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Bullying is GOOD for Kids

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Guest blogger Mom De Plume: Is a schoolyard bully necessarily a bad thing?


My daughter is in preschool and doing very well. She gets along with other kids and has even cultivated a "best friend" who I'm told she pals around with much of the day. I am so happy with the school and the teachers.

Recently one of the teachers pulled me aside and told me there was one child in the class who was hitting and biting the other kids. "Has he hit my daughter?" I asked, concerned. "Yes, a couple times today" she said. "He hits all the kids." All the time. He's becoming a problem.  My first instinct was to be upset, I glared at the little tow-headed culprit across the room. He was playing blocks on the floor. He looked harmless enough.

I looked back at my daughter and asked her what she did when that boy hit her. Did she cry? "No I didn't!" she said bravely. "I said NO I don't like that!" she demonstrated, holding her tiny little hand in a "stop" position.

Looked good to me. Like she was handling herself just fine. Way better than I handled stuff like that when I was I kid. I was always a wreck -- kids picked on me constantly and I was quick with the tears. Could it be that a preschool bully could benefit my child?

I've always noticed my friends who routinely got beat up by their older siblings were the scrappiest. One woman I know has five older brothers. She doesn't take sh*t from anyone. Unfortunately, my daughter won't benefit from any sibling rivalry, being an only child.

The other day the preschool teacher told me the little tough guy was going to another school. It seems the school had enough of the kid's aggressive behavior and he had been essentially expelled.  When I heard the news, I have to admit I was just a little bit sad. I want her to learn to stand up to people -- but what if there's no one around to stand up to?

Do you think a LITTLE bit of bullying is good for a kid?

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25 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 17, 2008, 11:41 AM


Janice November 17, 2008, 12:09 PM

Remember that song A Boy Named Sue? It worked for that guy.

aimee November 17, 2008, 12:33 PM

No, I don’t think bullying is good for a child. My daughter was harassed and choked on the bus when she was in prekindergarten. She knows how to handle herself, but seriously, should she be put in that position at such a young age?

Anonymous November 17, 2008, 12:38 PM

I do not agree with this at all. As a parent of children that are being bullied now, I disagree. My daughter who is only in 6th grade is being picked on by a boy in the 9th grade. That is just plain wrong…. It is teaching her to be affraid of school. How can that be good ????

Angela November 17, 2008, 12:42 PM

Bullying is terrible! Heck, thanks to evil schoolmates, I went through my school years thinking I was “lower” than everyone else because 1 or 2 people took time out of their day to make me feel that way.

Some people DO become tough as nails due to being hurt, others go the other direction. There are positive ways to work on your childs self-esteem that doesn’t include being bullied.

Sherry November 17, 2008, 12:58 PM

I think I understand what you’re getting at but I don’t think bullying is the way for kids to learn how to stand up for themselves. I feel that parents, extended family, and friends who build confidence are better, positive ways to do it - bullying might toughen some people up but at what cost?

Bullying just ends up destroying too many people.

JoAnn November 17, 2008, 1:08 PM

Absolutely not!

Bullying should not be tolerated like it was in your daughter’s preschool. While it may look like it wasn’t tolerated since he was eventually expelled, it should have been dealt with instantly, the first time he hit someone not after he had been allowed to hit all of the kids in the class. By tolerating the bullying, the school has essentially taught him that he can hit other kids. If this trend continues as he ages, he very well could grow up to be an abuser of his wife and children.

Your daughter did an excellent job of standing up for herself. However, had the bullying continued or if others pick up and bully her throughout her life, she’ll may very well lose that strength. She may learn that her “no” and “stop” won’t be listened to anyway so why bother.

Children should learn that all people need to respect them and that they should respect all people. Bullying has no place in society and should not be tolerated at any level.

Peter November 17, 2008, 1:11 PM

I was bullied, and I didn’t stand up as much as I could have.

But I agree with this anyway! Having conflict grows one’s self, and makes you stronger. You may fail the first few times you are faced with conflict, but that only makes you want a good outcome even more.

A life is only destroyed by bullying if the person being bullied doesn’t ever stand up- either to the bully or conflicts later in life.

And if the person has their whole life destroyed by the bullying… then the problem isn’t the bully. That person has a problem with confidence, and the bully was the simply the first one to prey on it.

matthew November 17, 2008, 1:12 PM

This is the most moronic thing I’ve ever read.

You’re assuming firstly that it is possible for every kid to be able to stand up to every other kid. There are kids strong enough to beat the crap out of you no matter what you do to defend yourself. When an adult does it to another adult, it’s called Assault. We have laws against it for a reason.

You’re also assuming that the bully is acting alone. Bullying is often a group activity, and the idea of “learning to stand up to” a group of kids only makes sense to people who’ve watched too many martial arts movies. Again, in adult society we call it Assault. Why would the rules possibly be different for kids?

While you don’t state it explicitly, the logical endpoint of your argument would be for schools to allow bullying. As adults, it is our job to show children how they are supposed to behave. If we send the message that assaulting another human being is acceptable, then we deserve the violent society that we get.

The next time someone knocks you in the head on the way to work, just remember, it’s good for you!

