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What would You do?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

We had an bullying incident on the playground recently and I am still worked up (and it's been three weeks). My 5-yr old son was at a neighborhood playground located next to an elementary school. The playground was busy with lots of kids, and there were a few older boys (2nd or 3rd grade I'm guessing), and my son was behind them in line for the slide. I wasn't really paying attention and all of a sudden my son is in front of me, telling me that one of the boys told him that if he didn't leave the slide, the boy was going to punch him in the face. I was mortified of course, but I asked my son what he wanted me to do - should I go talk to the boy or find his parents or.... and my son walked away. I thought, okay, he's not devastated by this, so I'll let it go. But I did keep an eye on that boy in the light blue shirt.


My son went off to play somewhere else, but eventually got back to the slide where, yes, those same boys were. On the way up to the slide, my son had to climb a rope ladder, and as he was reaching the top "rungs," that boy in the blue shirt pretended to stomp on my son's hands. My son saw it, but climbed up anyway. I don't know if my son knew what that boy was trying to do (scare him) because my son hasn't run into this obvious bullying behavior before, as far as I know.


I watched my son keep climbing up the playground to get in line for the slide. I heard one of the boys say, "okay, everyone hang on to each other." And then I heard another boy say, "Get out of here or I'll punch you in the face." Next my son starts walking back the way he came, and I waited for the boys to slide down. (I hoped my son would take his time coming down.) I waited for that boy to come out of the tube slide, and when he did I was all over him like stink on shit.


I asked him if he said that to my son. He looked at his friend and kinda smirked and said, "I was only joking." I asked him where his mom was; he said she wasn't there. I said that he probably went to the elementary school next door, and he said he didn't live in this town. Argh! I was running out of things to say!  So I just told him to leave. Leave the playground now, and if I ever saw him there again, I would find out who he was and call his parents.  On hindsight, I should have taken a photo of him with my iPhone ;)  The boys started walking away and lo and behold, an adult starts walking up to them, asking what was happening. I walked up to her and told her what that kid said, and she said that she wasn't the boy's mom, but she'd let the mom know what happened.


I am actually scared to go back to that playground now and I'm scared for my son. I feel like there should be a bullying police that parents or kids can call in cases like this. It was so unacceptable that I was just caught off-guard. I am lucky that I'm not in jail for assaulting a minor.


What could I have done differently?

post #2 of 12

I really don't have much experience with bullying as a parent (my lo is almost 2). That is a tough situation. I hate seeing kids act that way. I am bumping your question up so hopefully someone with better insight can help. I think you did the right thing. It must have been hard not to punch him!

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Melirose View Post

I really don't have much experience with bullying as a parent (my lo is almost 2). That is a tough situation. I hate seeing kids act that way. I am bumping your question up so hopefully someone with better insight can help. I think you did the right thing. It must have been hard not to punch him!

He was so smug about it. That is really what chapped my hide. Smiling at his friend, not telling me any info. At what point do I haul the kid off to jail? I mean, there's not much a parent can do if the perpetrator doesn't relinquish his name, address, school, etc. Thanks for bumping this. I spoke with friends of mine about it, and most of them have girls, so I'm not sure they'll deal with this (physical-type bullying) as much as parents with boys do. Don't get me wrong, girls are evil, too, but in a different way winky.gif

post #4 of 12
The first time my DD came to me with comments like that I would say, a little loudly but not yelling, I am sure he/she won't do that again, they are so big and big kids don't act like three year olds. I never had one try to prove me wrong.

If you get a comment about his mom not being there next time you could pull out your cell phone and say you'd better call the police so they can find him a better home.
post #5 of 12

I don't really have advice but would like to relay a recent bullying story. My son is three and wanted to climb up and take a turn on the slide, he knew that he was to wait for his turn, except no one was budging.. It is a type of combo stucture, all connected, not a stand alone slide. There is a type of wavy plastic bridge structure in which to cross first, then he had to get to the stairs of the slide. A hundred yards from the playground are some ball fields, a baseball game was taking place and I saw one adult on the playground and loads of children.............therefore no supervision for most of the children. They likely had siblings in the game.


What happened next shocked me. I heard 'BLOCK HIM;' my 33-34 pound three year old was trying to get to the slide and a little girl, no more than five years, stood blocking him with a sort of blank look on her face, then after that were a string of boys, maybe three boys. She wouldn't budge, so I climbed up and went with my son, I said EXCUSE ME  we slid past her and I proceeded to say EXCUSE ME loudly to the boys, then one boy moved and I thanked him in earnest because I knew it he too was likely being bulled, maybe two boys stayed ON the slide, not moving. I said THIS IS NOT SAFE, PLEASE MOVE. I said it again loudly. Then I slid down with my son. They had to move. I think it happened to a lesser degree once more, then they left, moved on, away from the playground.


It left me disgusted.

post #6 of 12

We are very familiar with bullies.  Dealing with them is a fine line because it's easy for yourself to turn into the bully and threaten the child to not ever do that to your kid.  Yes, what the kid is doing is wrong.  But it is a learned behavior from either home or being bullied himself.  My oldest has been bullied repeatedly by our neighbor kid who is in an abusive home.  We do not allow our children to play with those kids because they are basically becoming abusive to other kids.  Bullies are everywhere.  They are in neighborhoods, schools, the workplace, etc.  The best thing to do is to teach your child how to respond versus just avoiding any situation with a bully.

post #7 of 12

When I'm dealing with other kids, I always try to come from a place of "adultness" -- I know that's not a word, but it means I approach knowing I am the authority, I deserve respect, and I am going to fix this situation.  In this situation (and I have been in similar) I would go up to the boy and gently say something like, "Wow, I can't believe you threatened to punch a little  boy.  I'm sure you didn't mean it, because you look like a nice kid." At this point the kid should look ashamed and say something like, "no, I didn't mean it".  


