroys property which could mean ruining someone’s work or tearing up toys.
- Unjustly accusing – an example for this would be hiding an object and blaming another to get them into trouble.
Here are examples of what bullying is not:
- Being naturally bossy.
- Bumping into someone by accident.
- Being ignored.
- Not liking someone.
Children have to learn how to co-exist within their community. Sometimes the lessons are more painful than other times. Maybe even more so for the parents.
It’s our responsibility to teach our children what behavior is acceptable and what behavior isn’t. Although there is going to be a certain amount of conflict within an age group, we have to recognize what are normal growing pains and what could be bullying.
A great way to help your kids cope with the world around them is to hear, learn and tell.
1. Have them listen to what is being said around them.
- Does it make them feel scared or sad? Let them know what some trigger phrases of bullying might be, such as: you better not tell anyone, so they are prepared if they do hear it.
2. Educate your kids on what is bullying versus what is an accident.
- Let them know that we all make mistakes and we’re sorry if we hurt someone. A bully is not sorry but is happy when he or she is able to make another child scared or cry.
3. Telling is not tattling.
- Your children might be fearful of being labeled a tattletale or snitch, help them understand the difference between the two. Alerting an adult of a situation is vastly different from saying their buddy took a piece of candy.
I still remember the little boy’s face and his smirk after he jerked my son off the swing. I’m also still ticked off about it. And that’s pretty much life because there are always gonna be bullies just like there will always be good-hearted folks too.