During the early years of childhood, it is often inevitable that parents will have to deal with the occasional tantrum or generally stubborn behavior.

It is common for children to get in fights with their siblings over toys or teasing and playground fights can sometimes occur between friends if their emotions get the best of them.

However, it is important to distinguish if this type of play or behavior could be something more dangerous to themselves or others: bullying.


Bullying or rough play?

Rough play is a natural part of the growth of a child. Though it shouldn’t necessarily be encouraged, this type of play allows children to experience different ways of dealing with people as well as different emotions.

Depending on the age, some children may have yet to understand the consequences of their actions; they simply listen to their emotions without recognizing what is socially acceptable behavior. In other words, these children are not bullying because they have no malicious intent.


Bullying is intentional

However, when children begin to become more self-aware, inappropriate behavior may sometimes be done with the intent of hurting others.

To distinguish between rough play and bullying, characteristics of bullying can include:

  • Indifference in hurting others

  • Needing to be in control all the time

  • Repeated and targeted hurtful actions to a specific child

  • Name-calling

  • Frightening other children

Some of these behaviors can occur simply because the children have yet to learn how to properly express themselves as their communication skills are still developing. Thus, some of these behaviors can occur without it being bullying which makes it hard to distinguish.

As parents it’s necessary to teach children early the right way to play. It’s important to let children express themselves but when it’s done at the expense of others then steps should be made to properly discipline your child.