My child is a bully - tips to help parents

Your child is a bully, how do you handle the situation? How do you teach your child that bullying is bad-behaviour? What measures should you take to stop your child from being a bully? Learn tips to control aggression and bullying in children.

Raising a child is one of the most challenging tasks that adults face. It is challenging because their parenting skills are forever being put to test. Take the case of a parent whose child is purportedly bullying other children in school. Complaints pore in galore, and the parents are left bewildered not knowing what to do.

A little voice in their heart says it cannot be true, and another voice in the head wonders how to tackle the problem. Exasperating right! Parents often find themselves in awkward circumstances not knowing what to do. Is there a way for parents to handle their child who is now labelled a bully? Here is a guide that can help you tackle the situation. Learn what to do and what not to do when your child is a bully and get him out of that habit.

In my earlier post I had discussed plausible reasons why a child bullies others. In this post, I will discuss the role of the parent and educators in correcting such behaviour. On the onset, let me remind you, that you have a serious task ahead. Not only is the child's behaviour ruining his reputation, but it is also having an effect on his personality.

If this trend is not nipped right away it will pose greater challenges in the future. You have to get to the bottom of the behaviour because bullies are not born with that kind of disposition, they turn into bullies based on circumstances. There is something in the child's environment that turns him into a bully. He uses bullying as a defence mechanism to shield himself from something more sinister. And your job is to find what that is, remember whatever it is, it could have a damaging effect and scar your child for life. Get to work to stop that from happening.

Pay heed

If you receive complaints about your child's boorish behaviour, from the school or from other parents, do not ignore them. Do not become an overprotective parent and counter them with arguments. This is not the time for your ego. You will cause more harm to your child if you stand up for him, without first verifying the facts first.

Trust the judgement of the teachers and look for ways to correct your child's behaviour. Ask for specific details, of what happened, when and where etc. You love your child, but you are also responsible for him. Keep a cool mind and agree to work with the teachers. You must keep your child's interest in mind. And if he is bullying others, using abusive language and destroying property, your rational mind must see for what it is.


Communication is the key that resolves every major problem. Communication gets you to know of things that you might not be aware of. Listen to the teacher's version, ask questions if you find contradictory statements. However, listen to understand, not to retaliate. Do not question or scold the child in their presence. Thank the teacher(s) for their concern and let them know that you are there to cooperate and that you seek their cooperation. Do not be submissive, you do not have to be – your message should spell out your concern and that you wish to rectify it.

When you get home, sit your child down and let him know that you need to talk. Let him know that you are there to help. Control any signs of anger, it does not work the way communication does. Be direct with the child and tell him that you know there is a problem and that you need answers. Let him know that you are concerned, and ask him to tell you why he did what he did.

You can take remedial action only when you understand why it happened. Ask him pointed questions on how he feels when he bullies others. You will be surprised when he says it makes him feel powerful and in control. You may learn of his insecurities and low self-image. You may learn of horrible things happening to him. Talk till you get answers, it may take days, weeks and sometimes even months before your child can really open up and speak to you about things.

If despite all your efforts you draw nought, seek professional help. Consult a counsellor or a child psychologist. Do not hold back that help, your child needs it.

Coping strategies

The first strategy to adopt is to tell your child that bullying is not acceptable. Though avoid telling him not to bully. The thing is children often do not take too well when told not to do something. The child needs to hear positive messages from you. Instead of telling him not to bully, tell him you will like him to treat others well. The good message gets stored in their subconscious mind. However, this alone will not help, because, for your kid, it has become a power game, so explain, why bullying is bad.

Teach your child to handle specific situations, teach him to be nice and to include everyone in his group. Let him know that you expect him to be nice to everyone. Teach him about respect for others and their property.

If your child's behaviour stems from his need to belong to a 'cool' group in school. Explain why seeking acceptance in a group is a temporary thing, and that acceptance should come from within. Genuine people would like him for who he is and not expect him to behave in a certain way.

Work out solutions based on what the child is facing, and each time reiterate the kind of behaviour your child must emulate. You must learn to come up with strategies, take action where it is required. For instance, if the child is being abused by someone you need to take them to the task, report them to the authorities and stand by your child, showering him with love.

Another strategy that works is getting to your child's conscience, influence him to consider his actions from the perspective of those he is bullying. It can be effective if you make it relatable. Ask the child if he can remember how he felt when his peers treated him badly. How did that make him feel? Make those connections where the child realises how his behaviour must affect others.

Sanitise your home

By sanitise, I mean clean up your own act. Are you inadvertently exposing your child to hostile behaviour? What kind of relationship do you share with your spouse? Is there a lot of anger and aggression in the marriage? Are there constant fights? Is your partner domineering and passive-aggressive?

If any of the above is a regular feature at home then the chances are that it is getting rubbed off on your child and he has picked up all that aggression at home. Have a talk with your partner because their behaviour is influencing your child. They are unconsciously being modelled to be like them. Seek professional help to settle your differences.

It could also be an older sibling, who is bullying your little one. If the stronger of the two is constantly picking on the weaker one, they both stand a chance to carry that behaviour outside the house. The stronger one gains confidence and tries it on others outside the home and the weaker one begins bullying others just to take out his frustration and feel stronger.

Encourage better behaviour at home, it is important to foster a genial environment within the family so siblings learn to respect each other's space and show love and kindness towards each other.

The home should be a reflection of how you want your child to behave in the outside world. Stop the aggression and bullying at home. Encourage a kinship that builds positive bonds. When you make changes at home, you will notice a difference in your child's behaviour.

Hope these tips are of help to you. The next post addresses consequences and discipline.


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