5-year-old bullies???

I just had a heart-wrenching experience with some of my favorite people. We are blessed to have some amazing neighbors, with kids all in the same age range, and we enjoy sharing meals and playing together. My kids get along great with all of these kids, except when these two boys are together. There’s some dynamic that happens when these boys play, that makes them mean to the other kids. Anna and Eric were so excited to get to go to our neighbors for breakfast this morning, but the moment we walked in the door, those two boys said, “Hide from the Monsters!” and ran away. The whole time we were there my kids were excluded and called names.

The parents of those two boys were ALL OVER IT. They had repeated conversations with the boys, and talked to them about being nice and including my kids. It didn’t help one bit.

I need to be clear that either of these boys on their own are such sweet playmates with my kids. They are kind, inclusive, creative and fun. They genuinely like to be with my kids. But put the two of them together, and watch out. They’re not only this way to my kids, they’re like that with everyone.

So my question is this…

How am I supposed to react as a parent? Anna was pretty upset about the boys “being mean and not including me.” But once we got home, she claims she had a good time and she seems to have forgotten about it. I don’t want to project my own feelings on the situation if it’s really not bothering the kids that much.

There’s a fine line between letting the kids work it out amongst themselves, and wanting to protect my children from mean behavior.

Also, I’m conflicted about how to deal with these boys ~ on the one hand, I have to help Anna understand that if someone doesn’t want to play with her, she can’t make them. But on the other hand, we were invited guests… so she has the right to expect that he’ll be nice to her. I talked to the moms of both boys and expressed that I just don’t know how to deal with it. I was reassured that the boys are like this with all kids, not just mine. We talked about the balance between dealing with it as a parent and overreacting.

I think for this situation, all I can do is talk to my kids about the different group dynamics, and remind them that these boys are individually their friends. And maybe use it as an example of how not to treat people…

I don’t know, but I think I need to come up with some perspective so I can deal with these things in the future without getting so upset myself.

I’d appreciate any advice I can get!



  1. Jeff Silvey April 10, 2011
    • Krista April 10, 2011
  2. Norris April 12, 2011
  3. Bonnie April 27, 2011
  4. vivalavivie May 1, 2011