My 3 year old daughter is a very shy and laid back girl. She loves playing by herself and will not really care if she has got someone to play with her or not. I usually look around for playdates for her since she's an only child and I want her to get used to playing with other kids. My problem is that because of her passive personality, she does not try to defend herself at all when some other child hits her or takes her toys. She will simply ask me to step in or cry if they hurt her. I usually step in and figure out a way but I am afraid she will always depend on me to solve such issues and I cannot be around all the time.

Recently we went to a party and she was playing in the other room with all the kids. There was another 3-year-old who was continuously hitting her for no reason at all. My daughter simply cried and did not do anything at all although the other girl was half her size. After that, my daughter refused to play with anyone at all and spent the entire evening on my lap.

I have never felt so helpless and heartbroken as I did on that day. How do I help her? The bully's mother and I are in the same social group which meets once a month. Should I avoid taking my daughter along, or continue so that she gets used to such situations? Please help.

BTW I just found out that that girl's elder brother, who is 6 years old, is also a big bully. I have tried to communicate with their mother but the woman could be least interested. She says that kids will be kids and they have to learn these things on their own and if adults get involved in such "minor" things, it's just silly. Wonder how she would feel if her kids were at the receiving end?

  • 1
    Have you tried talking to the other parent? And have a good read of the other bullying questions here, as I think this is covered quite well.
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 18, 2013 at 11:42
  • Perhaps there are other kids being bullied by the same children. You could try to get these parents together to convinced the bully's mother that she is the one who should stop the bullying. Perhaps even encourage her to watch the documentary film "Bully" to convince her that bullying is no minor matter. Aug 22, 2013 at 8:13
  • @DaveClarke The spirit of your comment is well intentioned, and I agree on the effect it would have. But if a person was reasonable enough to agree to watch the video, they wouldn't be a bully to begin with. Such a suggestion would more likely incite anger and probably a tirade and exit than an effective rehabilitation.
    – monsto
    Aug 23, 2013 at 19:12
  • I'm curious what the result was here. I, like others I'm sure, I am interested in the outcome of the next social gathering. Please keep us up to date.
    – monsto
    Aug 25, 2013 at 16:19
  • Thank you all for the answers and comments.The gathering went well.The bullies stayed away from her and she played around with the other kids.I have the widest grin on my face as i write this.Its nice to interact with people about tough situations like this and this page did help me a lot.She has been invited to a birthday party at the eldest bully's home this weekend and the said mother has assured me she will keep her children in check.I have decided to send my daughter as i feel this way maybe the kids can get used to each other and who knows,they might end up being best friends.
    – user4680
    Aug 25, 2013 at 20:10

2 Answers 2


I hear a couple different things here, so I will approach them 1 at a time.

First, your girl...

News flash: ready? She's 3.

3 year olds don't know much about anything, let alone how to effectively defend themselves to a bully. So that's where parents come in. Most adults don't even know how to effectively handle a bully. She likely can't even remember what you've told her about what to do because it's based on concepts that are beyond her.

So at this point, I'd be less concerned about teaching her dependence upon mom to fix her problems than I would be about her general well being. As a father of 5, I've learned that even the crappy situations have to be prioritized. No, you don't want her to learn the wrong lessons, but her personal safety is more important. And at 3, you're not really teaching her much on dependence anyway.

Second, you're both dealing with bullies.

Read this then come back. I like my answer. The rest of my answer here will take into account the context of my answer in that thread mainly because I believe that it applies here.

See, bullies hold a special place in my heart because they are willfully misunderstood. And I take no small amount of pleasure in busting their groove by informing people that their take on bullies flies in the face of what they know to be true.

Most people's solutions to bullying involve either changing the target (themselves, whoever) to avoid inciting the wrath of the bully, OR some level of hope that they will see reason and an appeal to sensibility will work. In my experience, I have found these methods to be 100% ineffective.

In other words, you already know who you're dealing with and what her reaction will be -- The other mother is fully aware of the problem and has chosen to do nothing -- yet you hope that a plea for sanity will work; yet you hope, you're crossing your fingers, that the next soft appeal for a little sensetivity to your baby's feelings will work.

So here's another news flash and a little tough love: It won't work. Your daughter will wind up crying, you'll wind up crying out of frustration, the other mother won't care and nobody else will say anything. But I'll bet you already thought of this... willful misunderstanding.

(Side note here: she sounds exactly like the little 6th grade girl who justified her bullying of my 12 yo daughter "I'm just preparing you for what will be coming. There will always be someone older picking on you.")

To confront the mother...

I would advise that you don't worry about being nice. But that doesn't mean be a jerk either... just push nice down down down the list of priorities. If the mother is as generally adversarial as you describe, there will be sparks no matter how you approach it, so keep it simple, direct, free of expletives, but stern and solid. Yes, it will be difficult because as adults we're conditioned to 'get along' and I hear a lot of "getting along" from you in your post. It's very difficult to jump from that track into the oncoming traffic of "aggressive issue resolution".

Therefore, here's my attempt to give you a little energy towards dealing with it. You wondered how she would be if it was her kid on the receiving end? Well how about putting her on the receiving end...

"That's the Xth time in as many get-togethers that your child has done something to physically hurt my child. I'm asking you plainly: please make it stop. Or is it just OK to allow your kid to hurt the others.

It's a social group with a host. Take that opportunity to ask the host if it's ok with her. Ask the other parents right then and there. A public confrontation with a flash opinion poll. And you will see exactly who you're dealing with. (I mean this in several different ways and i'm curious what the results are.)

Be mentally prepared for attempts to deflect or derail. Verbal volley ball "well they're tired because you were late" kinda thing. Stay on target... because an idiot will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

"none of that has anything to do with your kid hurting mine and you refusing to do anything about it."

It's going to be a difficult scenario for you, but that's nothing that a little practice can't change. Practice the altercation. Consider eventualities. Practice reactions. Talk to yourself in the car (No really, do this. It's ok, laughing truckers don't matter). Allow it to make you angry. A parent's anger can be a force for good when channeled into defending their child.

Above all else, understand that you're not teaching your 3 yo much of anything with this interaction... you are teaching yourself how to defend your child when you believe they need it. Trust me, you won't regret it.

  • Please summarize the answer you linked.
    – user7643
    Dec 8, 2014 at 19:24

It's hard to give a definite solution. If you can subtly get on to the subject (maybe she'll bring it up) of this problem, perhaps advise your daughter to shout 'go away' when someone does something like that.

I did advise my son to do that, and admittedly he got a little carried away with it, but I found it better than not doing anything.

As for avoiding the situation - tricky, on the one hand she shouldn't be being bullied, she's too young for that crap. On the other hand, it's good that you can monitor it and try to help her deal with it. Obviously at school it'll be much harder to get a handle on things. So maybe it comes down to how much you think it's affecting her.

  • Thanks @Jim W. Shes off to a birthday party this weekend along with some children which include the bullying siblings. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. I have asked the mother who's hosting to keep an eye out since she will be the only adult present. The problem with my daughter is that she still does not understand fully when i ask her to tell the person hurting her to stop. Maybe she will pick up on my advice better when she knows mommy's not around.
    – user4680
    Aug 19, 2013 at 19:33

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