What to Do When Your Child Is a Bully

Updated on February 2, 2017
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest are just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learner, & development professional.

Children who bully also need help
Children who bully also need help | Source

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

What goes on in the mind of a bully?
What goes on in the mind of a bully? | Source

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?

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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?

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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.

Questions & Answers


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      • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

        JP Carlos 

        23 months ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

        Hello Martha,

        The sooner parents accept the truth, the sooner they can help their child.

      • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

        JP Carlos 

        23 months ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

        Hi Sandy,

        Many kids do not realize their actions unless someone points it out to them.

      • profile image


        23 months ago

        Great post. I think some parents don't want to accept that their perfect child may not be so perfect. But getting to the underlying issue is a big part of trying to turn things around.

      • profile image

        Sandy KS 

        23 months ago

        My daughter is both. She is a bully. Plus, she gets bullied. She doesn't understand when she bullies back that she becomes the bully. Even her teachers says she does get bullied but she bullies the bullies back.

      • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

        JP Carlos 

        23 months ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

        Hi there Neha Binani,

        Building character is important. We will deal with different personalities and challenges as we grow older and move through life. Our kids must build a strong foundation. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

      • Neha Binani profile image

        Neha Binani 

        23 months ago

        Give enough confidence to your child and do teach him how to face it without fear and cry


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