Listen to the blog here: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Stop-Them-Early-e13jaou
I know I’m a bit protective of my boys, but I didn’t realize the extent of the mommy- bear gene until G’s first bullying experience. He was playing with a group of boys when one of them (who at age 5 already walks around with a scowl and a puffed out chest) decided to push him and make a comment to the effect of ‘come at me, bro’ – I’m embellishing a little.
To my unsurprise, G ignored the kid and turned his attention to the rest of the group. The boy tried one more time, and I ALMOST jumped to action, but instead, let G walk away. I was proud of my boy for being the bigger person. And I didn’t bring it up again.
But this certainly got me thinking. I was shocked that we were already experiencing these sorts of encounters. G already had to make the decision to rise above. He was being picked on and didn’t cry or retaliate, but I’m sure he felt strange or belittled. At the age of 5!
I’m sure some would say “boys will be boys”, but I don’t take that statement lightly. First of all, bullying happens with girls too. And second, boys will only be bullies if they are not taught how to be caring.
We often circle back to the story “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” where they talk about boosting morale (filling buckets) versus being a bully (bucket dipper). We can pretty much recite it at this point.
But more importantly, we don’t tolerate bullying in or outside the household. While brothers will certainly fight, we always tell the defender to take the high road and correct the offender. If we are in an external setting, we encourage taking turns, showing empathy, and overall, being kind. We have often told both boys to go introduce themselves to another child at the park who seems shy or is having trouble fitting in.
While I do not know if that boy has been corrected at home or if he is a work-in-progress, I do feel like he could use a little more intervening…especially since his dad was sitting not 15 feet away from me and said nothing.
It all starts at home.