Adults seem to have an easier time pointing fingers at child bullies than at adult bullies. There’s a notion that children are bullies by nature. Wrong. Adults often don’t realize that child bullying is learned from adults. Bullying attitudes are built into mainstream ideas about parenting. Don’t fall for them.
Bullies are paranoid and think that others are out to get them and so act aggressively to prevent harm to themselves. It’s like “prevent defense” in football, where players use aggression to prevent aggression.
Some parents bring the same kind of distrustful attitude to their parenting: Paranoia about being manipulated. When parents think their baby is out to get them, to manipulate them, to control them, they adopt the mindset of a bully. They ignore the baby’s communications about needs (for touch, movement, conversation, breast milk) because they attribute intentional power-plays to the baby. They view parenting as a power struggle — between the poor helpless parent and the all-powerful manipulating baby. Huh?! Yes, crazy thinking! But such distorted thinking is encouraged by other baby-paranoids and experts who encourage parent-against-baby attitudes.
Bullying is typically defined as unwanted aggressive behavior “that involves a real or perceived power imbalance” (from stopbullying.gov). Usually bullying is seen as an act of commission (taking action towards another person).
But the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary online says it is “A blustering browbeating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.” I would like to suggest that bullying can also an act of omission: A lack of expected or needed action toward one who is weaker.
And yes, I point to babies as the weaker party.
Instead of understanding that the very physical needs of babies are “built in” by evolution millions of years ago, too many adults minimize the needs of babies and want them to behave more like plants in the corner. When babies don’t act content with minimal attention based on the adults’ schedules, some adults adopt a bully mindset and begin a power struggle. Instead, the best course is to humbly give in to the needs of the baby from the beginning.