For some parents, having their child bullied at school is their idea of a worst nightmare. However, what if it’s your child that’s doing the bullying?
Obviously, no parent aims to bring their kid up to be a bully. But it can be very difficult to spot the warning signs. Many children act in a different manner when their parents aren’t around.
What’s more, the older they get, the more difficult it is to spot, as bullying becomes subtler amongst middle- and high-school age kids.
Since most parents don’t find out what’s been going on until they get a phone call from school, I’m going to highlight what you need to be looking out for and how to put a stop to this unwelcome behavior.
Warning Signs That May Indicate Your Child is a Bully
There aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to being able to determine if your child is engaging in bullying behavior at school. However, there are several possible warning signs you can look out for.
While it’s important to look for these warning signs, you should remember that if you notice any of the following traits in your child, it doesn’t automatically mean they are a bully.
They Lack Empathy
Lacking empathy is one of the telltale signs that your kid may be a bully.
If your child rarely shows remorse when they behave inappropriately at home, or they get easily frustrated when they don’t get their own way, then it’s likely that they have little regard for their own actions towards other kids when at school or other social events.
Also look for impulsivity or hot-headedness over seemingly insignificant issues. You can then start to imagine how’ll they behave when they don’t get what they want in the playground.
They’re Obsessed with Being Popular
This tends to be more of a warning sign for teens and tweens than younger children, but it can start at elementary school. Particularly given the recent advance of technology into our lives.
Analyze your child’s desire to be looked upon favorably, and to what degree peer perception influences their behavior. This insecurity surrounding how well liked they are can lead to bullying behavior.
If they love to talk about how popular they are, they may be excluding other kids from his or her social group, and bullying anyone who’s not within their clique.
Monitor Close Friends Behavior
If your child’s close friends are aggressive and exhibit bullying behavior, then it may be only a matter of time before your child follows suit as a result of peer pressure.
How your son or daughter interacts with their friends on social visits will indicate to you if one (or all) of them are negatively influencing your child’s behavior.
What to Do If Your Child Is a Bully
If you’ve either been told by the school or some received information from another incontrovertible source about your child’s bullying behavior there’s no need to panic.
With the right actions you can quickly put a stop to it and help to develop your child’s interpersonal skills.
The first step, however, starts with you, the parent.
Acknowledge The Problem Behavior
It can be difficult for parents to admit that there is a problem. They feel like admitting their kid is a bully is akin to admitting that they are a bad parent.
There is no need to feel ashamed, guilty or embarrassed. Kids act out for all kinds of reasons, and it likely has nothing to do with your parenting.
Once you’ve managed to get over that hurdle, start by sitting your child down and questioning them. Allow them to give their version of events, once again watching to see if they blame others for their actions, or show no remorse.
You need to make your child realize that’s it’s ok to own up to making a mistake.
Punish in Line with School
It’s difficult to give punishment advice without the specific circumstances but it’s fair to say your punishment should at least reflect the school’s standards.
If your child has been suspended from attending school for a period of time, do not let them sit on the couch and watch movies. Restrict access to their favorite belongings and activities, making them realize that their actions have serious consequences.
If they see their time off as a vacation, their behavior will not alter.
It’s also a good idea to proactively meet with key stakeholders at the school (such as their teachers or the principal), to flesh out a coordinated plan to tackle your child’s behavior.
Develop Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence
Either through roleplay or real life examples when you’re both out together, demonstrate what correct behavior looks like. Children learn from their parents more than anybody else, so you have to set an example.
You also need to make them understand how their actions affect others. A great question that could set the lightbulb off could be “How would you like it if someone did that to you?”.
Their answer will reveal a lot about where they’re at with their empathy and interpersonal skills.
Don’t Despair If Your Child Is a Bully
If you are reliably informed that your child is a bully, or is exhibiting troubling behavior, do not feel humiliated.
You have no need to feel like you’ve failed as a mother. It can, and has, happened to many of us.
That being said, you can’t ignore the problem, you need to take action quickly.
Using the tips provided above, sit down with your child and delve deeper into what might be causing their issues, and work with their school to facilitate an end to their challenging behavior.
Have you found out that your child has been involved in bullying? What strategies were effective for you?
Let me know in the comments below!
Be sure to also check out- My kid is lazy, what do I do?