Dealing with Playground bullies

I have read about playground bullies many times over on other mummies' blog and I know the time will soon come when I will have to deal with it.

I used to think I can quite calmly manage unruly behavior, but at times I think that maternal instinct to protect overcomes me.

This happened 2 weekends back at our condominiums's wading pool. There was only a girl who's about 4 years old and her father there. Her mother and grandfather were both sitting by the side of the pool watching her at play.

J decided instead of playing at the water playground, he wanted to also splash around the wading pool (which is definitely big enough for 6 to 7 kids). So we let him, and sat at the edge of the pool while he wade around.

This little girl, let's just call her "Pinky" (since she was wearing a pink wetsuit),  threw us a stare, turned to her father and said "I don't want them to play here. I was here first!"

The first thing that popped up in my mind was that her dad better say something now, or nasty things might just come out of my mouth. Good thing he did tell her that she must share. So all was good and I even encouraged the boy to say hello and play with Pinky.

Pinky obviously wasn't pleased that her father did nothing to chase us away so she came towards J and splashed water at him, right in his face.

I was quite certain it was a "go away" type of splash and not a "let's play" type of splash. J looked at me, and I just told him it's ok... encouraging him to go on and play.

Happily ... he walked further and further into the pool which in turned caused Pinky to be even more upset. This saw Pinky charging towards J, J inching backwards against the edge of the pool... and *Splash*... Pinky did the "go away" splash again!

Silently... I counted to 3... waited for both my son and Pinky's father to react. J stood where he was, looked at me... like waiting for me to tell him what he should do next. No apologies from the other adult, no reprimand came either.

I really wanted to give Pinky's dad a tongue lashing as I felt that ultimately, he should be responsible for  her behaviour. What irked me even more was her grandfather and mother saw what happened, but also chose to mind their own business.

Once again, I held my tongue (actually also because I don't perform well with confrontations). I told J (pretty loudly so all adults in the vicinity could hear me)...

 " Let's go darling. If people do not want to play with you, it is fine. I am sure there will be many others who will enjoy your company. When someone bullies you like what happened just now, either you walk away to stop the same thing from happening again, or you tell the person to go away!" 

Looking back now, I am not sure if I did the right thing. However, one thing for sure though is I wanted J to know that he should not subject himself to bullying.

He is not even two years old, and as much as I want him to fight his own battles, he doesn't know how to. And, for a boisterous boy, who wants his own way almost all the time when he's with us, yet not retaliate in that situation, I can say I am mighty proud of him. His teachers have often told me how J tell's his friends the need to share, and so it reinforces to me that we are definitely doing the right thing.

Would I have handled the situation differently? Maybe, maybe not.

At the end of the day, other kids' behaviour are the responsibility of their parents. Unless they caused grievous hurt to my son, I will not attempt to discipline them, but will address it with their parents. More importantly, I will always use the situation and explain to J what just happened and how he should react in future.

How about you? How would you react to playground bullies?