Can 3 year olds be bullies?

For a few weeks now, Reid has been telling us that she doesn’t want to go to daycare. At first I put it down to whatever it was making her feel stressed about growing up and, since she hasn’t provided a reason, I’ve let it go. On Monday when she said again that she didn’t want to go to daycare, I asked her why. She didn’t answer but I pressed, asking if her daycare friends were being nice. She said they were. I asked if any of her daycare friends was being not nice. She named a little boy. He pulled her “braidses”, she said. Oh, the mama-angst that cause. Did you see me write that it’s been weeks that she hasn’t been keen on going to daycare? Of course, she never complained once she was *at* daycare or said anything in the evening. Mama-guilt is not rational. I limited myself to “I’ll talk to the teachers and you will need to go to daycare.”

I spoke with the teacher on duty when I dropped Reid off. The teacher said that the little guy in question is a “busy little kid” but that they hadn’t noticed any negative interactions between him and Reid. She said they’d keep a particular eye on them. When we were camping in August, a few times Dylan took a toy from Reid and she didn’t react at all. She is a pretty calm kid in this regard. That night another teacher told me that they’d changed the seating arrangements and Reid was no longer sitting next to the little guy.

Reid expressed no reservations about daycare on Tuesday morning. After gymnastics, I asked Reid how her day had been. She said that it had been a good day, that “even Boy X had had a good day!” Boy X isn’t his real name, X isn’t even his initial but he is only 3 and I don’t want to damage his reputation. He is new to the class, maybe even to daycare.

Still, I wonder, does it count as bullying when a 3 year old is acting to make another 3 year old not want to go to a shared place? I think maybe it is bullying, even when a 3 year old does it, but I don’t think labelling Boy X as a bully is right. I’m pretty sure that Reid would tell you that she was bullied, if she understood the concept though. Let’s label Boy X’s behaviour and not him. There is such a fine line between “boys will be boys” and  my daughter not wanting to go to daycare because of another child. (I hope that I’m not gender stereotyping.) If your child is or has been a Boy X, good luck to you. I imagine it is hard for you to figure out, too. If there is anything Reid and I can do to help change how he relates to her, please let me know. I’m sure he’s just as sweet as she is.

And if you know of a book that talks about bullying in a way that a 3 year old would understand, please let me know. Everything I saw seemed to be geared to grades 2 and above.

2 Responses to “Can 3 year olds be bullies?”

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