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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Teaching Moment: Being Bullied (just a little bit)

Having an only child has its drawbacks. One example is, your child has no experience in handling a bully that’s older and bigger than he is. Those with older siblings definitely have the advantage of experience in this situation.

Today I let my four year old son handle a problem on his own and then taught him later. A bully came up and forced him off of what he was playing on. We were at a playground and he was on a particular piece of playground equipment that only seats one at a time. There was another one just like it, but it was occupied by this bully’s sister. 

The bully was an older girl, I’m guessing to be about 9. She wanted on it and I saw her tell him to get off. He ignored her and kept on riding. She then worked her way onto the ride, eventually crowding him off. Since she didn’t shove him to the ground, etc, I did not intervene as I wanted to see how he would handle it. I would have intervened had it she became physical. And I wanted to intervene, believe me, I did! It irritated me that she did this to my baby and of course her mother was too busy talking on her cell phone the entire time we were there, to notice.

I know he’s faced squabbles over playground equipment and toys before, but this was the first time he had to deal with an older child. All the other events were with kids his own age and size.

Anyway, my son the entire time was looking at me for help on what to do. He was waiting for me to come and make it right, I’m sure. He finally gave up after he was forced off and came over to me. I was glad he didn’t come to me crying or pouting, he just seemed confused. He told me what happened and asked me what he could do. That’s when the teaching moment came in.

I told him that, yes what the girl did was mean and was wrong, but that sometimes kids are like that. I then told him I was happy he didn’t get mean back by shoving or hitting her, that would not have been right. I asked him what he thought he could have said to her. He shrugged and said he didn’t know. I went on to explain what he could have said and did to maybe have her stop and what to do if she didn’t or got rough with him.

It was very hard to watch him get bullied, even if it was only a little. At least I was there to monitor it in case it escalated and I was relieved it didn’t. I was proud of myself for not interfering, even though the Mama Bear in me wanted to! I knew it was something he had to experience without mom rushing in to help.

I know the time is coming though, when he’s going to be bullied by a child who will get nasty with him and want to fight. I just hope I know what to say to him when he comes to me then. I know what I did when I was a child – I was a scrapper. You pushed me and I pushed back – hard. And then the fight was on! But I had six older brothers. I was bullied everyday! 

It’s going to be hard for me to find the right way to teach my son that yes, I want him to stand up for himself and protect himself, but not turn into a bully himself either.

A new road to traverse pops up all the time, doesn’t it?

Have you ever had a child seriously bullied? How did you handle it?

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