If you’ve ever received a call from your child’s school notifying you that your son or daughter is in trouble for bullying, 99 percent of the time you will either be in denial or defensive. Believe it or not, every kid is capable of bullying, even if your child does seem like a precious little angel.
So, why do kids bully in the first place? Well, according to Ronald Mah, a family therapist in San Leandro, California, there are two distinguishable reasons why kids bully. One reason is for the popularity or respect and the other reason is a feeling of deprivation that leads kids to feel entitled to bullying other kids; justifying their reasons by saying, “I’ve been picked on, so I’ll get to them before they get to me.”
Kids also imitate the examples of bullying they perceive every day through social media, TV shows, other kids at school and even in their family. Most of the time they may not realize that this type of behavior is wrong.
So, what should you do if your child is a bully? Take a deep breath and let the school know that you want to work together to provide a positive outcome and follow these simple steps that can help your child unlearn these bullying behaviors and encourage them to change their ways.
What Should You Do If Your Child Is Bullying Other Kids?
If you’ve recently discovered that your child is bullying other children at school, follow these simple tips to help your child learn that bullying is wrong and let them know why they shouldn’t engage in this type of behavior.
Acknowledge Your Child’s Behavior
Take the time out to sit down with your child, speak in a calm and firm tone while you ask them why they behaved in that manner. Refrain from blaming and attentively listen to your child. Children need to understand that it’s OK to admit that they made a mistake.
Ask your child questions to help them understand how their behavior could affect other people. Ask them questions like: “Do you feel like what you did was disrespectful? Did it make someone cry? How would you feel if someone did that to you?
Make sure you focus on the importance of treating all people fairly by saying, “Our family doesn’t behave in this manner because we respect everyone, and we wouldn’t want other people to treat us that way.”
Think of Consequences for Your Child
Help your child understand that they’re accountable for their actions. Discuss, outline and follow through with consequences for bullying. Have your child write them down, review them together once a week and enforce them if necessary. You could either take something away from your children like their cell phone or a favorite toy, you could also reduce TV or video game time, or even prevent them from going out with their friends.
You could also turn the bullying behavior into a lesson by brainstorming ways your child can handle future circumstances that’ll lead to a more positive outcome. Have your child write a paragraph explaining how it would feel to be in the other child’s shoes or have your child write an apology letter to the child they hurt.
Work With Your Child’s School
You don’t have to feel like the people at school will judge you as a bad parent. Raising children is hard and it’s not bad to ask for help. In fact, school personnel works more effectively when they know that parents will work cohesively together to improve the situation. Ask the school counselor for community resources that are available to help your child and make sure you keep in contact with the school to see if your child’s behavior has improved.
Work on Building Emotional and Social Skills With Your Child
Encourage your child to improve the skills for resolving conflicts and handling difficult situations. Look for after-school programs that can help provide a new environment to develop a new way to build positive relationships. Working on these skills at a young age will help your child when they get older.
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Peck, S. (n.d.). When Your Kid Is the Bully: What to Do. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/kids/problems/bullying/when-your-child-is-the-bully/