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Is your child a bully?

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With the notion that the world is reverting to the survival of the fittest mode, I heard someone said this recently. With this belief, therefore, one thinks that maybe the term “bully” should be labeled “old-fashioned” and out of use.

With physical or armed struggle to take possession of the little resources available and convert same to personal use; or how about the intellectual scheming to rubbish your neighbour so you can push him out in a fierce competition to bend people’s will? The word ‘bully’ sounds weak and inappropriate these days.

Who is a bully? According to some definition, a bully is a person who uses his strength or power to frighten those who are weaker. In the world of today, the bully would be the bomb thrower who attacks people who are not armed. But as we are well aware a bully remains a child who enjoys fighting or hurting other children. You may be raising one without knowing it. Your toddler may have the habit of hitting other children and you do nothing because you think that he would become friendly when he is older.

Recently, as I watched a scuffle between two tiny things, I did not think that it was funny at all. The two were girl children and none could say any word yet apart from “mummy.” One was slightly built, strong and looked experienced and battle-weary already. The other still had much of puppy fat and looked better-fed and indulged. She had a back-pack; she had just been brought back from nursery school when the other one descended on her with blows and slaps. One woman drew the other one away and all was quiet for a while. It was not long after that the attacker, like all bullies in the making, set upon her again until the girl cried and brought her mother to the scene. “Fight back”, the mother told her. “At your age, I was the one who did the beating, even boys feared me.”

We believed her; she looked strong and troublesome with flashing eyes. None of us doubted that she was the bully. But the mother of the little tigress did nothing and watched her daughter. Another occasion, I observed as one boy scratched and slapped another little boy. The one being beaten turned away for a time but the aggressor would not let him be, but when he retaliated and gave him gave him a few slaps, he cried; that was that was when his mother showed that she was aware of what was happening.

But do we encourage our children to be aggressive? I wondered. It was clear that the mothers of the two children thought that their children needed to be champions of the playground. But not this mother, however, whose son tried to bully out of the way a child of about two years. He already showed signs to be very big in size. As I looked at the young family-mother, father, son and baby daughter- the father stepped out and the boy wanted to follow; the mother knew his intention and blocked his way. Instead of crying, he touched the mother and said something in his still forming words.

The mother’s reaction was a smile, which conveyed a warning and a firm refusal. He repeated that same thing which he emphasized with a firm, commanding wave of the hand. In the end, I made out that he said, “get out.” He was squaring up for a scene when the father came back.

I saw a child who was in a rush to develop but his scarce words made it difficult to say that he wanted to meet his father. But some may continue to be aggressive beyond the first three years of age, if they are not taught that violence is wrong. If you have reports that your child is beating up other children without provocation, it is time to take it seriously; you are raising a bully. If at six years of age, she wants to kick children, she is doing it for fun because she knows that they cannot fight back. It is time to call her to order by teaching tolerance, for example.

Teach that a child who fights without cause would not have real friends. Tell him that he may have many people following and agreeing with him, but that they befriend him because they do not want to be on the wrong side of him. A bully is never happy because he feels alone. His ‘friends’ will leave him when there is a tougher and more powerful bully on the street or your area. A bully employs tactics such as gossip, exclusion and use of weapon to get what he wants.

What to Do?
Your parental style is important. Settle disagreements between you and their father gently so the children know that we can always work through issues without causing pain.

An insecure child wants to be reassured constantly. What makes him aggressive? Look for the cause. If he feels that other children do better than him, he will resort to attack as a way to be noticed.

Show more interest in his school activities; children love it when parents turn up in school just at that time they miss home. Go occasionally just to know how he is doing, not only when you are sent for.



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