Can the leopard (or the bully) change his spots? - MetroFamily Magazine
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Can the leopard (or the bully) change his spots?

by Mari Farthing

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

It was the topic of discussion for weeks around the table. What if she’s in my class this year?

Who is this mysterious ‘she’ that we speak of? The girl who called my daughter ‘stupid.’

“She’s mean, mommy,” is what I was told. “She said I was stupid and she wouldn’t play with me.”
“When was this?” I asked.
“In kindergarten.”
“That was two years ago.”
She just looked at me because clearly, this did not matter to her. “She’s a bully, mom.”

Really? A bully? Not so fast. Kids, especially young kids, are learning every day how to navigate in the world and how they fit in the world. One day’s bully is the next day’s hero. We all make mistakes, and I know that my daughter, too, could have been tagged as the bully herself based on choices that she made.

“Do you remember when you were at the park and you were running, not watching where you were going, and ran right into that little boy?”
Thinking. “Yes.”
“I bet that little boy might think you’re a bully.”
“But I’m not!”
“No, you’re a nice girl who made a bad choice. So what does that tell you?” I asked.
“That I should watch where I’m going,” she said.
“Yes, and also that just because someone does something that isn’t nice, it doesn’t mean that person is a bully. Or just because someone makes a bad choice, it doesn’t mean that they can never make good choices. People change.”

Cut to a few days later, as we’re heading away from school.
“Guess what, mom!?”
“What?”
“She’s in my class this year. And we played together all through recess. And we sat next to each other at story time. And we were partners in PE.”

It’s not always so simple, but people really can change. What a great lesson for the first day of school

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