How Do I Tell My Child’s Friend to Stop Picking on Him?

Combating one’s maternal impulses isn’t always a simple task, especially if your child is agitated.

Dear Playground Mom, I’m here to help.

When you observe your child being bullied, your Mama Bear instincts are activated in the most powerful way possible. That instinct is programmed in our Mom’s brains for good evolutionary reasons—to safeguard our vulnerable DNA-bearers. This older child tormenting our smaller one isn’t a saber-toothed tiger out to get them if we take a step back. After taking a long breath to calm down and avoiding a response that could get us in hot water in a civilized society, what should we do with this older child?

Child psychologists understand the many reasons a child may behave in this way, and none of them have anything to do with the child’s intent on hurting someone else. An individual might have neurological anomalies that make them more impulsive than other children, have difficulties comprehending social cues, or appear younger than their actual age and appearance. When I go back to all of this, I think more like a coach and less like a raging Mama Bear.

I’m giving my child the opportunity to observe and learn and impart knowledge to a youngster who is there in front of me. If I follow my first reaction, my child will likely see me doing something I don’t want her to do in the future. My child feels more secure and less upset when I maintain a calm demeanor in stressful situations.

It doesn’t matter how old the other child appears; they are still a child learning about the world around them. It’s important to avoid drawing the attention of other adults at the playground if you overlook their parents around first!

“I’m that kid’s mom (pointing to be clear), and it appears like she’s distraught after what just happened,” says the older child’s mother. The power of inquiry rather than rage, even if you’re sure your child has been harmed, is undeniable: In retrospect, I’m not sure I saw everything that happened. What transpired has caught my interest?”

This is the message you want to deliver: “Oh, I saw this happen, and when you say those things to other kids, they won’t want to play.” This is your Mom Jedi mind-trick at work. You can have more fun if you say pleasant things to each other.”

At the very least, you slow down the conversation and allow both youngsters to just pause and reflect on what they are saying. As soon as the more prominent child realizes you’re observing, they’ll skip away to give your younger youngster some peace.

Finding out that the other youngster wanted to play or have fun with your child but made a mistake is even more fulfilling. Providing a youngster with the opportunity to learn how to better communicate with their child may be a pleasant experience for both the child and the parent.

How to raise children is sometimes described as requiring a village. As parents, we have the opportunity to be the village that protects our child by treating the bullied child with the same respect that we would like our children to be treated.