As a parent, when your child is bullying others at school it can be the worst feeling in the world. Sadly, bullying in our society possesses a terrible stigma - for both the victim and the bully. This actually prevents any chance of mending what really is a debilitating problem. Fortunately there are several ways for parents to take action and help their child grow, develop and eventually learn their lesson when your child is bullying others.
1. Seek Help at School
If you were notified that your child is bullying others at school, chances are the administration is more than willing to step in and take action to help promote kindness and respect inside and outside the classroom. Do not hesitate to take them up on this offer. Many parents react in a very aggressive and defensive way, insisting that there is no way their child is bullying others. Being able to accept your child’s problem is the first step to helping them cope, and evolve into a self-respecting adolescent, not to mention eventually solving their awful bullying habits.
2. Apology Accepted
Throughout my childhood I was always told that apologizing can mend any regrettable altercation. As I grew up, I realized although an apology helped, it never truly took away the pain of what I or the other person was feeling. However when you child is bullying others, it is crucial to talk things out and see them express remorse for bad behavior. Whether or not the children involved feel 100% better is somewhat irrelevant; teaching and practicing good habits and behavior must take precedence. No one can go back in time, but continuing to enforce apologies and positive conversations among children and adolescents is the first step in promoting a safe, healthy and optimistic outlook for everyone involved.
3. Seek Professional Help
When your child is bullying others, feeling ashamed about reaching out to a social worker or psychologist for advice is simply not an option. I realize some parents prefer to be ignorant, but this only perpetuates what truly is a terrible problem. So I urge all parents who have had reservations about seeking professional help to please give it chance. I agree there is a stigma surrounding therapy in many societies and cultures, but honestly your child’s school and community will probably have more respect for parents who seek help than those who simply ignore the problem. Whether or not it is successful is also somewhat irrelevant because it’s better to know you have exercised all possible options when helping your child rather than choosing to do nothing at all.
4. Talk It out
With violence constantly inundating the media, when your child is bullying others it is hard to prevent them from acting out physically. The first step to dealing with a child who bullies others using force, is to continue to express the importance of talking things out. As silly as it sounds when I was in elementary school we had a song, and believe it or not I still remember it to this day because they made us sing it all the time! Here it is: Talk it out, talk it out, put your hands in your pocket talk it out, there’s no need to hit, scream or shout, talk it out, talk it out, talk it out. Now as you can tell that little ditty stuck with me for life! And it worked many times especially when the teachers added the little clap, clap, clap in between each line. Moreover, teaching your child how to rationally express their regular disagreements, opinions and problems may even help halt them from bullying before they even start.
5. Lead by Example
I’m sure we can all think of times in our lives when we’ve seen an adult act like a 2 year old and we can all agree it has not been a pretty sight to see. Something vital you can start doing when your child is bullying others is to aim to lead by example. And encourage your spouse to do the same! Whether we like it or not, children tend to imitate what they see at home; after all most young children consider their parents their biggest role models. So always practice civil and respectable behavior among your children. If they see you reacting in a terse, brash and overtly physical manner, chances are later on they will aim to do the same, especially in school among their peer group. So think about your child the next time you want to scream or yell on the road at another drive (this is the worst!) or at the grocer in your local supermarket. Nothing can be so terrible that it necessitates screaming and hollering, especially in front of your children.
6. Take Disciplinary Action
One of the best things you can do when your child is bullying others is closely monitor their behavior as much as possible at home. You can’t really control what happens in the classroom because you’re not there, but when they are under your supervision, in your home - it is up to YOU what the is the result of good and bad behavior. No one is saying you weren’t doing this before you found out your child was bullying others at school, but it is essential to continue to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior when they occur. We all have busy lives, but it’s also important to be there for your children as much as possible during this crucial growing period in their lives. I know this is old and cheesy but try keeping a chart with stickers and keep track of your child’s progress or use something you know they value to anchor your disciplinary tactics. Once again make sure your spouse does the same so your child doesn’t get confused.
7. The Sibling Dilemma
I call this one the sibling dilemma because it truly is a heart-wrenching dilemma within families. Many children grow up complaining that their older siblings bullied them whether verbally, physically or both their entire childhood and unfortunately this is rampant amongst brothers. As a parent this is a very sticky situation being that you don’t want to be accused of having favorites, and finding out the truth during each altercation is near impossible. What matters is that you show your children equal amounts of reward, punishment, respect and love. If there’s a fight in your home between siblings it doesn’t matter who or what started it, both children get punished. When you child is bullying others at school, they usually learn their behavior from someone else, in most cases an older, jealous sibling. You can prevent this but showcasing each of your children’s talents and qualities and never playing favorites. Emphasizing the fact that younger siblings look up to the older ones for advice and protection may help cultivate a newer, healthier perspective in your home.
There is no perfect solution when your child is bullying others, and studies show that despite all the turmoil that may exist now, children eventually grow out of these phases - but never unscathed. It’s really crucial that you demonstrate good behavior and take steps sooner rather than later to help your child and consequently other children and their families. Have you ever encountered your child bullying others? Has your child ever been the victim of bullying? What steps did you take, if any, to help your child in school and at home? Feel free to share!