Is your child the victim – or the bully?

Like most parents, you may not admit that your child is a bully, sowing bad behaviour in school. You may probably launch into the defensive if the school calls or parents complain to you that your child is terrorizing other kids at school. Can you, as a parent, imagine your child pushing other children around, calling them names, forcing them to surrender their lunch money or worse, picking fights with other children their age?

Signs your child might be a bully

You may never know what your child is up to at school unless you receive a call or complaints from the principal or other parents. “No way, not my kid’, you would say and then blame the school’s discipline method or other misbehaving children for your child’s troubles. But what if your child is indeed a bully? How could you tell?

  • Your child gets aggressive towards others. Do you see them hitting their younger siblings? Do they scream at you or at any other adult? You may mistake their tantrums as a sign of dominance but this is an early sign of bullying.
  • Your child gets easily frustrated. Do they easily get upset and throw a massive tantrum when you don’t give them what they want?
  • Your child refuses admit their faults. Bullies blame others for their problems. When they get a bad grade, they blame the teacher for it. When they got into detention for fighting, it’s the other kid’s fault.
  • Your child lacks empathy. The lack of regard for other people’s feelings drives children to push around, tease, coerce and physically assault other children.
  • Your child learns from their peers. Either your child learns how to bully from the mean friends they keep or is forced by them to bully so your child could get accepted by them into their group or wouldn’t be ridiculed by them.
  • You child either has low self-esteem or high self-esteem. If your child has low self-esteem, they try to overcompensate through aggression. If they have high self-esteem, they get proud and arrogant, and their contempt pushes them to bully other children.

What should you do?                                  

It is difficult and devastating for any parent to know their child harms and taunts other children at school. Don’t take yourself hard on this nor consider yourself a bad parent. Take heart that you can help you child ‘unlearn’ bullying and replace them with good manners and positive behaviour:

  • Talk with your child. In a calm and firm tone, ask your child why they did it, how they learn it, and from whom did they learn it. Then explain to your child what they did is not fun.
  • Develop an action plan. Think of ways you can do to help your child change their behaviour.
  • Set clear expectations. Make it clear to your child that you will never tolerate any forms of bad behaviour, especially bullying, at home and in school. Let them know what consequences there are if they bully.
  • Teach compassion, empathy, and respect. Explain to your child why bullying is not fun and why they should respect the feelings of other children. Tell them to put themselves in the shoes of the children they’ve bullied.
  • Support the child who is bullied. Have the courage to meet your child’s victim and the parents.
  • Spend quality time with your child. Give them the daily personal care and attention they need to grow up with love and respect for others.


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