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Bullying

Help! My Child is Bullying Others

10 Tips to Share with Your Children

1. Ask as many questions about the situation as possible so you can have a clear understanding of what happened.

When you hear that your child is bullying others, your first response may be to become angry or upset, but first ask your child to explain the situation to you in detail. Make sure you understand who was in involved, where it occurred, why it occurred, as well as your child’s role in it.

2. Do not ignore their aggressive and hurtful behaviors and think they will grow out of it stating, “Boys will be Boys” and “Girls will be Girls.”

Many parents assume that a little teasing or roughhousing is normal, or even a “natural” part of children growing up. However, research suggests that children who bully others are more likely to be aggressive and violent later in life. If you receive word that your child is bullying others, take the accusation seriously. What may seem harmless to you may be extremely hurtful to other children.

3. Do not automatically assume that your child is innocent and jump to their defense without understanding the entire story from all perspectives.

It may be difficult to accept that your child is exhibiting bullying behaviors, but it is important to remain unbiased when trying to figure out the facts. Many parents begin in denial of the situation, or assume that others are wrongly accusing their child. It takes a courageous and open-minded parent to accept that something needs to change before more harm is done.

4. Work to understand why they are engaging in hurtful behaviors.

Most likely there are underlying issues. They may be struggling to get something they need like attention or trying to feel in control. Talk to your child in order to understand the root of the behavior, instead of just the outcome, so you can work to prevent further instances of bullying. Some questions you can ask are: “What did you hope to get out of your behavior?” or “What is it about ______ that makes you target them?”

5. Encourage empathy for the other children involved.

Once you have heard your child’s account of the situation, ask them to place themselves in the other child’s shoes. Questions to ask could include, “How would you feel if someone did those things to you?” or “Do you think what you did was a nice thing to do?”

6. Let your child know you love them, but explain why their behavior is unacceptable and hurtful.

Discuss with your child that bullying, whether physical or verbal, is hurtful to others. Ensure they understand that pushing, hitting, starting or spreading rumors, name-calling, or teasing are not acceptable behaviors. Tell your child that you love and support them, but their behavior will not be tolerated.

7. Provide consequences.

Speak with your child and be clear and consistent in your description of what will happen if their bullying behavior continues. Think of consequences that will be meaningful to your child, like a loss of specific privileges or a letter of apology to the child or children being bullied.

8. If cyber-bullying is a concern, monitor internet and phone usage.

To prevent further issues from arising, monitor and limit your child’s access to the internet and place restrictions on their phone. Take the age of your child into consideration when deciding how much control over social media to exert. Ideas include restricting access to family computers in a common space, shutting off your modem after a certain hour, or restricting cellular data usage on phones. Additionally, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube specify as part of their privacy policies that users be at least 13 years old. If you child is under 13, consider terminating their accounts. Be prepared for pushback from your child, but remain firm in your decisions.

9. Talk to your child’s teacher.

After getting your child’s perspective, set up a meeting with their teacher, school counselor, or other school personnel involved to get another point of view. Ask questions about changes in your child’s peer group, if they are having any problems with schoolwork, and what evidence of bullying behavior they have witnessed. Listen without judgment, even if the teacher recounts a story very different from the one your child told you. Try to be impartial and let the school know you are willing to work with them to help prevent future issues.

10. Encourage and provide opportunities for additional counseling.

Depending on the severity of the situation, counseling may be a good idea. This will help them accept responsibility, learn empathy, and learn how to form and maintain relationships with their peers.


References:

What To Do If Your Child Is A Bully, StompOutBullying.org

What to Do When Your Child Is a Bully, PBS Parents