Originally Posted by Cascadian
How is it that there are SO MANY MEAN KIDS AND BULLIES around?
I think a lot of reality is perception. If we perceive that there are lots of mean kids around, that bullies are at every turn, then every shove on the playground or unkind remark made in earshot seems like yet another case of bullying.
As PPs have mentioned, while aggressive behavior needs to be addressed and curbed, it is not always some sign of a child in crisis or a society gone wrong. Kids are people who are still learning, and labeling every kid who pushes, takes a toy, screams at someone, or any of the other 1000 anti-social behaviors that sometimes come from our kids as a bully or a mean kid is no more right than labeling every kid who doesn't stand up to the aggressive behavior as a wimp.
At risk of sounding like a "toughen up" advocate, I have noticed that my son interacts very differently with different children. He is almost 3, much larger than most of his peers, and is a bundle of energy and excitement. At 18 months, he was called a bully by a mom in our play group for doing what I see as normal toddler things - taking toys and playing rougher than her son prefers to. She and her husband still refer to my son as the bully in half-jest. To her, my kid really is a bully. I think that the more she puts that idea out there, the more her son will "be" a victim. She has a very coddling nature and coddles him any time she anticipates something might upset him.
Some kids my son plays with love to give big hugs and play hard. *Wrestling* is a fun activity for some of them. They run hard and hold hands and play tug of war with playsilks - all in good fun, and no one gets hurt. I think it is hard for my son at nearly 3 to remember that some people like to play different games. What some kids and parents see as good, physical fun is seen by the mom (who calls my son a bully) as horrifying and aggressive even when her son is not involved.
Perception of the activities/behaviors by different parents makes all the difference.
I think it is our duty as parents to teach our children to treat other people as those people want to be treated. It is also our job to help our children to be strong and confident enough to stand up for themselves and other people. We have a obligation to teach our children not to be bullies or victims.