As a teacher, I’ve had to make a phone call that I honestly dreaded. I had to honestly disclose their child’s behavior towards other kids and it wasn’t pretty. In many cases, I heard parents say in frustration, “my child is a bully!” They worried about their child being a victim, but had a hard time believing that their son or daughter was on the other end!
If you are thinking “my child is a bully” or have reason to suspect it, don’t worry. We can help. Below are our tips for parents when your own child is the one doing the bullying.
Don’t Panic! Your Child Isn’t Bad
Schools and the media have drawn a lot of attention to bullying in recent months. And, a lot of that has tended to demonize the bullies. Most bullies will not end up as criminals or on the evening news. So, if you think your child is a bully, it doesn’t mean he or she is bad in any way. Bullying behavior does need corrected, but, for many children, bullying is a phase or a way of dealing with other issues. So, don’t freak out, question your parenting, or lay into your kid. Be calm. In fact, if you overreact, you may add to the stress.
Channel The Self Esteem
Contrary to popular belief, bullies don’t hate themselves or have low self esteem. They typically are confident people who love themselves and their abilities. They are typically natural born leaders. But, they often don’t have outlets for their high self esteem. If your kid is a bully, then try to get him involved in activities where he can take the lead. It could be anything from sports to a school club. Let your bullying child find a way to get others to follow him in ways that are appropriate and character building.
If you are thinking my child is a bully, then maybe your son or daughter lacks empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person. It’s essentially walking in the other person’s shoes for awhile. Kids, even teens, sometimes have a hard time thinking of anyone but themselves. Try to get them to understand perspectives other than their own. Ask them questions and put them in circumstances that require empathy. For example, have them volunteer at a homeless shelter to soup kitchen, then discuss it as a family.
Model Power, Not Force
Bullies often operate from force. They use their size, words, or other instruments to force others to do their will. They lack true persuasion or influence and use forceful techniques to belittle others or get their way. They often see this in the world. Their teachers give detentions, parents scream and spank, etc.
Give them good examples in your home of power, not force. Avoid screaming and instead try to find ways to be a good example to your kids. Which brings us too…
Change Yourself Too
while there are notable exceptions, in most cases children learn behavior from their parents. So, if you’re hearing the dreaded my child is a bully news then maybe it’s time to see how you behave. Are you overbearing, belittling, or negative? Do you bully your spouse, your kids or other adults?
If so, then you’ll have to look in the mirror and try to improve your behavior as well. Then your son or daughter can see the right behavior in action.
So, don’t despair if your child is bullying others! Also, our website has many resources to help your kid be more confident and successful.