Is my child a bully, or just standing up for himself?

I expect that this post will ruffle a few feathers, but one of the reasons why I don’t post that often is because every time I sit to write something, I’ve been afraid to ruffle feathers or say the wrong thing. So baby steps for me in speaking up more.

When I studied for my Master qualifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) some years back, I considered myself the queen of the reframe. Reframing simply means looking at a situation and seeing alternate meanings to the events, just like when you put a different frame around a painting or picture, it can give the picture a whole different look.

Now I’m trying to use that reframing on myself and a situation that has arisen –┬átoday I received a call from the group leader of a playgroup I attended with Daniel 2 days ago, telling me that two of the mums in the group (who wanted to remain anonymous) had contacted her to express their concern over my childs’ behaviour with their children.

I don’t want to be one of these parents who, when told about some misdeed of their child, proclaim it couldn’t possibly have been their child because he/she is an angel at home. I could see that Daniel was being very forceful in his behaviour with the other children, trying to grab toys back when they came up to him to grab the toys he had, I saw him hit a couple of times because toys that he was playing with were being moved, not sure if there were other things, because the parents in question on the day didn’t actually speak to me then and there. Each time he did something that I saw, I got up and moved him out of the situation, to the point where I sat on the floor with him in an attempt to divert his attention to something more productive.

I don’t like it when I see Daniel behaving that way, but short of smacking him (which I don’t like at all) I’m not quite sure how to temper this behaviour in him. There are a number of things that have happened with Daniel over the 3 years of his life that I would have liked to be different (his eczema, being picky with his eating), but they are as they are and please tell me of a parent that has a perfect child that does everything the parent wishes & I’ll go and get some coaching from them to see what I can do better.

So I see two issues in this situation:

  1. As a parent, do you speak up at the time an issue is occurring?
  2. How do you manage your childs’ behaviour?

Parents speaking up

I’m upset that the parents in question didn’t come and say something to me at the time the “incident” happened. To me that is a little cowardly, because I can’t do anything about it after the fact (today for instance) – a discussion with a child about their behaviour needs to happen right when it’s happened – they don’t understand about past events – they are live in the now creatures (unlike us adults).

Basically, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Children with different temperaments behave differently

My understanding is that toddlers don’t like to share and shouldn’t be forced to because it can make them feel that others needs are more important than their own. Why do we then insist that children be put into situations where they have to share and then we get upset if they don’t do it well? Sharing will be learnt naturally as a child gets older, no need to force the situation. (And show me an adult that is happy about sharing their favourite possessions).

My child is amazingly polite and conversational with adults and older children – he says please and thankyou without being prompted or forced, he says hello to people when we are out and about and asks what their name is and tells them his name and how old he is and then proceeds to have a conversation with them, telling them what he is doing at the time – I haven’t seen any other child his age behave in this way in any group we’ve attended.

There are certain traits and behaviours I want to encourage in Daniel that will serve him well in his adult years. I want him to be self sufficient, so I provide all I can for him now during his early development years so he knows he has a safe base to come back to and then he can develop that trait in his own good time. I didn’t want to force him to be self sufficient before his time (as is advocated by some parenting experts) because I think this causes behavioural issues in later years from not having a safe supportive environment in early years.

I want him to be a free thinker, look outside the box, go after what he wants, be a trailblazer and hold his boundaries. I see him do things now that as a child, I don’t know that in my upbringing I would have been allowed to do that or say that, yet as an adult it would be something to be admired or coveted. I don’t want to stifle who he is and make him feel wrong. Do children that sit meekly and quietly become those trailblazers? In all honesty I can’t answer that question. But here is a question to ask yourself, does suppression of natural toddler behaviours now cause greater behavioural issues in later years that then require people to get some sort of psychological guidance?

Perhaps my childhood experiences of being teased at school has energetically impacted on Daniel such that he is going to be the opposite and not be a victim (and then passive aggressive like I know I can be with underhanded, snarky comments – all in an effort to protect myself from being hurt). Or maybe just as adults in social situations either get along with someone or feel a strong repulsion to them right from the first meeting, maybe children are like this too and Daniel is just picking up a vibe of suppression and political correctness in the room of children and mums that sets him off.

What do I do now?

Behaviour is so complex and impacted by so many different variables and now I need to decide whether to continue to go to a group where I’m not completely welcome (either through my opinions or my child’s’ behaviour) or just withdraw and continue on our way (just like I would put a delicate ornament out of the way of a baby/toddler/child to avoid the possibility of it being broken).

What do you think?


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About Helena

Helena is a stay at home Mum to one funny, intelligent and very curious little boy. Helena & her husband are working towards creating a location independent lifestyle that will enable their family to homeschool, travel and experience the world together.


  1. Well done for writing such an honest post about a situation that is very common but not always spoken about. You are certainly correct about a number of points. Having not been at the incident it is difficult to speculate but I do find it unfortunate the the mothers waited until later to talk about your childs behaviour. This to me is just ‘bitchy’ and completely unnessessary , especially if the issue had never been bought up before with yourself . As you said children need to be told about their questionable behaviour at the exact time that it is happening….not a few nights later. Briefly here are a few points I will add.
    1.Children do have different temperaments and this is very often forgotten by other parents (particularly those with only one child) 2. I do think we can help our children learn some basic skills such as sharing even at an early age, but be prepared for this to often result in a tug of war. We can then try to help our kids reach a compromise by finding another toy , or taking turns. But we can reprimand a child for ‘snatching’. 3. It sounds like your son has a great little personality, and you are right in not wanting to stifle that. 4. Sometimes our children (and their parents) also need to cope with all manner of personalities and situations. We cannot create perfectly happy scenarios for them to float about in all the time as this does nothing to promote their resilience and self-sufficiency 5. If you and your son enjoy the majority of the time you spend at playgroup then dont be bullied out of going, however if you are finding that it is causing you more distress then find something else to do with your son. Sorry for rambling on but I think it is such an important point you have raised. Best of luck

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