It's tough to see your child being bullied. Puttachi ran home last evening, sad-eyed, saying that everybody in the playground was throwing things at her. This wasn't the first time - Puttachi has been bullied before, by the same set of kids. (6-year-olds, all) But this time, she was even sadder because one of them was her best friend K, a classmate from school who has moved into our apartment complex recently.
Me: What were they throwing at you? Are you hurt?
She: No, it was just those small colourful thermocol balls that you find at birthday parties. But everybody was throwing it only at me. I tried throwing some back, but everybody, Amma, was throwing it only at me. I told K to stop throwing, and come with me, but she didn't listen.
Like I said, she's been targeted before, but this time she was upset because her friend was there too.
One - I have no idea why she is bullied - she is usually lost in her own world. Perhaps that could be it - she doesn't actively join the other kids while playing. And she doesn't really care much for group dynamics - if everybody decides they should do one thing, Puttachi doesn't necessarily go along with them. I think she doesn't really care, and so she doesn't listen to the "gang-leader" among the kids. According to K's mom, this is what bothers the leader the most. And she instigates the others to target Puttachi.
Two - K is a very go-with-the-flow kind of kid. I can totally understand that she had't even realized that Puttachi was upset. K has obviously thought of it as a game and gone along with the others. But since Puttachi is an intensely empathetic kid, she expects others to understand her pain too, and that is obviously not possible. I've tried telling her not to expect it from others, but she doesn't quite get it yet.
So, she was walking around morosely. I told her that K probably was totally unaware that she was hurt, and asked if she wanted to call and tell K how she was feeling. She cheered up immediately... and called her. This is the conversation that ensued.
Puttachi: K, you were throwing things at me at the park today. I didn't like it a bit, and I felt very sad. Why did you do that?
K: But it was just a game.
Puttachi: But you were all throwing it at me, for me it wasn't funny.
K: I did not know.
Puttachi: I told you to stop throwing, and come play with me, why didn't you do it?
K: Did you? I did not hear you. Everybody was shouting. I'm sorry.
Puttachi: It's okay. Please don't do it again next time okay? I felt sad.
K: Ok I won't do it again.
Puttachi: Next time when everybody is throwing things at me, will you play with me?
Puttachi: Ok, bye, good night!
Puttachi felt much better after this conversation. But I later learnt that K was very upset about it. She called again after a while, and apologized again, the poor thing.
But I know this is not the end. Puttachi will be bullied again, and she'll be upset again. How do I handle it without getting involved, or how do I teach her to handle it?