What to Do When Your Child Is a Bully
Many parents are concerned that their child might be bullied at school. After all, bullying is a reality that children have to face. This is so serious that even law makers in many countries have pushed legislation to stop bullying and protect students. But, what do you do when your child is the bully?
It may be difficult to accept that your child is a bully. No parent would want to hear this. It is a blow to your parenting style and strategies. Moreover, people may even question your values as a parent. Surely, being branded as a bully does not just affect the child but also the whole family. So, what do you do?
Discover the Underlying Reason
Before you start cursing and cussing at your child it would be more productive to discover the underlying cause of the bullying behavior. It pays to listen to what they have to say. Of course, this is easier said than done. Your child may close up instead of opening to you—especially if you are the one he/she sees as the problem. Talking to your child and gaining their trust and respect are fundamental in these situations. Instead of prying open their emotions, allow them to voluntarily open up to you.
- Spend more QUALITY TIME with your child
- Do stuff together that he/she enjoys—even if it means playing a video game you are terrible at with him/her
- Keep an open mind when talking to your child—you are here to discover and help not to crucify your child
- Sincerely listen to your child
- Offer solutions and alternatives to the problems and concerns that your child raises
- Discover more about your child
Learn More About Your Child
It is a good idea to learn more about your child’s life outside the home. Knowing his/her friends can give you a better perspective on his/her behavior. Moreover, it is a good idea to see the world from his/her perspective. Remember that the world you know may be different from what your child sees. Understanding your child’s social sphere, activities, beliefs and values will help you reach out to him/her and provide the appropriate guidance.
- Talk to teachers about your child’s school performance
- Consult with the school’s guidance counsellor
- Know who your child is hanging out with at school and/or in the neighborhood
- Talk to other parents, teachers and students
Just a word of caution though, your child may see this as snooping around and invading his/her privacy so use a little discretion. Remember that you want to know your child more and not drive your child away.
Allow Them to Express Themselves In a Productive Way
One key factor in controlling your child’s behavior is to let him/her express emotions in a productive way. The first step is putting a label to this emotion. It gets frustrating when you can’t let out this negative feeling. Even adults have difficulty putting a handle on their emotions. Even at an early age, allow them to describe the way they feel. They can feel bad but allow them to go further. Is it frustration in their school work? Is it jealousy over something or someone? Or do they feel neglected because they lack attention? The reasons for bullying may vary from child to child. However, letting them express themselves properly can help channel their emotions properly.
- Guide your child in expressing their emotions
- Suggest alternative actions other than bullying others
- Acknowledge and commend them for expressing their emotions properly
- Sincerely remind them when they go astray
- Listen to your child with an open heart and mind
- Provide a safe, comforting and assuring place to express their emotions.
Helping your child express themselves properly entails parents having to express themselves properly as well. Tone down on the yelling, cussing and cursing. Keep in mind that your actions and how you deal with problem will affect how they deal with theirs. Proper handling of emotions can give your child a better way of relating with others.
Has your child been a victim of bullying?
Change Fueled by Love
As a parent hearing that our child is a bully can be disheartening. The initial reaction may even be anger and disbelief. However, when facts pour in that point to the reality that your child may indeed be a bully at school, it is time to shift gears and adapt a mindset that is productive for you and for your child.
There are many other steps to take like getting help from professionals, getting assistance from family and friends. Involving people that matter most to your child can also help. Regardless of what you choose, ensure that it is productive, caring and understanding. And if needed, changes must take place not just in the child but with you as a parent and the family as a supportive social institution for your child.
If your child has ever been branded as a bully, then it is time you take positive action. Any parent in his right mind should.
Do you think schools should have programs to help bullies change for the better?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.