My son, Peter, coaches the “mighty” Jelly Beans, an adorable assortment of 4-year old boys and girls who are learning a team sport for the first time.

It dawned on me as I watched them enthusiastically make goals for the opposing team (The Peanuts) that this was much more than learning a sport. It was learning how to treat each other.

Out of the blue, a frustrated little Peanut shoved a Jelly Bean right to the ground. It was the quickest way to get the ball. After the Ref reprimanded the perpetrator, the game was about to resume. I was proud to see that big, tall, 25-year old Peter stopped the game to kneel down, look his pint-sized player in the eye and compliment him for NOT hitting back.

When the action started up again, all was forgiven. Then the craziest thing happened. The little boy that had been shoved went from feeling shaken to feeling full of confidence and went on to make three goals — for his own team this time.

I guess the moral of this Jelly Bean story is that if more adults took the time to stop, connect and compliment, the emotional effects of bullying wouldn’t be so brutal.

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