It is one of the hardest questions a parent can ask themselves about their child. The child that they watched grow from a helpless little baby into what they hoped would be a good, kind person.
If your child is a bully, you can help them. Admitting that they are is halfway there to helping them. The worst thing you can do for your child is denying it and not confronting it. It can be very difficult identifying if your child is a bully and there is no rule – but keeping your eye out for a combination of things might be the best way to go.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is a broad term that used to be used mainly for kids physically hurting other kids or stealing their snacks or lunch money. As times moved on and people became more conscious of the long term effects of kids being bullied, and cyber bullying came into play as well, bullying is now taken very seriously by schools and parents alike.
According to StopBullying.gov, bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is usually repeated over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
How do you know if your child might be a bully?
- If you notice that your child is unusually aggressive
- Is fine with the idea of violence
- Harms animals
- Has friends who are mean
- Laughs at other people’s discomfort, misfortune or pain/ Lacks empathy, sympathy and compassion
- Is obsessed with social status and being popular
- Is particularly hurtful to their siblings
- Is particularly controlling and manipulative – it’s their way or no way
Understanding why your child might be a bully.
- They might be very insecure about themselves and to not show their vulnerability, lash out at others.
- They might be bullied themselves – some bullies are bullied at home. They can either be copying the behaviour because they think it’s normal, or they are regaining the control they lack when they are being bullied.
- They want to be popular with the wrong kids – sometimes kids bully when they want to fit in with a certain crowd, or if they are pressured by their peers
- It is just in their nature.
What do you do if you think your child is a bully?
- Talk to your child and explain their behaviour and why it is upsetting and not right, and try to find out why they are behaving the way they are
- If there is a school councillor or your paediatrician it might be worth asking them for advice
- Take your child to a therapist who will help in properly diagnosing your child if they have a behavioural issue
- Role playing encourages your child to handle their reactions to certain situations in different ways
- Be realistic – altering a person’s behaviour does not happen overnight, patience and perseverance is essential. Support from friends and family will also help you get through a potentially rough time.