It happens to the best of parents. A call from the principal or a teacher alerts there’s been an altercation at school. Only… your kid is the bully who caused the issue.
“Jimmy kicked Christopher in the leg and he’s got a big bruise…”
“Suzy cornered Kara and started calling her horrible names… then she told horrible lies about Kara and now other girls don’t want to be her friend.”
As the news is delivered, you’re either really surprised… it’s what you’ve been fearing for a while… or you just simply can’t accept that your child has done anything wrong.
Regardless, it’s important that you stop for a moment, listen to what you’re being told and not shy away from the action that needs to be taken.
Why Kids Bully
According to non-profit STOMP Out Bullying, there are a handful of reasons a child bullies his/her peers:
- They aren’t getting the attention they need at home. He or she needs a bit more nurturing and understanding.
- Older siblings are bullying him or her at home.
- They are exposed to adult bullies and are emulating them. It can be their mom, dad, aunts, uncles, coaches, babysitters, or any other adult role model they are exposed to.
- Some kids are just more prone to aggressive behavior. It just may be one of their major challenges in life to overcome.
- There is an emotional issue your child is battling with. If they don’t know how to express themselves, they may be lashing out.
“Bullies dominate, blame and use others… they see weaker kids as their target… they crave power and attention,” explains STOMP Out Bullying.
4 Most Common Types of Bullies
According to the organization, there are four types of bullies… and it’s very important to identify which type your child may be:
- Bullied Bullies – They have been victims of bullying themselves and try to get relief from making others feel helpless and overpowered.
- Social Bullies – They have poor self-esteem and deal with their insecurities by manipulating others, gossiping, or cutting their peers down.
- Detached Bullies – They’re very calculated and plan their attacks. Many times they are likable to the majority of the kids around them but select one or a few victims to antagonize.
- Hyperactive Bullies – They have tons of energy… so much so that they may not be able to sit still in class and have a hard time socializing with their peers. Sometimes they use their energy to bully and make others feel iuncomfortable.
How to Stop Your Child from Bullying Others
#1 Face the Facts
According to Jennifer Cannon, a family therapist in Newport Beach, “Ninety-nine percent of parents will say, ‘No way, not my kid’ and get defensive.”
While we all want to believe that our kids are angels, it’s extremely important to listen carefully and to be open to the fact that your child may have done something wrong.
The more you deny the fact that your child is bullying one or more of his/her peers, the worse things can turn. The beauty of acceptance is that you can take action now.
If for any reason you have doubt, you may consider monitoring their phone activity. Parentology
#2 Get Help As Soon As Possible
Once you have identified your child’s behavior, set up a therapy appointment or reach out to a school counselor. This will help you understand why they feel compelled to hurt others.
It will also give you time to analyze the role that you, your spouse, your other children, or other major influences may have in the situation. It’s vital that you understand how much home environment is affecting your child’s actions.
Don’t be afraid of what you may learn. EVERY human being on this planet faces challenges that they need to overcome. You can overcome them together… with love and understanding.
#3 Discuss the Consequences of Bullying
According to Cannon, accountability is the key to your child making changes in their behavior. This requires that you have very frank conversations with them and outline the consequences if they are to continue bullying other kids.
“Outline and follow through with consequences for bullying behavior,” she suggests. This means both long-term and short-term consequences.
Explain to your child what can happen to them as they grow and become adults. Give them concrete examples of what aggression can do to a person’s future.
Secondly, you can discuss short-term consequences. These can include having certain privileges taken away… such as taking their cell phone away, eliminating TV or video game time, or any activity that they prize
Cannon also suggests having your child write down how they feel, explain why they feel the need to bully, and even go as far as writing an apology letter to the child/children they have treated poorly.
#4 Work with Your Child’s School
Dare yourself to work with school officials… don’t ignore them or fight against their efforts to deal with the situation.
Ronald Mah, a family therapist in San Leandro, California
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and admit that your child needs guidance. You can all work together to ensure a beautiful outcome.
#5 Help Your Child Gain Social Skills
The secret to anyone’s success is growth. Take strides to offer more opportunities for your child to connect with their peers. You can do this by enrolling them in extracurricular activities like art and music groups, sports, and anything that makes your child come alive.
Take time to really listen to them… give him/her the power of choice. This means allowing for them to decide which activities inspire them the most, giving them the ability to voice their hopes and fears, and find their own tribe of positive friends.