Today my sweet boy had a moment that showed me how quickly bullying can start.
Let me start by saying this boy is the most thoughtful and kind child you'll meet.
Like all children this was a small mistake that happened in a moment... A moment of learning.
I was chatting and had one roving eye on my children when I spotted them.
My son and his friend paused for a moment and pointed at a child, they whispered to each other, laughed and went on to play.
The other child didn't see any of this.
This was that moment.
That first moment of unkindness... That first lesson.
It would have been so easy to think - 'Well they didn't do much!'
It would have been easy to think - 'Ah well, the other child didn't see' or 'My son didn't actually say anything to them.'
It would have been so easy to think - 'I'll say something next time.'
Sorry... but parenting is never about the easy option.
I called my son to me and sat him with me.
'I wonder' I began 'How you would feel if there were a couple of children who pointed at you, whispered to each other and then laughed?'
His face was blank.
'Erm... I'd be sad?' He asked, clearly confused. I don't even think he realised what he had done in that first moment.
He was just a child, possibly caught up in the moment.
Boys will be Boys, isn't that what they say?
...Well, not in our house!
'I just spotted you and your friend stop and point at that child, whisper to each other and then laugh and walk away'
I saw the realisation creep over his little face and I hugged him to me.
'I know you didn't realize, but it's REALLY important that you consider your actions'
I asked him what they had said, assuring him he wouldn't be in trouble no matter what it was.
'I said it looks like they're trying to get into that box'
They didn't say anything particularly unkind. Weren't calling the person names. Weren't picking at their appearance... But there is that age old saying "Actions speak louder than words."
'I'm really sorry I didn't think. We shouldn't comment on other people, should we?'
'No, we shouldn't'
It's such a small thing... But such a big moment.
Because my boy is not unkind, he's not a bully, he's not mean. He's a child who is being taught kindness... This is the MOST important lesson there is.
... And if we make sure to address these small moments, we can stop them escalating into bigger ones.