When Your Child Begins to Bully

Being bullied can make a child’s life a nightmare, but being the parent of a bully can be just as difficult as being the parent of a victim of bullying. Parents understand the harm bullying inflicts on others and confronting such negativity in their own children is difficult. Understanding why children bully, how to discuss bullying with a child and why providing an outlet for a child who engages in bullying are all important for parents who have determined that their children are bullying others.

Why Children Bully

Children bully for a variety of reasons, and some children may begin to bully for a combination of reasons. Common triggers which may start bullying behaviours include:

  • Learning the behaviours at home, on television, in video games or from being bullied.
  • Suffering a traumatic event such as the loss of a parent or parents divorcing .
  • Being bored, frustrated or feeling pressured at school or in their broader lives.
  • Desire to be popular or well-known, even if it means being feared by others.
  • Feeling neglected and desiring attention at any cost.
  • Anxiety over physical appearance or abilities.
  • As means of resistance or differentiation from a group they are unable to conform to.
  • Peer pressure to go along with bullying begun by others.

Discuss Bullying With Your Child

Children who engage in bullying others may know exactly what they are doing or may have no idea that their actions would be considered bullying. Talk with your child to find out more about his or her behaviour and the motivations behind it. Be sure to discuss: – Definitions of bullying, and how your child’s behaviours fit these definitions
– Why your child engages in these behaviours, how they make him feel
– If any particular incident kicked off these behaviours
– How the victims of his or her bullying feel, if you know this information
– How (s)he feels now that (s)he knows what (s)he has been doing to others
– If other friends or classmates are involved in the same bullying behaviours
– Your expectations of his or her behaviour going forward
– The consequences which will be enforced regarding his or her bullying behaviours

Provide An Outlet For Your Child

Once you and your child are on the same page regarding bullying it may help to offer your child an alternate route for the future. Provide him or her with an outlet for the emotions which led to bullying. Participating in sports, arts, music, therapy sessions, voluntary activities and family events can all give him or her something to look forward to on a regular basis, and hopefully something they will engage and with which they will have success. Some parents also decide to prompt their children not only to apologise to the victims of their bullying, but to invite them to participate in future activities together as well. It should be remembered, however, that if former victims of bullying want nothing to do with their former bullies then it should not be forced upon them for any reason.

Finding out that their children are bullies can be a confusing, disappointing time for many parents. When your child begins to bully be sure you understand why children bully, how to talk to your child about the specifics of his or her bullying and the best way to provide an alternative path with different outlets for your child in the future.

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