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Can Bullying Really Start on the Toddler Playground?

We have this neat play area at a local kid’s place that has a giant train and car table that kids can stand at and play together with the figures. We went there for the first time today and another child (I’m guessing he was four or five) was verbally bullying my three-year-old. He kept calling her stupid and telling her she couldn’t play because she didn’t know what she was doing.

I kept taking the gentle approach and suggesting he show her how to play because she’d never been to this play area before. He continued on and on, and started doing this to another girl. She took it really hard and ran away crying and yelling, “You’re mean!”

I didn’t realize it until we had walked away to look at something else that his dad was sitting there watching the entire time. I should’ve said something, but I didn’t. Now I’m kicking myself because I don’t think I did the right thing. However, I’d like to know how other moms would have handled this. I’m not a confrontational person by any means and I prefer to go the gentle route.

I have yet to unleash the supposed momma bear within me because my daughter hasn’t been physically abused and this child’s verbal abuse really didn’t seem to bother her. However I don’t want her to be bullied and be hurt by it. I was bullied a lot growing up. It ruined my self-esteem and I just don’t want that for her.

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