Luckily for Prince George of Cambridge, he has a lot of cousins to play with. One of those cousins is 7-year-old Savannah Phillips, the Queen of the United Kingdom's great-granddaughter. You might remember Phillips as the little girl playfully shushing a smirking Prince George at a royal function on Saturday. The cute moment went viral, and the picture is proof that Prince George has a fun rapport with his young relatives. But similarly to other kids his age, Prince George also fights with his cousins from time to time. And on Sunday, the public witnessed one of these moments when Phillips was caught on video pushing Prince George down a small hill at a polo match. Following the release of the video, some people called Prince George's cousin a bully — a sentiment that might be a bit overboard.
One of the most endearing things about Prince George is how playful he comes across. In photos and videos from royal events, Prince George is always smiling or looking mischievous. Prince George often reminds me of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, because they seem to share an appreciation for silliness and lighthearted fun. And on Sunday, Prince George's jokester ways were on full display as he repeatedly attempted to sit on Phillips' lap at the polo match. At some point, however, Phillips got fed up with Prince George's antics, and she pushed him down a small hill in retaliation.
In video footage of the moment, a shocked Prince George slides down the hill as he struggles to regain his balance. Although Prince George didn't sustain any visible injuries from the fall, he lost hold of his little drawing mid-tumble. Poor guy.
Immediately following the push, Phillips' mom, Autumn Phillips, appeared to scold her daughter. As for Prince George's mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, she was later spotted consoling her tearful son. All in all, it sounds like the royals had a very typical playdate. What parents haven't dealt with a little fight between two friends during a day at the playground or what have you? It happens.
Other people, however, think there's something more sinister afoot about the push. In fact, some people think Phillips is a bully to Prince George.
"You need to keep Savannah Philips away from the Duke & Duchess’s children as she is a bully," one person wrote, according to Twitter. "Perhaps Peter & Autumn Philips should start disciplining their unruly daughter, what a nightmare she is!"
"@Clarence House 1) send Peter & Autumn Phillips to counseling to learn about bullying," an enraged commenter penned. "Obviously they are oblivious to Savannahs bossy/bullying ways. 2) Teach their children some manners, especially Savannah. Bossy & a Bully- look @ old photos. Always pushing young ones around."
"The Duke should watch out for Savannah Philips who seems to be overdoing "it" with Prince George," another person added. "This wasn't funny at all and she could well be a little bully. She needs watching."
Of course, there's no denying Phillips was wrong to push Prince George. Even if Phillips was fed up with Prince George (it's not uncommon for older kids to get annoyed with younger ones), she should have expressed her frustration in a healthy way. But is it really fair to call Phillips a bully?
For starters, experts agree that bullying is a "repeated pattern of taunting, teasing, and other aggressive actions," according to WebMD. Obviously, fans can't truly know if Phillips' behavior fits a pattern. Simply put, you can't tell if someone is a bully based on one incident. As for those who will argue that the shushing moment shows a pattern, it's important to note that Prince George seemed to be in on the joke.
Either way, this incident presents an opportunity to discuss what bullying looks like and its many forms. Signe Whitson, a licensed social worker and school counselor, notes there are four categories of bullying: verbal, physical, relational, and cyberbullying. For those who aren't familiar with relational bullying, Whitson describes it as when "kids use friendship--and the threat of taking their friendship away—to hurt others," according to Psychology Today. Whitson says this type of bullying is especially confusing because it occurs in the context of friendship.
If you notice your child is struggling in these areas — either as a victim or perpetrator — it's important to talk it out with them.
If you're kid is experiencing bullying, first let them describe their feelings and perspective in their own terms. It's important to let your child sort out their emotions in their own words first. Next, practice with your child how to respond and act in unsafe situations. If you need help with this, don't hesitate to reach out to an expert in the field or a trusted professional at your child's school. When in doubt, ask.
If you suspect your child is a bully, Parents magazine suggests asking probing questions to help your child understand why the behavior is problematic. Most importantly, it's necessary that your child understands why the behavior is wrong and that it won't be tolerated. Following the conversation, establish and enforce consistent consequences. If you need help doing this, work with a trusted professional or someone at your child's school. In fact, it's probably a good idea to reach out to a professional regardless, especially if the behavior occurs outside of the home.
Ultimately, fans don't know whether Phillips is exhibiting bullying behaviors or not. Only Phillips' loved ones know this answer, and I imagine they'd address her behavior if there was a consistent problem. If I had to guess, however, I'd chalk up the hill incident to an error in judgment. Although Phillips is five years older than Prince George, it's important to keep in mind that she's a kid too.