I'm not even sure if bullying is the right term, but there's a boy my DD sees regularly (I'm friends with his mom) who is constantly hitting, pushing, and yelling at her - he's even bitten her a few times. It's not usually enough to do any real damage (though he has left a bruise or two here and there), but it certainly bothers and upsets her, and sometimes genuinely scares her. He's the same age as her (nearly 2.5), and his mom does tell him to stop and/or use time outs etc., but it is ongoing nevertheless.
My DD is a pretty sensitive kid, and tends to respond to the aggression by crying and running to me. She is super social and I think it genuinely hurts her feelings when she wants to play with someone and is rejected so physically. I think this is a pretty normal reaction, but the boy's mother said DD's reaction is what is reinforcing his aggressive behavior. She has made comments about my DD needing to "toughen up" and learn to "fight back" rather than just crying about it. She has even suggested that I should enroll my DD in some kind of martial arts so that she can "build her confidence."
I often talk to my daughter about it, and tell her that if the boy is bothering her, tell him to stop, walk away, etc. But the bottom line is that she's TWO. If someone purposefully shoves her onto the ground or slaps her across the face, her immediate reaction is going to be to cry, not to try to respond calmly and rationally.
I don't really know how to handle this situation.... I don't feel like I should be teaching my 2-year-old to fight back. I have stopped putting them in 1-on-1 situations because it's a constant battle to keep him away from her. But even in group situations like parks and play centers, he often finds her and pushes her around or hits her.
Do I stop hanging out with them? Do I teach DD to "toughen up"? Is her response normal or should I really be working on her confidence? Help!