So your kid hurt my kid

Mama bear

Seldom is there more anger than when a mama bear’s cub gets injured. Should a fellow kindergartener toss out a few typical teases, she’ll be forever labeled as a Mean Girl by the other mama bears, for certain. A boy who shoves another boy is a terrible bully. A child who hits must be hit at home. A kid who bites has “something wrong” with them. What is normal childhood behaviour, and what is truly of concern?

I’m no expert, for certain, but I know that as adults, we tend to interpret situations we see our kids in through our own eyes. With that vision comes our years of experience, any baggage we have from when we were younger, and an understanding that social imbalances suck for everyone, of course. But the thing is, much of what we react over is normal kid stuff. Kids push. They tease. They’re mean. This is normal, and this is exactly why we parents, caregivers, and role models exist. We work to teach them that these aren’t ok behaviours, but we forget that despite them not being acceptable, they’re totally normal. The whole point of being a kid is that you don’t know what being a grown up is all about. Most grown ups don’t even seem to have a good grasp on it, so why do we expect so much from young kids?

I was speaking to some parents about an injury my son got at school this week. He and a kid (who, by the way, stands at least a foot taller than my son) in his kindergarten class had not been having a fun day together. There were a few verbal spats during the day, culminating in the other kid shoving my son, pretty hard. Hard enough that Mason’s forehead caught the corner of a door and the resulting black-and-blue goose-egg draws some pretty good stares.

Was it ok for the other (older, much bigger) kid to do that? Nope. Was I raging mad ready to tear a strip of him or his parents? Also nope.

My friends suggested I speak to his mother, who I see regularly dropping her son at school. They suggested I complain to the school, and have the kids monitored more appropriately in the school yard.

Yeah, no. The kid hurt my son, but it’s ok. It’s normal.

Kids are still developing coping skills for, well, everything. My son still melts down when I tell him he can’t have ice cream before bed, or when I suggest that maybe he should pee one more time before sleep so he doesn’t pee the bed again. He can’t cope with frustration yet, he’s only four. So sometimes feelings build up and explode out the only way he knows how: physically and verbally. And we walk him through the feelings, teach him how to appropriately cope, and we move on. I expect that others are the same, and I don’t go off the deep end when my kids are hurt by other kids. I walk them through that, too, and explain how we’re all just figuring out how to be people together on the earth.

I think that as parents, we’re hyper aware of bullying lately because it’s a great buzzword. If someone doesn’t agree, they’re a bully! If a kid steps out of line, they’re a bully! But our definitions are all mixed up and in our efforts to be more aware, we’re focusing on the wrong things. I wrote about that in another post you might want to read, too.

Look, we all want to protect our kids. But this crazy helicoptering, overprotective, bubble-wrapping, crazed-bear-parenting isn’t helping. We’re raising kids who can’t run in school yards for fear of accidents, kids who don’t know how to socialize properly, kids who don’t trust their own instincts, kids who have no moral compasses. Instead of teaching the skills they need, we’re eliminating the challenges, but the thing is, we can’t do that forever.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t stand for bullying, emotional or physical abuses from other kids. But my son is in kindergarten and I don’t think any of his classmate are sociopathic monsters. I think they’re little kids still learning how to be.

One day kids aren’t kids anymore, and what then?

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8 thoughts on “So your kid hurt my kid

  1. Love this! My son has autism, so there’s that on top of the regular kid stuff and we’ve gotten MANY a call where he pushed another child (not injured, just school policy to inform both parties). There was even one instance where in the heat of the moment he lost his head and bit another student…The child’s parents’ response? Boys will be boys! And I agree, is it okay? No, but it doesn’t mean a kid is a bad kid…it means they had a bad moment. My kid has also been on the receiving end where he got shoved or tackled and my response is the same…if it’s not done with malicious intent, it is NOT the end of the world!

  2. The whole point of being a kid is that you don’t know what being a grown up is all about. Most grown ups don’t even seem to have a good grasp on it, so why do we expect so much from young kids?

  3. I was just having this discussion with M’s teacher on Friday. She is shocked at how so many parents at our school are so quick to blame and blow their tops when one little kid hits or kicks or pushes another little kid. I don’t get it. M has come home and said A pushed him in the snow repeatedly and wouldn’t let him play with the other boys, or B was throwing things at him. Yep. They are 7 and 8 years old. They are finding out what’s ok and what’s not and learning how to interact in their little community. Do I run to the teacher? Of course not. I talk to M about how he felt, how he reacted, what might he do? And I accept that these are little kids doing normal little kid stuff. Other parents? Constantly in the principal’s office to complain about every perceived “injustice” to their child. Makes me sad for what these kids are and are not learning.

  4. I hate the misuse of the word Bully. When your child has actually been bullied, you will never misuse the word again.
    Every name call, hair pull, shove and pinch is not bullying. Usually it is just kids being assholes. It’s part of growing up. No it doesn’t make it right, but it happens and it is our job as parents to teach and guide them in how to deal with frustrations, and how to deal with having the name calling ect. done to them.
    A bully (usually) has a specific target, they take away that person’s power, they repeatedly attack daily.
    A bully takes a happy, confident, school loving kid and turns them into a sad, not confident, afraid to go to school child who tells you they don’t want to exist anymore.
    That is the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had my child say to me. Throwing around the word Bully for every infraction a child does to another person just belittles what my child and every other victim of bullying has gone through.

      1. I read that one to! I wish I had your way with words.
        It frustrates me so much when people come to me telling me that their kid is being bullied, when in actuality it was just a disagreement between 2 kids.

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