How to correct your child's bullying behaviour - Part 3

How to discipline and a correct a child who is bullying other children? What are the best forms of punishment to be used to discipline bullies? Learn important lessons on how to steer your child from being a bully to a well-mannered, loveable kid.

In my previous posts I had discussed why a child turns into a bully and provided tips on handling a bully. Some children turn aggressive and hostile towards their peers. They also become destructive and disruptive and difficult to handle. Such children are bullies.

Once you have verified that your child is indeed bullying others and have determined the reasons behind his lousy behaviour your next steps should be to correct his behaviour and establish rules. There is no mention of any consequences in my previous posts, and it is not because I don't recommend them. You first need to be sure of what is happening and why it is happening. Consequences and discipline will follow.

Bullying happens because of a behavioural problem. Some reasons and circumstances lead to bullying, but that still doesn't make it right. The child must learn that there is no excuse for bad behaviour. He may have his reasons, but what is wrong remains wrong.

Consequences should be relevant

Punishment and discipline are an important part of growing up, but the stress should be on lessons and not drive fear into the child. Your aim must be to discipline without threat and intimidation. You do not want to scare the child into submission. Doing the latter may get you temporary results, but one day, the child will rebel.

Discipline should be about correcting mistakes and making the child realise that he did wrong. He will learn nothing from the shouting and the beating if you choose that route to discipline. As a parent, your goal must be to educate the child about right and wrong values.

Punishments for lousy behaviour must come with a lesson; the child must learn that there will be consequences each time he is caught bullying. Remember, that it's never easy to break a habit and a child who has got into the habit of bullying will take some time to get out of it. It won't happen overnight, and you will have to deal with it.

Make punishments count

You come to know that your child is at it again; your first reaction would be to become angry. No parent likes getting those notes and calls from school, mentioning that the child's been a bully again. Make the punishment effective – don't allow the child to attend the birthday party that he has been invited to or stop him from going out to play that evening.

Take away privileges – no favourite television show, no Netflix, no internet or no phone, that kind of stuff. Don't put a permanent ban on the thing; it should serve as a punishment. Have an understanding that with good behaviour, the child can get back those privileges.

Do not take away privileges for too long because that can boomerang. The child gives up on trying to be friendly and well-behaved because he thinks that good behaviour doesn't get him back the privileges, so he may as well do what gives him pleasure. The child should see that you notice when he's been good, and you are fair and reasonable. How you react also impacts your child's behaviour. Create a balance for best results.

Set things right

Disciplining is not just about making your child see his mistakes and rectify them; it is also about making amends and mending broken fences. You are teaching your child not to be a bully, which is a good thing to do. Concentrate also on him patching up with those he had bullied.

A sorry can go a long way. Show your child the way to own his mistakes and apologise to those he had offended. Depending on the child's age, let your child choose how to say sorry. You must encourage your child to become friends or at least be cordial to those who he was once bullying. Let him call them over for a game. You teach your child valuable lessons in life, that you do not become small by admitting to your mistake and that it's nice to be kind to people.

It is essential that you take control and make these things happen. It is crucial that the other kids heal too. They would have been hurt and tormented, and they also need to put all the bad memories behind them. It is essential, trust me.

Be vigilant

Always be in the know of what's happening. It is your responsibility to know what's going on in your child's world. You don't have to intrude into his space, but you don't have to let everything go unnoticed either. When the teacher approaches you with a complaint about your child's behaviour, take notice. It would be a good move to work with the teacher on this so that they can notify you of any incidents.

Being vigilant doesn't mean only looking out for red flags, also learn to recognise good behaviour and appreciate it. You don't want to be that parent who only finds fault, show your child that you love and appreciate his good qualities. Praise is a good antidote when you're struggling to get your child to behave. Use every opportunity to reinforce the faith you have in your child. It strengthens the parent-child bond and reassures the child. Sometimes all a child needs are recognition and love. Never withhold either from him.

Cyber bullying happens too

Cyberbullying is for real, and it is a big threat. Speak to your child about it and also the ugly side of cyberbullying. Quote real incidents that have ended tragically. Suicides have happened because of cyber bullies. Make your child aware of the repercussions. What people (children) don't realise is that cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint that can land them in trouble if things go awry.

Stay connected

The parent-child bond is often just a superficial connection, and many parents do not share a meaningful relationship. For a parent-child bond to be worthwhile, there must be regular interactions between the parent and the child. Spending quality time with the child is the key to building a valuable relationship with the child. Communication is important; it open doors to a whole new world.

By remaining connected with their child through communication and time, the parent strengthens the relationship. There is so much that the child and parent learn through all of this. Children learn beneficial lessons of life, and they learn that their parents are there to listen to them, not as someone who enforces rules and regulations, but someone who is also a friend.

Parents, on the other hand, get a first-hand insight into what is going on in their child's world. They become aware of their child's fears, anxieties, hopes, likes, dislikes and friends etc. Conversations open up doors to confined spaces that often remain in the recess of a child's mind. Parents who connect with their child are better able to recognise signs of trouble, early on. Why are parents often the lasts one to know of their child's sexuality? It is because communication is missing.

Talk to your child every day, and I mean real conversations, not just about studies and food. Have open-ended questions that will elicit a response. You have to make that effort to get your child to talk to you, and the early on you start, the more comfortable the ride.

When a parent shows interest in the child's life, with questions about what happened in school today or how was the ride back home, the child is more likely to share even the uncomfortable details with the parent. And as adults, you can pick up signs when things aren't okay.

Don't be judgemental

You will run into a wall if all conversations end up with you judging the child. Your role is to be a guide and mentor in a non-critical way. Explain why aggression is bad if it pops up in the conversation. Your child must feel that you care enough to advise.

Get help

Finally, if all your efforts fail and you find yourself making no progress, it is time to seek professional help. There is no shame in setting an appointment with a counsellor or a child psychiatrist. Sometimes a therapist is better able to analyse the problem and guide the child. Hope the valuable lessons on correcting boorish behaviour in children with discipline and guidance are of help to you.

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