Boys being Boys or Bullying?

My son is a sensitive little sausage.
In the lead-up to starting kindy earlier this year, he declared he didn’t want to go to big school, thankyouverymuch.
Our Christmas holidays were tinged with doubt and dread.
We rallied round, propping him up with positivity.

And lo and behold, when he started school in February, he was actually… happy!
Not filled-to-the-brim bursting with happiness, but a sense of quiet contentment.
The first few weeks went by without a hitch.

But my bubble burst when he started crying in his sleep ten days ago.
Last Monday morning, I could sense his apprehension growing as the clock tick-tocked towards nine o’clock.
“I don’t feel too well. I think I should stay at home,” he pleaded.

‘Nerves,’ I thought. ‘It’s finally dawned on him that school’s the real deal and he wants out.’
It was a long walk to school that morning. Each step he took was laborious. He wouldn’t let go of my hand. At morning assembly, his teacher had to peel him off me, his tears as heavy as lead as they fell on my heart.

Next day, same story.
And the next…

And then, a few nights ago, it all came out, faltering at first, but then in a gush, like he needed to get it out.
Turns out four boys from Year 1 had been following him around the playground, teasing and taunting him.
“Teeny!” they kept calling him.
(Yes, read that first sentence I wrote. The emphasis is on ‘little’.)
He told them to stop it; that he didn’t like it. Several times.
But they pursued him every lunch break, day after day. Relentless. In a pack.

My heart crumbled.
And then my hackles stood on end. My mummy-instinct to protect my progeny revved up a few notches.
How dare they mess with my child? I was seething.
How can they gang up on a kid who is, let’s face it, half their size??
Bullies! Big. Mean. Bullies!

“Calm down,” said my husband. “Maybe these boys don’t realise the harm of their actions. Maybe it’s a case of ‘boys being boys’. Maybe C2 (our son) should speak up more forcefully and tell them that what they’re doing is wrong. Let him learn to fight his own battles. When he faces his fears and confronts them, it will boost his confidence.”

I didn’t listen.
I had a quiet word with his teacher.
She was shocked.
“We do not tolerate such behaviour at our school,” she stated.
And proceeded to take prompt action.
Those four boys have since then had a serious talking to.
They’ll know better than to tease another kid again.

Ever since, C2 has been sleeping right through the night, peace writ all over his mighty-mite nighty-night face.

But a little part of me wonders if I did the right thing. What if these boys’ punishment exceeded the crime… Do you think it was a case of “boys being boys”? Do younger kids know that they are being bullies? Should I have left my son to fight his own battles?


15 responses to “Boys being Boys or Bullying?

  1. I think you did absolutely the right thing. There is a difference between having a fight with another kid or even a solitary kid bullying your son – from a group of kids ganging up and heckling/bullying your son. There is little that even a super self assured person could do without the constant heckling affecting them. Just my $0.02

    But this is a really hard subject. My personal half baked thoughts: It is important to be aggressive in self defense, but also not let that tip over into offensive behavior. For what it is worth, a good martial arts teacher can teach this very well, because the core ethos of most martial arts is exactly this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny you should mention martial arts, Arun. I’m typing this reply as I wait outside my kids’ karate class. This is the second year they’re doing it and the sense of discipline and self-worth it instils in them is remarkable.


      • One thing to note is that Taekwondo or Judo or Jiujitsu is more of a contact sport and not just about technique. As such they are more fun to learn as well, and also “toughens” up kids a lot more. I say this from personal experience. Perhaps others may disagree – but getting hit (Taekwondo) or held or flipped (Judo/Jiujitsu) in a structured but safe and full contact sport – is very important. It gives an outlet for energy, teaches kids how to take a hit and take a bit of pain with the right attitude, and also increases self-confidence. Just learning techniques/katas is not enough in my opinion (but maybe I am making some assumptions about Karate as I don’t know much about that sport – only Taekwondo).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww little baby…Arjun too has gone through this bullying bit in the school bus, even in our building. I have intervened in both cases when things got out of hand. Sometimes kids do not realise what they are doing is incorrect, so someone needs to correct them. And that correction can only happen if elders (parents or teachers) are aware. SO i think more than your own son, you have probably helped the kids who were bullying Caleb.

    Arjun, even now is the shortest/tiniest kid in his class and he has been teased about his size ever since he was small. He doesn’t like it, although now it doesn’t bother him that he will be reduced to tears. So i guess as kids grow older they do get tougher and maybe then they become capable of “fighting their own battles.”

    Remember Alison as parents we are only as old as our eldest kid is. So this is as much our growing-up journey as it is theirs!

    Yeah and martial arts will be helpful. Pls enrol both your kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You did the right thing Alison. C is too young and quite frankly I don’t think the year 1 boys would ever have listened to him. Let the school deal with it for now, there’s loads of time to give C the tools to deal with bullies when he understands it a bit better. Bless, my heart breaks for him and you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you did the right thing. And the result was the best result really. They were doing the wrong thing and they needed to be corrected. That’s what being a child is like isn’t it i.e. being given limits? The best gift you can give to kids is to teach them to become good adults with a good moral compass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Lorraine, you got it right when you mentioned the good moral compass. More than being wealthy or famous or successful in the eyes of the world, I want my kids to be inherently good individuals who treat others with kindness and respect.


  5. Don’t ever second guess yourself, C is too little to fight back and a little help on his way up builds greater trust in you. I’ve always listened to my kids and stood up for them, its mommy instinct after all. !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cherie, at times like these, I wish Lols and you were here with me to have these conversations. You’re right about our kids trusting in us – I was surprised C didn’t tell me immediately.


  6. Of course you did the right thing. These bigger kids are probably the result of bullying when they were in kindy (for whatever reason) and now they have been shown that it’s not fair or acceptable to treat someone this way. If my son was the in the wrong, I would want to know – it’s a teaching moment. It wouldn’t be ok for adults to do that and it’s not ok for kids. C will be just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

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