by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
So my daughter is in love with the Berenstain Bears right now. And I happen to love that. Each story tackles a challenge that kids face and usually offers sound advice and moral lessons. Don’t eat too much junk food! Do chores around the house! Learn to compromise with friends! Don’t brag about yourself all the time! Take turns! Clean up after yourself!
I mean, really, who doesn’t love these books?
And then I read how the Berenstain Bears tackled the bully issue.
So in this episode, Sister Bear is the one that gets beaten up by a bully. (Nice twist, huh?) Brother is so pissed off about it that he marches down to the playground to knock this kid’s lights out–only to find out that the bully is a girl. Then, he decides that he can’t punch a girl. Why?
“Because then he’d be a bully, too.”
So, the first lesson is that if boys hit girls, they’re bullies.
… Which begs the question: What are boys if they hit other boys? Just boys? The old “boys will be boys” line?
So Brother stalks away, his masculinity deflated, disappointed and frustrated that he can’t hit a girl.
I’ll summarize the rest of the story: Brother Bear then goes to the school’s gym teacher, who then gives him boxing gloves (not kidding). Then, Brother Bear goes back home and teaches Sister Bear self-defense in the basement of the Bear Tree House. All of this happens unbeknownst to Mama and Papa Bear, whose advice isn’t much better.
“Just avoid the bully as much as possible,” they say.
However, when Sister Bear is inevitably confronted by the bully on the school playground, she indeed punches the bully right in the face (not kidding).
Both Bears are sent to the principal’s office. The bully cries as they wait to be disciplined, and Sister has a revelation that this kid is probably hit by her parents.
Resolution: Sister gets off with a warning. The bully gets a week of no recess–and they don’t tell her parents.
Two weeks ago, I heard my husband tell our daughter, “If he pushes you, I want you to say ‘Don’t push me!”
It seemed weird to be having this talk with a 2 1/2 year-old child. But I guess this is when these conversations need to start?
I’m the first to admit that I don’t have clear advice or strategies to share with my daughter about how to deal with bullying. Is it good advice to tell her to push back?
One thing I do know: I cringe at the thought of telling her to just avoid a bully.
So what options remain? Should I tell her to tell the teacher? But then, I also want her to know that she has agency to solve her own problems.
But then, she’s two.
What do/did you tell your two-year-old?