My child? A bully? No way! That is probably most parents’ response or at least what most parents would like to think of their children. Unfortunately, somebody has got to be the bully, not everyone can be the victim. Of course, that is not something we want to hear but denying that your child is the culprit is not going to help the situation.
So what can you do as a parent when you find out your child has been bullying others?
1. Schedule an appointment to talk with your child’s teacher or school counselor.
Your child’s teacher may be able to give you some more insights on what is going on in the classroom, or tell you of any unusual behavior that he/she has witnessed about your child. A school counselor may be able to give you some ideas on how to talk to your child about his/her behavior or even speak to the child him-/herself.
2. Explain to your child that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
Your child needs to learn how to behave appropriately toward others. Your child also needs to learn to have clear boundaries. If these are being crossed it is important that you, as a parent, are consequent in disciplining your child.
3. Examine behavior and interactions in your own home.
Is there something at home that is encouraging this type of behavior such as violent media in the form of video games, television or movies? Are there interactions that may lower your child’s self-esteem such as constant teasing or taunting by a sibling? When you discipline your child, are you focusing on how the behavior is unacceptable rather than your child? Are you, as parents, being a good role model to your children? How are you treating your spouse? Children watch and learn. That is why it is so important to be mindful especially when your children are around.
4. Talk with your child about who his friends are and what they do together.
Peers can be very influential, especially for teens. If your child is hanging around with kids who bully and encourage bullying behavior, you may want to talk with him/her about getting involved in activities that will help him/her be around a different crowd.
5. Be realistic.
Your child’s behavior will not change right away. When you are talking with your child, try to focus on how the behavior is unacceptable, not your child, and show your support for your child with praise for appropriate behavior.
Finding out that your child is a bully is not pleasant for any parent. Knowing that there are steps you can take to work on the behavior of your child should give you some comfort and hope. Again, your child may be negatively influenced by his friends, deal with peer pressure, copy behavior of a parent or sibling, or simply be going through something personal that makes him/her adapt such a behavior toward others. Whatever the case, you can work together with your child, family, and even your child’s teacher or school counselor to bring about the necessary change in your child’s behavior.
Author: Isabell Ohlinger
Edited by: Janie Lacy