When your child is the bully, here's what to do
If it's your child who's the bully, chances are you'll find out through a teacher or fellow parent. It can be shattering as a parent to hear something like this about your child, but it's vital that you act rationally and immediately because while the victims of bullying can grow up to have lifelong issues, so can the perpetrators.
Here's a step-by-step guide to trying to stop your child bullying others.
- Ask your child if they can explain what has happened and why, without you becoming too judgemental at this stage.
- Talking with your child find out if there are ways you can work together to stop this behaviour.
- Explain that the bullying behaviour is completely unacceptable and that this situation will worsen if the bullying continues.
- See if you can get your child to understand how frightened and upset the victim feels.
- Criticise the behaviour but don't reject your child.
- Praise your child's good behaviour.
- Tell your child that you're confident that he or she can change their behaviour because you know that that you child is not really a bully, and you know is capable of kindness and empathy.
- If your child is bullying in a ‘gang' help them to develop new interests and encourage friendships away from that group.
- Observe your child's social skills and ability to get along with others and help them improve these.
- Spend more time with your child, listening to them, and giving more attention.
- Support the measures that the organizations (like the school) take to stop the bullying.
- Reinforce measures at home, explaining that there will be consequences (such as loss of privileges) if the bullying does not stop.
According to research, children who are bullies are at risk of developing long-term problems with antisocial behaviour and have a higher risk of engaging in workplace harassment, child abuse, sexual harassment and substance abuse in later life. Some statistics suggest that even half of kids who bully have been bullied themselves.
Find more bullying solutions and information
- Helping when your child is bullied
- How bullies pick their victim
- My child is a bully
- What makes a bully
- What is bullying
- Bullying definitions
- Facts and figures about bullying
- Is your child being bullied
- How to deal with bullying
- What parents can do about bullying
- When your child is a bully, here's what to do
- How to talk about bullying and cyber bullying
- Cyber bullying: here's what it is and how to tackle it
- How parents can prevent bullying
- School policies on bullying
This article was written by Fiona Baker, former editor in chief of Mother & Baby, Pregnancy & Birth and Wondertime magazines, for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading parenting and pregnancy resource. Sources include Bullying No Way, National Centre Against Bullying, Raising Children Network, and Bullying Hurts.