When The Bully is Also A Friend

We've all seen it. The boy on the playground that seems to want to pick a fight with everyone while his mom is gabbing away with her friend and paying no attention. I've been known to just talk to kids I don't know that are trying to hit my kids and say things very loudly like, "No hitting please!" in the hopes that their mom will hear and do something. Oblivious moms at the playground are a big pet peeve of mine. But, what do you do when the little bully is also a friend? 

My son is four. He is not the agressive type. He is kind, and sweet, and usually makes good choices. But, he is also a boy. So, sometimes he is the type to grab a light saber and wack his sister in the legs with it. He hasn't quite grasped the concept that it's not OK to hit even when playing. But usually this type of behavior only comes out when he is in the comfort of his own home. 

I have never seen him hit a friend. 

Sure, there have been the occasional mock sword fights where I'm watching closely hoping that no one gets injured. And, there have been times when he has grabbed a toy back from a friend and they are wrestling for it for a minute because it is the most important toy in the world at that moment, but my son is usually not the agressor. 

I have a friend who's son is agressive. And, I'm not sure what to do. She has brought up the issue before. She has confided in me that it worries her. I try not to give too much advice because I really like her, and don't want to offend. But, his behavior can sometimes be off the charts. Like, running up and pushing my son down when my son isn't even looking. For no reason at all. He has knocked my son down when he doesn't even have the chance to look up and see what is about to happen. I don't want to sever the relationship with her, because she and I have become friends, but I'm not sure my boy is having that much fun with hers anymore. It seems every time they end of playing, my boy ends up crying. I try to tell myself he could use a little toughening up, but the truth is, I don't want my kid to be pushed around. 

In my house, we have a strict no hitting policy. They are immediately sent to time-out and it is the one aspect of motherhood I have been truly consistent on. I can't claim that in many areas, believe me. But, when my kids hit, they know it's serious. The look on my face, the tone of my voice, the level I raise my voice to (on the brink of losing it completely and yelling), I mean, there is no denying that they have done something bad. They don't get a warning. They are sent to time-out, and then there is always a serious talk after. And, I have to say, I think it works. My kids aren't perfect, but they don't hit. Except when they hit each other, of course.

Yet, this other mom doesn't seem to discipline quite the way I would. And, of course, that's her issue, not mine. That is, until my son gets involved. When I watch her after one of these episodes, it feels like she is scolding him for spilling his milk and not for hitting. Her tone doesn't change much, she does make him apologize, but then she lets it go. While my son is still bawling his eyes out. 

I have tried just being open an honest with a different friend before when a more serious incident occurred. And, it blew up in my face. So, I'm a little leery to say anything. Yet, I think this frustrated mama friend of mine could use some advice. When do you know when to give advice and when to let it go? 

I have found the mommy wars to be real. So, after three kids, I have learned to bite my tongue. A lot. It's not so much about having someone do things just like I would. In fact, it's more about minding my own business these days. What works for another mom, may not work for me. And, I recognize that, but do I only become friends with other parents who discipline just like I would? 

To me, bullying is a serious issue. And, when kids are four, especially little boys, there is a lot of agression that comes out naturally. But, four year olds are also at an age where they can understand reasoning and are able to understand right from wrong. So, how do you deal with a little bully that is also a friend?