Battles On The Playground

I really didn’t think that bullying was going to become an issue. Naive on my part, I’m sure. But to be able to witness it, and fight the urge to jump in to my kids defense has been hard.

We haven’t even really talked about it, or played through scenarios on how to handle it.

When Miles & I come to school to pick Elijah up, we always stay and play a little on the playground. There are two play structures, one for small kids and one for bigger kids. They are separated by a blacktop, so I can’t watch both areas at the same time. Which is okay, both boys want to be on the bigger play structure.

On Monday, an older boy, probably first grade, maybe second grade, saw Miles playing and confronted him. He mocked Miles’ t-shirt, called him a baby and laughed saying he wears diapers. Miles defended himself, but ultimately ran to Elijah to tell him what the boy said. Elijah proceeded to get in the kid’s face and say, “my brother is not a baby, he’s 3. He doesn’t wear diapers”. The kid blew him off, and I told Miles just ignore him, play somewhere else.

Wednesday afternoon, it was a repeat of Monday. He saw Miles, mocked his clothes, and called him a baby. This time, Miles gave him the evil eye and said “I hate you. You’re a meanie” The kid didn’t have a response, but he looked in Miles’ direction, Miles reminded him, I hate you. The boy retorted with “don’t call me a meanie. If I see you on this playground again and you say you hate me and I’m a meanie, I’m gonna tell your mom”.

The kid was called away, and I told Miles, if you don’t want to be near that kid, just move away, play somewhere else.

I can’t wrap my mind around why this boy is going out of his way to pick on Miles. I’m trying to walk the line between letting my kids fight their own battles, and being a helicopter mom.

I open it up to you dear readers, any advice you can give, any similar experiences, please share it with me.

6 thoughts on “Battles On The Playground

  1. I'm not sure what the "experts" would say, but personally, when the age-difference is so great (a 3 yr old vs. a kid twice his age), I'd step in, but in a way that was non confrontational, at least at first.

    In other words, I'd stand within visible ear-shot of the bully. I'd make eye contact with him if he comes near Miles.

    Odds are, he won't be a bully in front of you, and he may tire of this game and find someone else to pick on.

    He's picking on Miles BECAUSE he's smaller. This makes him feel bigger. (That's just my assessment from afar.)

    If he DOES start in on Miles when you're there, say loudly (to Miles but so the kid can hear), "Let's go play where the big kids aren't mean to the little kids. Let's go play on that," and go play in a different section.

    Now, if the boy was picking on Elijah, someone who is closer to his age, I'd step back and see what happens. It sounds like Elijah knows to stand up for himself.

    We dealt with a "bully" of a different kind with Claire when she was 3yrs old, and I don't want to hijack your comment field to tell that story, but I taught Claire to be upfront with her feelings and say, "I don't play with people who hit me," and walk away. (And I always stepped in when the bullying got physically violent, which it almost always did.) *sigh*

    Good luck!!

  2. Hey Melissa.

    Good job to Elijah for stepping in for Miles! I agree with the other comment. When it's Miles, make sure the bully sees that you're right there. And if necessary say something to him, in a calm but very firm tone. 'Do not talk to him like that'. or 'Please stop it'.
    Julia is in Kindergarten too…keeping my fingers crossed for the first conferences.


  3. Ugh. That's a tough situation and I'm so sorry to hear that you're all having to go through it.

    I agree with JoAnn's advice, but my first thoughts also go to: where is this boy's mother? I would definitely be telling her what is going on so that she can address it with her son. She may appreciate being made aware of it, or it may go horribly wrong, but either way, his behavior is her responsibility.

    So sad that Miles is having to experience this at such a young age, or even at all. Reagan has never been bullied that I know of, but I have seen her left out by older girls and it breaks my heart. Not looking forward to dealing with the cruelty of girls as she gets even older.

  4. i have three boys and they all got bullied to some degree when they were very young. i never liked telling on the bully's parents, because parents will deny their child's wrong doings no matter how obvious.
    so what we did, is that we taught our kids to see the other side. we told them that the bully was not having a good life. they most likely don't have any friends…etc. i think it helped my kids understand that they didn't do anything wrong, they don't need to be afraid, just aware.
    perhaps this is a totally wrong way to handle the situation, but there is no way i want my kids to feel like they did anything wrong or to be afraid to have fun. after this my kids learned to avoid the bullies and even befriended them on a couple occasions.

    good luck melissa.

  5. I'm not a parent, so I don't really have advice to offer. But I have to say — I think Miles' own reaction was priceless. He called the kid on his behavior, and it obviously got to the bully, if he's threatening to tell Miles' mom about it. I think that's hilarious — as if you'd be upset with Miles for calling a meanie a meanie! I think the suggestion to just be around, so the kid can see you're there and know what's going on was a good one. And explaining to them that some people just aren't nice — it's something they'll sadly have to learn through the years.

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