tl;dr? see bold items...

We take my kid to a library reading every week and afterwards all the kids play with toys. He doesn't get a lot of social interaction with kids his age and can be a little shy.

My son is 1.5 years old and there is another kid who is about 3 (and resembles a fat Justin Guarini). My son has one toy he really likes to play with there which is a pickup truck. He almost always gets it right away, but then the 3 yr old comes over and rips it from his hands. The mom of the 3 year old sees this usually, but says nothing. My wife used to tell our son "it's ok you should share" but I don't feel like this is a good response.

My concerns with this approach are:

  1. He shouldn't share with a bully
  2. He got the toy first and has had it for MAYBE 30 seconds so he has the right to play with it for a little bit before giving it up
  3. This is encouraging him to not stand up for himself and possibly to be pushed around his whole life

She doesn't say this anymore, btw.

Today the 3 year old got the truck first, and after about 15 minutes, he set it down to play with another toy (but kinda within his reach still). My son walked up and grabbed it and ran to my wife with a big smile on his face. Note, he didn't take it out of the other childs hands at all, and the other kid was seemingly done with it. The other kid came up ripped it away again and set it back down to play with the other toy. My wife finally got upset and said something to the kid and the 3 year old's mom came up to her and said "well your son did steal it from my son".

The 3 year old's mom is now setting a precedence that

  1. It's the 3 year old's toy (by saying it was his and my kid stole it), but it's the libraries not his (see below)
  2. She obviously doesn't care to encourage good social behavior with her kid
  3. She has some social issues of her own

Funny thing was the kid started crying when they left because he had to leave the truck. He obviously has this mindset that the truck is his, and I'm sure the mom is part of the problem there. I couldn't help but to laugh a little ... just loud enough for the other mom to hear.

Note, my son has taken these encounters like a champ. Never shed a tear, I'm super proud of him for that. But I also don't want him thinking this is ok.

My questions are:

Does anyone have advice for dealing with a bully who doesn't share toys (even when he's done playing with them), who will rip toys from my sons arms, and who has a parent that seemingly encourage these anti-social (and downright mean) behaviors?

Are my concerns above correct/valid?

  • We have many Primarily Opinion Based questions (and answers) on this site, but they are not encouraged. If you could make this less of a rant and more of a parenting question ("Are my concerns above correct/valid?" is not a parenting question; it is a request for validation for an already held belief.) – anongoodnurse Feb 2 '18 at 5:16

Point 1: Concerns are always valid, but are sometimes unfounded.

Yours are both valid and founded. What I mean is, it is valid to be concerned for the social development of your child, and the impact that bullying can have on it. This shows caring and concern, and is a good thing, as it means you are probably a caring and concerned parent.

Point 2: Though mild, this is likely a "pre-bullying" behavior, if not outright bullying. The child is young enough for it to be easily corrected with some effort and attention, which seems to be the more troubling part - how the other parent handled it. Ignoring the problem is tacitly supporting the behavior by itself. This is definitely cause for concern, but given the circumstances, probably warrants more concern for the well-being of the 3-year-old than for your son.

Point 3:

What can be done:

Whatever you do will likely involve some risk or trade-off. I could be reading too much into it, but the other parent might not handle confrontation well, making it somewhat risky that it could escalate. From the behavior of your son, and how well he seems to take it, I think you can have a positive outcome without direct confrontation.

What I might try, is reinforcing your son's response with encouragement, and stating clearly how "That wasn't nice when he grabbed that out of your hand. It isn't okay for others to take our things or get in our space." (however you like to word such boundary statements).

Keep in mind this won't go unnoticed (intentionally). The other parent will either take the cue, and either properly redirect the child, keep their distance, or even leave; or, if she reacts poorly and aggressively, you have further options. Make your stand, assuming safety is not a concern, leave, and/or report it.

In any case, I say your concern is valid, but it does not appear to be strongly impacting your son in a negative way. Reinforce that resilience first, and handle the drama with the same resilience and confidence your son seems to be developing.

On the other hand, since your son is taking it so well, you could forget about it entirely at this point and invite him to come play. No reason to keep tabs on small offenses that should probably be blamed on the parent anyway.

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Walk over the other parent and be very nice and tell them what happened. Don't bring up the past times it happened, don't make her feel bad for messing up her job as a parent. Just stay focused on the moment and impartial. See what she does.

You may even want to ask her a few questions and get to know her. Parenting is tough. If she has issues or responds poorly then come back here and post again.

Your concerns are valid and a 3 year old VERY DEFINITELY needs rules and guidelines on their behavior.

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