During one of our ‘pillow talks where the boys tell me about their day in school, Mikhail my oldest told me in a sad voice that one particular student always cuts him off in lines. He sounded really hurt about this as the ‘bully’ was none other than his bff. Then his 4-year old brother Kenyan piped in that two of his friends punch him and hurt him almost daily. I took this with a grain of salt knowing how kids are prone to tall tales and he was no angel. Then as a daddy, I handed down my verdict in no uncertain terms.
“Mik, if someone keeps cutting you off in line, you stand your ground and don’t let them. Do not take that from anyone. You hear me? I don’t care who they are.” To Kenyan, I said, “Look Kenyan, you are one of the toughest 4-year old I know. You can kick any of those kids’ butt. Don’t let anyone push you around. If you are punched, punch back, ok?”
With bullying being a growing phenomenon, I pray that none of my boys would ever be a victim. Every report them being hit or taunted is taken seriously. As children have a habit of embellishing, I do look deeper into their stories. “Daddy, a boy punched me.” could very well be a kid giving my son a goodbye punch at the end of school.
I teach my kids that hitting is wrong and that they should always keep their hands to themselves, except to hug of course and that has to be mutual. There are consequences for failure to comply. Advising them to retaliate goes against this teaching but it is a necessary evil. I simply do not want my boys to be punching bags. There’s a time for diplomacy and a time for action. I am teaching them to know the difference.
- Bullying in Preschool: What Parents Need to Know (education.com)
- Bullying: ‘Just fight back’ doesn’t work (cnn.com)