Bullying or is it just a fight?
Preschool going children are energetic and impulsive. They have spur-of-the-moment friendship squabbles during a sand play or kitchen play. Something like “That’s mine!”, “I saw it first!”, “I win, you lose.” during play that occasionally gets out of hand. Such play-related conflict is not dangerous. It is through these experiences, kids become stronger to stand in a group, accept defeat and learn to forgive.
Bullying, on the other hand, does the exact opposite. It uses verbal and physical attack as fun. A bully might snatch the toy away and tell the other child that she'll beat him/her if he/she tries to take it back The red flag is when the bully child seems to enjoy threatening, insulting, embarrassing or attacking other kids.
Being put-down, name-calling, pushed around, and shunned is not acceptable at any age. It steadily weakens kids' self-esteem; whether it's physical or emotional, it can cause hurt feelings, fear, and anxiety.
The reasons kids bully vary
• Often kids imitate behavior learned from experiences in the home; from a parent, sibling or peer.
• Some kids do it to get attention, either from adults or peers.
• Bad behavior can spark from the "good" kid, too. As my friend was telling me, her 3-year-old girl, Annie, was teased by a boy in her nursery class. The boy recruited a few more girls and boys to collectively chant “Annie Nannie, Annie Nannie, Annie Nannie” until Annie got angry and hit the boy and got caught by her teacher.
• Sometimes it can be for more complex reasons. When a child bullies because it makes him feel good to see signs of injury, fear or misery in his victim, the issue is much more concerning. That type of bullying needs a serious call to action.