Author Topic: The obligation of parents of a bully?  (Read 9241 times)

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Knitterly

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The obligation of parents of a bully?
« on: May 15, 2013, 12:42:54 PM »
What is the social obligation of the parents of a child who can be a bit of a bully in regards to the children that their own child has been mean to and in regards to the parents of that child?

I know that the moral obligation is to discipline one's own child appropriately and try to ensure they come to see their behaviour as being unkind and not acceptable.

We are talking about toddlers.

It may also be helpful to know what one's obligations are as one's child gets older, too, though.

LadyL

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 12:48:56 PM »

I think at that age, bringing the bullying child over to the bullied and having them apologize is enough, assuming this is normal kids stuff like hitting once or biting. Maybe let the parent know that "Junior will be having his favorite toy taken away" if you want to impress you're taking it seriously, such as if this is a family you have play dates with frequently and want to maintain a particularly good relationship with. Obviously removing the bully from the situation if the behavior continues, whether through a time out or leaving entirely, also seems reasonable.

I'm curious though what you consider bullying in a toddler. Repeated physical intimidation, like grabbing toys away? Bullying suggests malicious intent and at that age, some kids just don't know the rules for playing yet or may be more rough and tumble than other kids. But I am curious because my nephew seems like he "bullies" other kids when I've seen him interact at parties and such - being very controlling about who plays with what when and not caring if other kids get upset, but getting upset himself if they don't follow his "rules" - and I wonder how much is a personality thing and how much is him not interacting with other kids often.

Hmmmmm

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 12:50:01 PM »
In my opinion parents of a bully should:
-discipline their child and try to take corrective actions to stop the behavior
-encourage their child to apologize for their bullying behavior
-keep closer tabs on child to try and stop future bullying
-If the bully is targeting one specific child, I would even suggest a discussion with the target's parents to let them know you are aware of the behavior and working to stop the behavior and apoligize for any hurt that their child has incurred.

dawbs

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 01:01:07 PM »
well, I'm having trouble attaching the label 'bully' to a toddler (and I do think this sort of over-use of the word cheapens it and makes it harder for people being bullied to get appropriate attention and help).

Some children (and adults) are naturally 'take charge' and 'leader'.  Some are naturally'follower'.   Neither of those is a problem, but parental intervention when 'leader' changes to 'bossy/obnoxious' is key and subtle and depends a lot on the nuance of the situation.
If you (general you) know that your kid has a tendency to be bossy and possessive, forgets about 'gentle hands' and will throw a fit, then you watch interactions closely (ready to intervene), you have an escape plan in place ("since Jr. is unable to behave himself, we'll be leaving now--this is why we drove separately"), and you have consequences in place (a plan for the punishment and the resources for the punishment)

TootsNYC

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 01:08:24 PM »
At *toddler* age, I think a parent's obligation is to simply be seen to coach your child out of being a bully. (I have a touch of dawbs' reaction as well--*all* toddlers are bullies in a way. I've met toddlers or post-toddlers who are on the verge of being bullies, though.)

When a kid is older and might be a true bully, then there might be a stronger need to communicate to other parents about your intent to teach your kid.

Knitterly

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 01:13:30 PM »

I think at that age, bringing the bullying child over to the bullied and having them apologize is enough, assuming this is normal kids stuff like hitting once or biting. Maybe let the parent know that "Junior will be having his favorite toy taken away" if you want to impress you're taking it seriously, such as if this is a family you have play dates with frequently and want to maintain a particularly good relationship with. Obviously removing the bully from the situation if the behavior continues, whether through a time out or leaving entirely, also seems reasonable.

I'm curious though what you consider bullying in a toddler. Repeated physical intimidation, like grabbing toys away? Bullying suggests malicious intent and at that age, some kids just don't know the rules for playing yet or may be more rough and tumble than other kids. But I am curious because my nephew seems like he "bullies" other kids when I've seen him interact at parties and such - being very controlling about who plays with what when and not caring if other kids get upset, but getting upset himself if they don't follow his "rules" - and I wonder how much is a personality thing and how much is him not interacting with other kids often.

I am the parent of the toddler in question. :(

*sigh*

 :-[

Little Knit does not play well with others girls.  She's not 2 yet.  She really seems to dislike girls who are around her age group.  She doesn't usually hit little boys.

By bullying, I am referring to hitting - but not hitting in retaliation or because her personal space has been invaded.  I have literally seen her sitting on the floor playing, then looking up, randomly crossing the room and smacking another child (usually a girl) over the head (hard - and the look on her face makes me believe she intends to hurt) and then walk back and return to her play.

This always, 100% of the time, results in an immediate timeout.

If the child is older, they sometimes don't even notice they've been smacked (she's not very strong).  She can make younger kids cry.  She rarely does this with little boys - it's usually little girls.

And I'm not so much worried about how to deal with it with her (we're doing the best we can with immediate timeouts), but I am a little concerned about how to deal with the parent whose kid has been hit.

