What if My Child is a Bully?
“Your child is a bully”, are four words no parent wants to hear, and your first instinct may be to deny it. However, in order to intervene and change bullying behaviors, parental involvement is essential. It will be important for your child and for the children he or she comes in contact with that the behaviors are addressed immediately. Children who bully are high risk for other types of dangerous behaviors.
Aggressive behavior often starts early in a child's life. Although it is normal for young children to hit, fight, and argue with each other, most will learn to control these impulses. You can help your child understand that his or her words and actions affect other people. You play an important role in making your child aware of others' feelings.
You may learn from other parents or a school official that your child has been acting aggressively, or you may notice some changes in your child’s behavior. Your child may be bullying another child if he or she:
- Comes home from school with extra money or "new" toys, books, or clothes.
- Is cruel or mean when talking about other children, for example name-calling.
- Excludes other children from activities.
If you see or hear about any of this behavior, take action.
Steps To Take If Your Child Is a Bully
- Talk with your child. Listen calmly and openly to their account of the situation and explanation for their behavior. Ask questions to find out what is going on in your child's life. It may be that your child is being bullied and is dealing with it by targeting other children. Or your child may not yet know the importance of understanding the feelings of others.
- Help your child understand how their behavior hurts other children.
- Establish clear consequences for aggressive behavior for example the loss of privileges and make it clear that bullying is unacceptable. You can help your child by setting rules, supervising activities, and leading by example. Control your anger, and show sensitivity and respect for others.
- Model nonviolent behavior in your household; do not punish him or her with physical force, such as spanking. Physical punishment only strengthens the belief that people can get what they want through aggression.