5-year-old bullies???

I just had a heart-wrenching experience with some of my favorite people. We are blessed to have some amazing neighbors, with kids all in the same age range, and we enjoy sharing meals and playing together. My kids get along great with all of these kids, except when these two boys are together. There’s some dynamic that happens when these boys play, that makes them mean to the other kids. Anna and Eric were so excited to get to go to our neighbors for breakfast this morning, but the moment we walked in the door, those two boys said, “Hide from the Monsters!” and ran away. The whole time we were there my kids were excluded and called names.

The parents of those two boys were ALL OVER IT. They had repeated conversations with the boys, and talked to them about being nice and including my kids. It didn’t help one bit.

I need to be clear that either of these boys on their own are such sweet playmates with my kids. They are kind, inclusive, creative and fun. They genuinely like to be with my kids. But put the two of them together, and watch out. They’re not only this way to my kids, they’re like that with everyone.

So my question is this…

How am I supposed to react as a parent? Anna was pretty upset about the boys “being mean and not including me.” But once we got home, she claims she had a good time and she seems to have forgotten about it. I don’t want to project my own feelings on the situation if it’s really not bothering the kids that much.

There’s a fine line between letting the kids work it out amongst themselves, and wanting to protect my children from mean behavior.

Also, I’m conflicted about how to deal with these boys ~ on the one hand, I have to help Anna understand that if someone doesn’t want to play with her, she can’t make them. But on the other hand, we were invited guests… so she has the right to expect that he’ll be nice to her. I talked to the moms of both boys and expressed that I just don’t know how to deal with it. I was reassured that the boys are like this with all kids, not just mine. We talked about the balance between dealing with it as a parent and overreacting.

I think for this situation, all I can do is talk to my kids about the different group dynamics, and remind them that these boys are individually their friends. And maybe use it as an example of how not to treat people…

I don’t know, but I think I need to come up with some perspective so I can deal with these things in the future without getting so upset myself.

I’d appreciate any advice I can get!




Filed under Family

5 responses to “5-year-old bullies???

  1. Great story about parenting, it’s like a tango, and part therapist, yours and those around you. Does parenting teach patience?

  2. Bonnie

    It sounds like your Mama Bear is really healthy 😉 Mama Bears are instinctive, emotional and important but you are doing great at keeping her in check. I have found that responding to my Mama Bear rarely gets me the end result I want..but sometimes it does feel good in the moment. The key thing I noticed in the post is that the boy’s parents acknowleged the problem…I have been in a few situations where the parents ignored their child’s behavior…and we chose not to hang out for a while after words. But if their parents are correcting the behavior they will eventually outgrow it… in the mean time having Anna’s and Eric’s resilience be your guide might be the best path forward.
    P.S. I LOVE your and Dayl’s Blog…it is awesome!

  3. This really is an issue I need to find more information about, many thanks for the post.

  4. Well, I’d be upset. If they were overtly rude to your children, that’s simply not acceptable. And if they’re like that all the time (when the boys are together), and like that with everyone…if it was me, I would rethink if I would want to hang out with my kid in that situation anymore. But that’s just me.

    Without being there myself, I don’t really know what the atmosphere there was really like. Whenever children group together, there are likely to be at least small issues to deal with, it just sounds like these boys can be problematic. What really crosses the line? That will be different for every parent. I’m just very overprotective of my own daughter.

    • Thanks, Jeff. I agree that the line for every parents is going to be different, and I appreciate you for validating my feelings! I’m realizing that I have over-protection tendencies when it comes to my kids’ feelings. I let them get dirty and fall down and climb on things, but as soon as someone is being mean, I want to knock some heads around.
      The last thing I want to do, however, is make things worse by overreacting.
      For now, I’m not going to put my kids in situations where those two boys are the only kids around. When all the neighbor kids have played together, it hasn’t been an issue. I think part of the problem today is my kids expected to play with those boys (not an unrealistic expectation), and those boys reacted with meanness. Grrr.

      I think I need to find a way to not take it personally myself, and avoid being emotional about it.

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