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Yesterday, I witnessed my lil’ girl being mean for the first time. It wasn’t pretty. I went to pick her from pre-school and, as always, I spent a couple of minutes watching her play through the classroom window. At first, she was fighting with a girl over a piece of paper and some crayons and it was apparent my daughter was losing that battle. She knew when to give up and walked away.

My daughter spotted a boy with a book and decided that she was going to focus her attentions on snatching his book away. She sat next to him, batted her eyelids, gave him her sweet look and then took his book away from him. Poor boy didn’t stand a chance. So, he gets up, walks towards her and tries to get some of his pride (and book) back – unfortunately for him, the teacher spots him and thinks he’s trying to snatch the book away from my lil’ girl. He gets into trouble and I am astonished that my lil’, sweet, adorable girl had a hand in that. I made sure the teacher knew what had happened, but it was too late.

My daughter spent most of her early toddler years being on the other side – other kids were mean to her and she never knew how to defend herself. We tried teaching her, but to no avail. Somehow though, over the past few months, she’s developed a strength I didn’t know she had and is now able to hold her own when fighting with other kids. She takes back what’s hers and tries to snatch what isn’t. So what now? Do I reverse my role and teach her to stand down? Or do I take pride that she can defend herself?

I guess being at school and interacting with other kids all the time teaches our kids to fight their own battles. We need to draw the line at some point, make sure they’re not turning into bullies. But, in every social circle, there are leaders and followers. Our lil’ ones are already finding out which of these they will become. All we can do is stand back, watch, and guide them.