You might be reading this from either of the sides. Your kid is either a bully or he is being bullied. Both are equally worrisome. Bullies have existed ever since man walked on the face of the earth. Out of the first two sons of Adam, Cain was a bully. Wow! So, basically, bullies have a long standing. My last post (also my first on Toonymum) was about ‘Beauty and the Beast’, in which Gaston is a classic example of a bully. What is bullying anyway? My daughter was very fond of Doremon cartoon series which is quite a popular cartoon series among children. There is a character called Takeshi Goda aka Gian who is a sturdy guy. He easily gets angry and threatens neighborhood children especially the protagonist Nobita, of dire consequences if they don’t comply with his demands. He snatches away toys. He is a famous bully character and can serve as an example for children to identify a bully.
I never knew small kids can be awesome bullies until I became a mother. Like me, many of my friends who are mothers worry about bullying at schools and parks. Some of them have horrendous stories to tell. Children have friendship struggles and faces social cruelty at the hands of peers and schoolmates. At parks, you may have seen kids blocking the slide and allowing a discretionally chosen few. Or a kid threatening the one who ran faster than him to grab the swing. Or the big kid ostracizing some children from a group. It becomes very important to help our children identify what is bullying, how bad it is and what should be done to tackle it? Here is a short list of the famous bully cartoons.
Tom the he-cat: Tom is a blue/grey short-haired cat in the famous “Tom & Jerry” cartoon series. He sets traps, almost killing Jerry every time. But poor Jerry, who’s not so poor by the way, goes after Tom and digs ditches and bang pans on his head in a hippity-hoppity way.
Nelson muntz: Nelson is a student and a bully in Simpson series. He beats and terrorizes students and has a mocking laugh ‘Ha-Ha’. He has a dysfunctional family.
Bluto: Big Bluto of Popeye series is a bully who annoys Popeye and keeps on creating troubles for him until Popeye eats his can of spinach and beats him black and blue.
Kalia: Big, rotund and strong Kalia of ‘Chota Bheem’ series is one guy who has two accomplices ‘Dholu and Bholu’ whom he bullies as he pleases.
Lotso: Lotso’s looks can be deceiving. He looks warm but he is a dangerous guy who has an army of loyal minions. He rules and orders and threatens everyone who dares do against his wishes.
The children who are bully themselves are struggling with some problem that needs to be identified. Lotso of the Toy Story was once a good bear but he was once lost by his owner and by the time he found his way home he saw another bear had taken his place which devastated him and he turned bitter towards others.
There are many such toon characters Eric Cartman, Jimbo, Pete, the step sisters of Cinderella who are menacing. Most of these bully toons were once good guys in the storyline and at many occasions they exhibit good traits.
Children don’t speak about being bullied but it can affect them damagingly. The little chicken was ridiculed for running amok yelling ‘the sky is falling’. The bespectacled little chicken had lost confidence. Do you know in poultry farms there is always a bully hen who pecks out other hen’s feathers? The bully hen does not allow other hens to drink water or eat grains. To maintain the peace of the coop the bully hen is put in an isolated cage. The solution in human species is a bit more complex. We have to work on unseen enemies like anger, social-deprivation, empathy and low self-esteem. Often bullies are lonely children who themselves were bullied too.
Keep the communication open with your kids. Speak more and ask more about their school and friends. It’s a great idea to watch your kid’s favorite cartoon with him. You will always get leads to talk further on any topic, for example if you watch Latso of Toy Story harassing and threatening others you may ask your child about it. Is it right to bully like Latso? Does he/she know anyone who is like Latso? Never advise your child to do ‘tit for tat’ as it may spin off in violence. Ask him to take help from school staff and hang out with other friends. Tell him it is the bully who is bad and weak, and not him. Restore his confidence through games and activities where he can learn ‘we lose some, we win some’. Assure him you are always there. For me, the mantra of “Connect, Listen and Guide” works brilliantly as a parent. What Mr. Jumbo , mother of Dumbo ( the big ears elephant) did ? She spanked Smitty-the bully. Smitty and his gang make fun of little elephant Dumbo. He called Dumbo ‘Klutzy elephant’ which made Mrs. Jumbo lose her temper and she grabbed him as he tried to run away. Mrs. Jumbo had her own toonish way of protecting Dumbo from bullying. Mum I am sure you will deal with it differently after all you are not mum Mrs. Jumbo.