Bullying is a very emotional subject, so it is important to take all accusations seriously and never minimize someone’s experience. It is vital, though, to determine if the behavior was bullying or was just a child being rude or mean.
For example, a child says to another child “You’re so stupid” and this happens once, maybe twice. By definition, it is not considered bullying but yes, it is mean and can hurt the child, on the receiving end of it, emotionally.
Trudy Ludwig, author of “My Secret Bully” describes the difference in a child being rude or mean and showing bullying behaviors with easy to understand definitions.
Rude is a child inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. Mean is when a child purposefully says or does something to hurt someone once (maybe twice). Bullying involves intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power. Being familiar with these helps to give some guidance when addressing harmful behaviors and giving appropriate interventions.