I once approached a group of scary looking teenage boys in a public park who were slinging around the F-bomb.  I smiled and said, "hey guys, I guess you didn't realize the little kids could hear you!  I don't think you want them learning those kinds of words yet."  They shook their heads and looked down.  I laughed to myself a while later when a new kid joined the group and started swearing -- the boys told him to stop because the little kids could hear him :-)

post #8 of 12

It's really hard not to get on his level.  In fact, I don't think I've ever handled bullying from an adult level, I kind of snap.  


What I would have done was said "If you so much as speak to my son again, I will drag you from this park myself...DO.YOU.UNDERSTAND?  You little Jerk".   (O.K, maybe I wouldn't overreact like that)


But, what I SHOULD do is exactly as Loveandkindness said.  "Wow, I can't believe you threatened to punch a little  boy.  I'm sure you didn't mean it, because you look like a nice kid." At this point the kid should look ashamed and say something like, "no, I didn't mean it".    


In reality, kids this age can and will learn to navigate bullying on their own.  Because the older kid was being more of a jerk than an actual bully, you could probably have made some Mama Bear eye contact with the big kid and fixed it with a little "I'm watching you".  That same kid probably isn't nearly as tough when he's not showing off for his friend.  

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

All good advice. Thank you. 


When my child is crying, it's hard to be the sane adult in the situation, especially when my first reaction is to drag the bully off the playground by his ear. I am going to have to work on that. Maybe with practice (gods forbid), I will be able to think clearly and come up with some good lines similar to what loveandkindness suggested.


We are going to enroll my son in martial arts, so hopefully that will give him tools to handle these situations. It will happen again, and next time I may not be there. It's so sad that children bully other kids.


I remember when I was five and walking home from kindergarten, another neighborhood girl was walking with me; we had just become friends. We saw another (lone) girl and my new friend told me to hold her. I did. My new friend punched her. I remember not feeling good about it, but I didn't think when I was doing it and was just following orders. :\  The next day, my teacher at school spoke to me about it. Nothing really happened, no punishment, no talking to my parents - but I never did that again. I was lucky to be one of the tallest in class throughout my elementary school days and was never bullied (that I can remember). To this day I tend to get in arguments with people I don't know because I stand up for those that I feel are being wronged or not speaking up for themselves. I wonder if that incident when I was five has something to do with that. Sigh.


Asiago - What an awful situation, especially for someone so young. :(  

post #10 of 12

My perspective may be off- because when it happens to your own child, as you described, it can be very heartbreaking to see someone be mean to them! So my advice is only from the outside perspective.


I see that little bully boy as probably being treated that way at home, so I feel compassion both for your son who had to  bullied and for the bully himself who may not have a loving supportive home to learn and live in. Kids often act in ways similar to what they see, either at home or somewhere else they frequent.


My perspective on mean people, though, lately is to try to stay away from them. I have found that trying to change a mean person can often be a whole lot of work with minimal reward. Of course if one is moved to try to awaken someone else that is a good project.


But it sounds like your concern (as mine would be too) is how to protect your son from the bullying and how to model for him how to respond to such a thing.

I would personally tell a child I was caring for if that happened to them- that in this situation it is best just to walk away for now. If it is a one time incident just walk away and maybe the adults in the situation can feel compassion for the bully- for what he has to deal with that made him so mean!


And then I would just extra love my kid up  and hug him and kiss him and say- oh, my love, I am sorry that boy was mean to you. I hope you feel okay.

I would try to teach my kid not to take it personally, but to instead see that kid as someone who acts mean, and to try to stay out of that kids way for a bit while things were charged.

I wouldn't take it further- and I wouldn't avoid the playground.


If Itook my kid back there and saw that boy was there, I would just stay really close to my boy that whole time in the playground.


Then you can assess if the bully kid backs off, and you can teach your own son that he can respond with both strength and kindness and gentleness. By simply seeing in himself (which you can teach him) that he (your son) is not mean, that the behavior the boy did is unkind and wrong, but that maybe he is an angry/sad kid- or you could leave that last part out.


Then I would see if it becomes a repeated problem. If a boy bullies your kid more times, well if he did it one more time I would go up to him myself (unless he was really scary in which case I would not confront him) and say- please stop saying mean things to my child. (in a strong firm but not mean voice- just in your full power)


If he kept doing it afterwards and it became a recurrent problem then you could reassess the situation and choose what to do.


I don't think you need to have your  kid be scared to go back to the park- but since there is a threat, you can just stay close to your kid for the next couple of times you are there.


I thin kit is good to model to kids how we can see someone being mean, and we don't have to be mean back, and we don't have to be beaten down by it. We can tap into our own self love/our parents' love, and decide to separate ourselves from the bullying and thus be strong and gentle.


Even as an adult- it took me years to get to this place- I can see mean people as just- being mean- sometimes to whomever is in their path- and so I can take it less personally.

post #11 of 12
At my wedding there was a bouncy castle for the kids and one of the boys was bullying the other kids by not letting them on. My Aunty J (a long time teacher) went up to the boy, asked his name, then used his name to address him firmly while making it clear that 1) his behaviour would not be tolerated and 2) now it was time for the other children to bounce. She bent over to be closer and make eye contact and that combined with using his name made his behaviour transform instantly!
post #12 of 12
Thanks for that tidbit about Aunty J!!
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