We went to a play centre yesterday and LK hit a one year old, knocked her over, and made her cry.  We left, but I felt really awful for the other little girl.  I also felt like a really bad parent.  I apologized to the other parent.  He didn't really acknowledge my apology, just gave me a sort of annoyed look and then looked away.  I'd been talking to another mom and hadn't seen LK approach the other child.

I keep super close tabs on LK when we are out playing and manage to catch her hand about 80%-ish of the time before it makes contact.

VorFemme

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 01:21:33 PM »
Time out - every time - get her to recognize that she may be upset but that she can't take it out on other, smaller children.

Which is pretty much what you're doing.

At her age (under two), it might be frustration at not having the WORDS yet to explain what she's feeling. 

She may have worked it out in her head that if she wants to leave, all she has to do is bop someone and her parents will take her home.  Time out at the other location (strap her in stroller, hold her, or otherwise let her get really bored for five minutes) and she may learn to say "tired, go home" or just "home now" instead.
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Bexx27

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2013, 01:29:12 PM »
I agree with this

well, I'm having trouble attaching the label 'bully' to a toddler (and I do think this sort of over-use of the word cheapens it and makes it harder for people being bullied to get appropriate attention and help).

and this.


Bullying suggests malicious intent and at that age, some kids just don't know the rules for playing yet or may be more rough and tumble than other kids.

"Bully" is not an appropriate term to use for a toddler. Toddlers lack the cognitive capacity, empathy, and social/moral understanding to be bullies. They may be aggressive or impulsive, but they're not actually trying to hurt anyone; they're just trying to get what they want (e.g., a toy, attention, control). In most cases, toddler aggression is a phase that will pass as the child develops social skills and self-control.

I agree with Hmmmmm as to what the parents of a bully are obligated to do.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

TootsNYC

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2013, 01:38:40 PM »
She's not 2 yet, so she *will* grow out of this.

But I also wonder if it might help her if you actually made her feel just what her "victims" feel. the world is full of stories of biters who didn't quit biting until *after* someone bit them in return, so that they realized exactly how much it *did* hurt.

Then again, she's not 2 yet, so maybe it wouldn't make a big impact.

Also, you need a bigger "club" than a time-out, perhaps. What would make her cry? Because I think that's the trigger when dealing with intransigent behaviors. Find something that will make her cry. And cry *hard*, not some wimpy "I'm a little unhappy" reaction.

Like, allow (maybe even encourage) her to bring a toy. And tell her, "If you hit anyone, I will throw your toy in the garbage." And then do it. (Consider it a fine, just like having to pay $350 to get your car back if you park in the wrong space.) I knew a mom who said she would make her own kid throw his toy in the garbage.

Because if she's holding onto this behavior, it's because the reward (whatever satisfaction she's getting out of it) is bigger than any negative consequences or punishments that have come her way.

Go for the BIG guns, and go there right away. Even if it really seems sort of mean. Because then you only have to be mean ONCE.

Good luck! (She will grow out of it.)

LadyL

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2013, 01:39:33 PM »
Little Knit does not play well with others girls.  She's not 2 yet.  She really seems to dislike girls who are around her age group.  She doesn't usually hit little boys.

By bullying, I am referring to hitting - but not hitting in retaliation or because her personal space has been invaded.  I have literally seen her sitting on the floor playing, then looking up, randomly crossing the room and smacking another child (usually a girl) over the head (hard - and the look on her face makes me believe she intends to hurt) and then walk back and return to her play.

Are these kids she's had previous interactions with, or is it totally random? My first thought is that this is a dominance/competitive/jealousy/attention seeking kind of thing. For example, if as an only child she is used to being the center of attention - "What a cute dress that is! Look at the precious bow in your hair!" etc. and she sees someone else getting that attention, it may bother her. Kids that age are totally ego-centric and the idea that she can co-exist with other people similar to her (who may draw attention away from her at times) may be very frustrating.

I see something similar with my nephew - his mom stays at home with him and has always been very hands on. He does not have much experience playing quietly by himself because he has always had a parent available to play with him.  After his sister was born he expected the same level of attention. He would get upset if his mother suggested he finish a puzzle by himself or otherwise play alone. He has trouble playing with other kids because he's used to making the "rules" and having his mother go along with it. He will yell and get upset at her or other kids if they break his "rules" even if those rules are random and exist only in his head. He is too young to know that his rules are not actually the rules of the universe :).

TootsNYC

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2013, 01:43:26 PM »
She may also want that child's attention; they may appeal to her a lot. And the only way she knows to have some sort of impact on them is to hit them.

Or she may suddenly think, "that kid looks like she's/he's having fun. I'm not really having much fun. I want to have fun. She's got my fun."

Not that it's acceptable, etc., but just to say that the minds of "not quite 2"-y-o's are strange things indeed.