Renae | Marketing 4 Realtors November 17, 2008, 1:26 PM

I understand completely what you are saying. As a mother of 6 however I strongly disagree. The entire premise is built on something that we are always told from the beginning not to do. Positive reinforcement goes a lot further than negetaive reinforcement, right? So, in light of that, bullying (which would be considered negative reinforcement) will ultimately do more harm than good.

Now, several of my children have already gone through dealing with bullies. When our oldest son started pre-school, someone in 3rd grade pulled his pants down on the school bus. He was mortified. On another ocassion when he was in 2nd grade, a girl pushed and hit him while walking home from the bus. He came in crying. When asked what happened, he explained and then said he didn’t do anything to stop her because “I’m not supposed to hit her because she’s a girl.” A BULLYING girl. Neither of those situations could possibly help his self-esteem.

Just as everyone else has already commented, there are only two things that can happen to a child as a result of bullying: they will toughen up or they will be beaten down. The ones that toughen up usually end up very aggressive themselves. They develope that “I’m not going to let anyone pick on me” attitude, which isn’t the same as self-esteem at all. The ones that are beaten down end up being stepped on most of their lives. Actually, a third scenario could also happen. The child could become someone who “goes along” just so that it “won’t be me” who gets picked on. In that case, they may “go along” for years to come, winding up in trouble and with serious moral conflicts going on inside their head - they know what’s right but can’t do it for fear of reprisals.

The best way to build your daughter’s self-esteem is, whenever a situation arises where there is a real bullying situation going on, you stand up for her. You let her know that you’re not just going to let someone invade her personal space. That you WILL be there to step in and that she can count on you. THAT will build her self-confidence more than anything else in the world.


Denise  November 17, 2008, 1:59 PM

Is a little bullying ok for a kid? What a stupid question! NO!

Denise  November 17, 2008, 2:40 PM

Is bullying ok for kids? Really what a dumb question and thing to say. Absolutely NOT!

Murchison November 17, 2008, 4:08 PM

From your daughter’s perspective she may have had an opportunity to stand up for herself, and if it worked for her than bravo. But the other kids in the class may not be so lucky. Also, the bully’s behavior should not be tolerated. If he were around to “train” the other kids how to assert themselves against the bully, what kind of values is he learning?

It’s sad but bully’s do seem to be a pervasive fact of life. Is it unavoidable? Bullying seems to happen at all ages, even to adulthood and it’s only self esteem that really can combat against it.

Rosalia November 17, 2008, 4:28 PM

As a mother of 3 bullying is never,never

mary November 17, 2008, 10:31 PM

Since a recent study showed that bullies actually get physical pleasure out of watching others experience physical pain, then NO, the idea that bullying is good for kids is just plain wrong. It’s not good for the bully and not good for the ‘victim’ either. Kids can learn to be assertive in other ways, they don’t need a bully to help them get there…

Anna November 18, 2008, 1:04 PM

Renae, I was a girl bully, I used to get mad because i was not treated like an equal, and most of the time boys would psychologically bully me causing me to go into a depression and really messing me up, but hitting me was a taboo. What is the difference, I was bigger and stronger then most of the guys in school and when i tried to pick a fight they would act all nobel. Hitting girls should only be considered wrong when hormones kick in and girls have boobs that weigh them down and boys get a surge of testosterone making them buff. Up til that point there is almost no difference between boys and girls. Call it femminist but I dont like that sort of attitude. I think that anyone with any self respect would not hit someone considerably weaker then themselves, therefore the same should appy to boys and girls, some girls are stronger then boys, sometimes, vise versa.

Beth November 19, 2008, 9:25 PM

Any amount of bullying is bad for anyone. It destroys self-esteem and confidence. It can emotionally scar anyone. When I was in 11th grade, a boy pulled up my skirt with a bunch of other students around. This did not help me learn to “stand up to people”, as the author suggests. In fact, I was completely humiliated. No one should have to tolerate being bullied.

Mimi November 20, 2008, 1:00 AM

Kids pick on kids. These situations are to be expected. The child that needs to stop hitting will soon get the message from his peers, teachers or parents. Behavior like this is not tolerated in schools. Children should learn to take up for themselves it’s call self esteem. It’s wrong for a child to bully. It’s wrong for a child not to protect themselves. Once they grow up there will be times as an adult they will need to protect themselves. A small dose of reality will not scar your child. We live in a world where we want to put our kids in a bubble and have someone take care of problems for us. That’s not reality, prepare your kids for other children’s bad behavior. There probably isn’t anything really extreme going on in an average school. Be aware if your child is in a school where this behavior is tolerated. That would be a bigger issue. Is the school generally safe? Adults that survive attacks are the ones that act to protect themselves and don’t freeze up. Learning young that some people are mean will only help prep your children for the real world. Good article and realistic.

William November 22, 2008, 8:06 PM

I guess a little bit of bulling is good for a child in a long term angle because with bullying a child’s personality becomes strong from within which help him/her later in life as this world is a cruel and challenging one

Sandy April 3, 2009, 4:06 PM

There is a difference between ‘being bullied’ and ‘having a confrontation with a bully’.

Your daughter had a confrontation. Kids who suffer from bullying aren’t going to be helped.

The bully had nothing to do with your daughter’s reaction…that was her personality and things that you’ve taught her.

Don’t thank to bully!

Thank the teacher for letting your daughter handle things on her own.

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