Help - My Child is A Bully
No parents ever wants to be the recipient of a call that their child is a bully. We all think as parents that our child will be bullied and worry about that and forget that our child could very well be the culprit of being the bully.
The first thing to do is to be realistic and not defensive and take the call with a gracious open mind. Before getting defensive and blaming the school, the situation and other children, as parents we are aware of our child and know their personality and habits better than anyone else. After all, we live with them right! Even the best mannered children with the best academic scores can be bullies so do not act as the surprised parent.
The first thing to do is to realize that there could be many reasons why one child bullies’ others and it is important to be able to be logical and work through the situation. Many times, children especially those who have been brought up as the only child or the youngest child or sometimes the “only male gender” develops a sense of entitlement. Other times it can be that as a result of being bullied, they have developed this as a method of self-defense. Sometimes it could be an impulsive behavior or inability to manage anger. As parents, whatever the reason we have to take action and “discipline” the child for their actions. There is no hard-fast rule of how to fix this but there are several recommended methods.
Once you have accepted that there is an issue, we have to address it before it gets out of hand. You need to talk to your child immediately and let them know that this behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated, and present consequences for future repeated actions.
Now that you have set the tone, it is important to determine the root of the bullying. Address the importance of positive communication and how to resolve conflicts between friends. Remind them that bullying others is a choice and by choosing to be a bully they have made the wrong choice or decision which could impact them in many ways – from losing friendships, to possible school suspensions. It is important that your child accept and acknowledge the responsibility for their actions otherwise the exercise is frugal.
Implement a system of punishment, the best one being to take away privileges, like cancelling going to the movies or an event or even a possible favorite class, taking away electronics (most popular), watching TV etc. Be sure to have a plan of action that is consistent with the behavior.
If the school decides to implement a disciplinary plan, then be sure to support the school and partner with them to support them so your child understands the consequences for their behavior is not acceptable. Do not behave like the “rescue parent” who want to protect the child and not accept responsibility for their behavior.
Work with your child or get them into a program to teach them better people skills to prevent future bullying incidents. Many times, if not this behavior is not worked on, it affects the child in their long-term relationships, personally and professionally. Do not think that “one outgrows bullying”.
Whilst at the same time you are implementing parenting skills and discipline, do not insult or shame your child about their behavior. Shaming is a form of bullying and does not have any positive impact on your child or your relationship with them. Try to be compassionate and empathetic to them, opening up communication to encourage your child to speak to you about how they feel. Remember, it is critical that your child know they can come to you at any time to address how they feel.
We must not forget during this process of tackling their bullying actions, that they are our child, and no-one is perfect. Many times, children will duplicate what they have seen at home so be sure you or other family members are not acting like bullies.