And so, focus only on the behavior and not the "why," and it'll fix itself, I believe.

Good luck!

cicero

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2013, 01:58:56 PM »

I think at that age, bringing the bullying child over to the bullied and having them apologize is enough, assuming this is normal kids stuff like hitting once or biting. Maybe let the parent know that "Junior will be having his favorite toy taken away" if you want to impress you're taking it seriously, such as if this is a family you have play dates with frequently and want to maintain a particularly good relationship with. Obviously removing the bully from the situation if the behavior continues, whether through a time out or leaving entirely, also seems reasonable.

I'm curious though what you consider bullying in a toddler. Repeated physical intimidation, like grabbing toys away? Bullying suggests malicious intent and at that age, some kids just don't know the rules for playing yet or may be more rough and tumble than other kids. But I am curious because my nephew seems like he "bullies" other kids when I've seen him interact at parties and such - being very controlling about who plays with what when and not caring if other kids get upset, but getting upset himself if they don't follow his "rules" - and I wonder how much is a personality thing and how much is him not interacting with other kids often.

I am the parent of the toddler in question. :(

*sigh*

 :-[

Little Knit does not play well with others girls.  She's not 2 yet.  She really seems to dislike girls who are around her age group.  She doesn't usually hit little boys.

By bullying, I am referring to hitting - but not hitting in retaliation or because her personal space has been invaded.  I have literally seen her sitting on the floor playing, then looking up, randomly crossing the room and smacking another child (usually a girl) over the head (hard - and the look on her face makes me believe she intends to hurt) and then walk back and return to her play.

This always, 100% of the time, results in an immediate timeout.

If the child is older, they sometimes don't even notice they've been smacked (she's not very strong).  She can make younger kids cry.  She rarely does this with little boys - it's usually little girls.

And I'm not so much worried about how to deal with it with her (we're doing the best we can with immediate timeouts), but I am a little concerned about how to deal with the parent whose kid has been hit.

We went to a play centre yesterday and LK hit a one year old, knocked her over, and made her cry.  We left, but I felt really awful for the other little girl.  I also felt like a really bad parent.  I apologized to the other parent.  He didn't really acknowledge my apology, just gave me a sort of annoyed look and then looked away.  I'd been talking to another mom and hadn't seen LK approach the other child.

I keep super close tabs on LK when we are out playing and manage to catch her hand about 80%-ish of the time before it makes contact.
it sounds like you are handling it ok. I see you remove your LK from the situation immeidately - which is good. do you have her apologize to the other child?

THe other parent was annoyed because his child was hurt! saying "i'm sorry" doesn't take away the fact that *his* child got hurt. But you can't fix that - there will be parents who will say "don't worry about it" and there will be parents who will be annoyed.


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Knitterly

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2013, 02:01:20 PM »
Thanks to everyone for the advice on dealing with LK.

That's not what I am looking for, though.

What is my social obligation to the parents of the *other* child?

Let's pretend that it's not LK.  Let's pretend that it's Little Joey down the street who hit Little Timmy.  Joey and Timmy are at a playground.  They are both, let's say, 2 (because let's face it, 2 is a common age for this sort of thing).

Timmy and Joey were not playing together.  Timmy was by the water table, Joey was by the big rocking cars.  Joey suddenly stops playing with the cars, walks over and smacks Timmy over the head, and then walks back to the cars, leaving Timmy confused and crying.

Joey's and Timmy's mothers were both there.  What is Joey's mother's obligation to Timmy's mother?

What should she say or do?  Not in terms of dealing with her own child.  Let's assume Joey's mother grabbed him immediately and pulled him over to the benches for a timeout.
But what should Joey's mother say to Timmy's mother?

What interaction should there be between the parents or caregivers in a case like this?

Thanks.

Circero - I try get her to apologize, but she either won't or can't right now.  I suspect can't.  Even if she said the words "I sawwy", she would just be saying them and not really understanding what they mean yet, so for now it's up to me to apologize on her behalf.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 02:03:47 PM by Knitterly »

amylouky

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2013, 02:08:41 PM »
I don't think anything beyond an, "I'm so sorry, is he okay?" and them seeing that you are dealing with the situation by disciplining your child is necessary.
Especially at the toddler age.

cwm

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Re: The obligation of parents of a bully?
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2013, 02:10:01 PM »
I think, in that situation an apology is fine. You're disciplining your child, which the other parent can see, and if you acknowledge the behavior and apologize for it then that's all you CAN do at that point. It would be different if you were letting LK do it and pretending it didn't happen, but I think that a basc apology and immediate discipline are all that can be expected of you in that situation.

Now if it were a massive smack and the other child got actually injured, there would need to be another conversation about various other things, but if it's just making another child cry, an apology is sufficient. Yes, you are her parent and technically "in charge" of her, but at the same time, she's her own person at that age and you can't stand over her shoulder and force her to behave how you want. Most other parents recognize this, especially if they have other children the same age.