Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Son, The Bully

I went away for the weekend to a place where my son was around many children. We were in the suburbs, and we often found ourselves hanging out in the backyard. Being a city kid, my son has limited access to greenery so we take what we can get.

He quickly became obsessed with a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe; a toddler sized plastic car that had a door he could open and close himself. He would open the door, get into the car, and then close the door and move the steering wheel around for a few seconds. Then he would re-open the door, exit the car and repeat the process several times. He loved it.

He was having a ball; until the rightful owner of the car (an 18 month old boy) attempted to go for a ride. My son became frustrated. He thought the car was his! What was this other child doing trying to drive his car?

My son did not stand for this boy usurping ownership of the car. He promptly crawled up to the 18 month old, grabbed his hair and pulled it as hard as he could. I was horrified. I ran up to my child and exclaimed:

"Hey! What are you doing?! No! Stop that!" I removed him from the scene of the crime and comforted the other boy who, at this point, was screaming his tiny head off.

I felt terrible. Where did my son learn such rude behavior from? Certainly not from me. I had never seen him do something so blatantly mean to another child.

The other boy calmed down and the kids went on playing as usual. I was relieved. Until a three year old girl (the sister of the boy who my son just got finished torturing) approached the Cozy Coupe. The girl got into the car and began driving. My son was visibly displeased. He opened the door to the coupe, and pushed the little girl to the side using the force of his 22 lb body.

What was happening? My son was so fixated on this car that he was unwilling to let any other children use it, and it wasn't even his toy to begin with!

I could not believe my son's behavior. As much as I tried to intervene, he was behaving like a bully toward these children and I felt powerless to stop him.

I began to wonder if this is his true personality coming out. Images flashed through my mind of my boy five years from now on the playground, smacking a child in the face and running away and feeling no remorse in the process.

Is this who my son will become? I am going to observe him closely to see if this behavior resurfaces in other envrionments. If it does, I must find a way to stop it!


  1. Michael Thompson says with pre-verbal kids to shout "no!", which you did but also let them see you cry if you can. He is attached to you and won't want to upset you. He is still too young to feel empathy for other kids.

  2. You should write to Little Tikes and see if they would send you a Cozy Coupe or maybe a coupon!

    It was so funny when Zahava ran in and said "that blue boy hurt my baby!" I gave Ari the benefit of the doubt and said he didn't mean it.

  3. I wrote to Little Tikes upon your suggestion!

    Zahava was so cute; she actually still liked Ari after he pushed her forcibly. That is one enlightened three year old.

  4. Okay, I don't have any real experience, but I am going to share my opinion anyway. If you want to listen, okay. If not, you are probably right to ignore me! After saying that, this is what I think: yes, Ari needs to learn how to share but I don' think that is episode means he will become a bully. You are a loving and observant parent and a child becoming a bully has a multitude of causes. Many of which are just not present in your situation. Cheer up chum, Ari will be fine! Or not, but that is to be determined later. Ciao!

  5. You're right, he's not a bully in the real sense of the word. But you're right, Josina, he needs to learn how to share! That wasn't his toy!

    Oh Ari-Bear, Ari-Banana, he is a toddler now and I hear this stuff comes with the territory.

    Thank you for the kind words about my parenting :)

  6. Don't worry! It happens to all of us. I think what it is is that at this age, they don't even have the slightest idea of what ownership is. They think its all theirs. And even if/when they know (in a few years) they still don't like to share! Kids want to have something fun, and sharing has to be taught and almost bribed out of them!! Even adults have this feeling, but we know its socially wrong and insulting to others to be so greedy. Children have no concept of that.

  7. That's true, Cordy. Kids are much more impulsive about their expressing their wants and needs. Whereas, adults have to repress their desire to have instant gratification.

  8. I love the kind and thoughtful words of your readers. They sound right on. It's always so great to get opinions from others and get out of our own head. The real benefit of a blog.

  9. This is true, mom! Sometimes it is difficult to see things from another perspective when you are too much in your own head. It is advantageous when others can offer alternative points of view.


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