My Child Is A Bully

Find out how to deal with a child who is bullying others…

Discovering your child is a bully can come as a massive shock. It’s deeply unsettling to hear that your child has been purposefully mean to another child. Your mind starts to race and tumble as you simultaneously try to figure out why your child is acting in this way, how to deal with it, and what can be done to make it right.

Why Is My Child Bullying?

There can be lots of reasons why your child is bullying. A lot of the time, it stems from low self-esteem or peer pressure. Other reasons could include:

  • Looking for attention.
  • Lashing out due to feeling bullied themselves.
  • An inability to control their anger or frustrations.
  • Low Self Esteem

Younger kids, especially, often have a lack of understanding of how their behaviour is affecting others. Whatever the reason for the bullying, it’s important to try and understand your child’s behaviour.

Talk To Your Child

Sit your child down and talk to them about their behaviour. If a certain incident has been reported to you, such as a teacher witnessing your child pushing a classmate, ask your child to talk you through the situation and explain it from their point of view. Make it clear that you are willing to hear their side of the story and let them talk without interruption.

Once you’ve heard what your child has to say, you may have a clearer picture of why they’ve acted in this way, whether it’s due to peer pressure or a desire to fit in, or simply losing their temper. Whilst you may understand their feelings, regardless of the reason, it’s important to explain to your child why their behaviour is unacceptable and why it can be so damaging.

If you’re struggling to get to the bottom of the situation, try talking to your child’s teacher to get an insight into their day-to-day behaviour at school. Often, a bully who is perfectly well-behaved at home can be the complete opposite in the classroom. Your child’s teacher will be able to provide some background on any bullying behaviours, social situations or incidents that may have taken place in school.

Consider family dynamics

Often children model the behaviours of those at home. Do members of your family use put downs and shout at each other? Do siblings hit or exclude one another or use name calling.

Whilst no family is perfect it’s important to recognise any bullying behaviours and discuss this as a family, so they learn to understand what is and isn’t ok . Consider what types of behaviour you would like to foster within the family and model these. This may include  mutual respect, discussing problems calmly, acts of kindness and helping one another.

Talk About Consequences

Talk to your child about the various consequences their behaviour can have. Firstly, tackle the bullying itself – ask them to consider how the person they have been bullying might feel. Talk to your child about how bullying can make a person feel worthless, isolated and frightened. Ask your child to recall a time when they have felt very sad or alone and point out why it’s never acceptable to intentionally make anyone else feel that same way. You could also ask your child to read our How Do I Stop The Bullying? advice to illustrate how distressing it is to be a victim of bullying.

Secondly, there are, of course, consequences to their behaviour in the form of punishment. It’s likely your child’s school has an anti-bullying policy in place and will want to follow a specific disciplinary route. Support your school in this – it’s important for your child to learn that actions have consequences and that parents cannot always bail them out. Your child needs to take responsibility for their own actions.

Punishment At Home

Removing privileges is often the go-to for punishment and can work well in teaching your child about the consequences of their actions. You can remove access to the internet, their phone or take away other electronics. You will know best which privileges to remove.

What is vitally important here is to offer your child a way of earning these privileges back. Reward needs to go hand-in-hand with punishment in order to be effective. If your child has no hope of earning any of their privileges back, they would be more likely to give up, accept their lot and continue with negative behaviours. It’s much more effective to give your child a chance to earn back, say, their mobile phone once they have demonstrated positive steps to rectify their bad behaviour, such as trying to make amends with the person they have bullied.

“I’m Sorry…”

Encourage your child to make it right when the dust has settled. This could be in the form of an apology letter, a text or a face-to-face meeting with the bullied child. It may be that the person who your child has bullied doesn’t reply or refuses to meet, and that’s completely their right. That doesn’t mean your child is off the hook with the apology – it still has to be made, even if the bullied child never sees or hears it. Apologies can be made to parents, other classmates, the teacher and anyone else your child’s behaviour might have affected.

It can be hard to stand up and admit mistakes, but it’s an important step for your child in making amends and owning their actions. Your child might want to reach out by inviting the person or persons they have treated badly in the past over for a BBQ or some other social event in an attempt to build bridges. It might be that both parties might decide to go their separate ways. Whatever happens, the apology can help both your child and the bullied party move on.

Preventing Future Incidents

Encourage empathy and understanding in the home to keep the focus on positive behaviours and treating others with kindness and respect. Keep in close contact with your child’s teacher to monitor the situation in order to react quickly if any future incidents arise. Remember to reinforce positive behaviours with praise, children who such as when you see your child actively trying to make amends. Positive reinforcement and support will help build their self esteem and allow them to forge healthier connections and friendships in future.

For more information and advice on bullying, go to https://www.bullying.co.uk/


Related Posts

Download the App

Hidden strength the go – to, advice + support portal for 13 – 24 year olds designed to provide accessible and immediate support and chat-based therapy from qualified therapists to any young people who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing, completely for free.