What If Your Child is the Bully?
Bullying has been in the news a lot lately. We often hear very upsetting stories about the effects of bullying on young victims. However, it is also very difficult and upsetting to discover that your own child is a bully. Most parents do not know what to do if they discover that their child has been bullying others, and they often take steps that make the problem worse.
If you are told that your child is bullying other children, it is very important that you stay calm and gather all the facts first. Do not jump to any conclusions. You cannot automatically assume that your child is guilty and you cannot assume that your child is innocent of the charges. You need to be sure of what has actually happened before you take any actions. Ask everyone involved in the bullying incident for their version of the story.
If it is clear that your child has been bullying other children, you need to make it very clear that you will not tolerate any more bullying no matter what the provocation. You also need to talk to your child at length in a non-threatening way if you want to understand what caused this behavior.
Children often bully others out of a sense of frustration and low self-esteem. They pick on a victim who appears to be powerless and they momentarily feel better by making another child feel frightened or humiliated.
Children who bully others often lack a sense of empathy. They are literally not able to understand how the other child feels when being bullied. You will need to explain to them that every person has feelings and that they need to respect others.
Spell out very clearly what the consequences will be if there is any further bullying behavior, and stick to your decision. It is best to avoid any physical punishments as this type of discipline will cause your child to believe that a bigger person can always use force to impose his will on smaller people. This can actually aggravate a bullying problem.
You need to help your child learn new ways of coping when they feel powerless and upset. One good way is to model good behavior yourself. Teach your child to use discussion and negotiation to get what they want instead of yelling and making threats.
Let your child know that you love and support him despite his unacceptable behavior. You also need to help him find new, better ways to find solutions when he feels frustrated.