There's no worse feeling than picking your kid up from the bus stop and hearing them explain between sniffles that they were getting bullied on the playground. While some may think this behavior is part of growing up, Mandi Castle, the mother of a 6-year-old girl, simply won't stand for it. And she has a message to other little girls: it's OK to stand up for yourself.
In a post in her personal blog, the mom explained how she didn't take her daughter's comments about getting picked on too seriously at first. "She tends to be dramatic, and by the time we got home, she said some boys were chasing her on the playground. I told her not to play with them anymore if they bugged her, and that was that. We went on with our day. Fast forward to dinner where she brought it up again."
After probing a bit, Castle got the full picture of what went on during recess. "She [said] that some boys were hitting her butt on the playground, and when she told them to stop, they called her chubby and laughed at her. When she told them to stop, they called her fat and made fun of her. Let that sink in for a second," she wrote.
It was her daughter's initial response to the incident that left the mom heartbroken. "She put her head down and said, 'Tomorrow, I'm just going to hide at recess.'" That's when things got serious.
The mom said that although she was totally overcome with emotion, she wanted to use it as a teaching moment, telling POPSUGAR:
"Initially, I saw red. Hearing my daughter tell me that boys were touching her bottom on the playground filled me with rage. The more I thought about it, I realized I needed to use this as a lesson, one where I empower her to take ownership of her body and defend herself against unwanted touching. I have brushed off unwanted touching from men my whole life, and in that moment, I wanted my daughter to understand she has every right to say no and to defend herself."
Her message to her daughter? Sometimes it's worth getting in trouble if it means you stop getting pushed around. Castle gave her daughter an important set of instructions: "If they do that tomorrow, you say, 'Keep your hands off of me.' If they don't stop, you tell the teacher. If they continue to bother you, you turn around and step on their feet, or kick them in the shins or their business, and if you get in trouble, go ahead and tell your teacher to give me a call.'"
Castle explained to POPSUGAR that her goal was to start a conversation. "As I wrote the post, I hoped to reach parents of both boys and girls to hopefully open up a dialogue about how to handle situations like this from both sides."