If your child is a bully, it’s easy to go into denial. Even though it’s hard to accept that your kid is mean and possibly even physically aggressive, it’s a reality that must be dealt with. This article discusses 8 ways for handling your child’s callous behavior.
Not my kid.
When you find out that your child is a bully, it’s easy to sink into denial. After all, it’s appalling to imagine that they’re the instigator of teasing, name-calling, exclusion, threats, or even physical aggression. However, when that phone call comes — from a teacher, a parent, or both — you’ll have to face the fact that this is, indeed, your child, and you’ll need to intervene.
Here are eight ways you can deal with your kid’s cruel behavior.
Let Them Know That Their Behavior Is Unacceptable
Immediately after an incident, let your child know that hurting others, both physically and emotionally, is unacceptable. When you call them out as soon as possible, you demonstrate that you’re not oblivious to what’s happening, and you won’t tolerate it. Your child needs to take responsibility for what they did and not deny it or pawn off the blame onto another kid.
Your child needs to know that there are consequences for their misbehavior and that you’ll enforce punishment. First, have them apologize to the victim in-person. Not a feigned eye-rolling, shoulder-shrugging apology, but one that is respectful and sincere. Then, withdraw one of their privileges. It should be something that they’re going to miss greatly, such as cell phone privileges. This will show them that bullying has repercussions.
Make Sure They’re Not Emulating YOUR Bad Behavior
Examine your behavior to see if you belittle or intimidate people. Do you snap at food servers? Do you gossip and dish the dirt? Do you instigate petty arguments with strangers? Do you hurl threats? Children emulate their parents’ behavior, and you’re sending the message that it’s perfectly acceptable to lash out at others, scare them or make them feel inferior.
See Who Their Friends Are
Bullying is often clique-type behavior, where a group of children gang up on another kid. If your child is hanging out with a pack of bullies, they may be mirroring their friends’ aggressive behavior. Your child may also be desperately seeking acceptance and a sense of belonging and gets that when they hang out with a rough crowd and act just as mean as them.
Find out If They’re Insensitive to Kids Who Are Different
Bullies lack compassion for children who have disabilities, different ethnicities, and different religions. They target kids whose physical features they can exploit: short, tall, thin, overweight, flat-chested, large-eared. There are countless traits that they can weaponize.
Your child does this because they see people who are different as weak, vulnerable, and easy to pick on. Help them cultivate empathy by having them think carefully about how their behavior made their victim feel and how it would feel if the tables were turned.
Do They Have Trouble Dealing with Strong Emotions?
Bullies are often children who see aggression as a logical means of handling conflict. They have trouble regulating anger, managing frustration, controlling impulses, and following rules. If your child has these issues, their bullying may bleed into adulthood, resulting in abusive relationships, workplace problems, and trouble with the law.
Do They Feel Inadequate?
Your child’s bullying behavior may be related to low self-esteem. Are they doing poorly in their classes? Do they have trouble connecting socially? Are they insecure about some aspect of their appearance? If so, your child may bully another child so that they feel like they’re superior to someone. They feel bad, but when they bully someone, they’re making their victim feel worse. This makes them feel powerful and important.
Are They a Bullying Bystander?
Like someone who witnesses a crime and does nothing, bystanders watch a bully torment a child and don’t intervene. This makes them just as bad as the bully. Often, they don’t step in because they fear revenge or being pegged as a traitor. They could even dread becoming bullied themselves if they try to help the victim. Bullying bystanders may also become bullies if they become desensitized to witnessing abuse.
“People say sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you, but that’s not true. Words can hurt. They hurt me. Things were said to me that I still haven’t forgotten.” –Demi Lovato
When a parent or teacher calls to tell you that your child is a bully, it’s a numbing experience. Even though it’s one of every parent’s worst nightmares, the sooner you act, the better. With love and guidance, your bully could transform into someone’s best friend.
Note: If you buy anything through the links on this page, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.