Children bullying each other is not new; most people have encountered a bully at some point in life. Usually parents worry about their child becoming the victim to a bully in school. It is often quite a surprise for parents to find out that their child is the one doing the bullying. As upsetting as it is to discover this behavior, you must stay calm. To successfully help your child, you must go about resolving the problem in an appropriate manner.
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Talk to your child about bullying behavior. Try to find out what is causing your child to act like a bully. The Safe Child Program warns to avoid using blame when talking to your child. Instead, focus on what feelings your child experiences when dealing with others. Jealousy, insecurity, peer pressure and a lack of knowing that bullying is wrong are some of the possible causes of the behavior.
Educate your child on how bullying affects the victim. Talk about what it feels like to be a victim of bullying.
Play role-playing games to teach your child how to interact with others in various situations.
Establish ground rules for your child to follow regarding behavior toward others. Let your child know that you will not accept bullying behavior and will enforce punishments if it continues. Avoid violent punishments such as spanking, which could exacerbate bullying behavior and stick to punishments, such as taking privileges away. KidsHealth suggests making the punishment fit the behavior. For example, if your child bullies another child over the phone, take away phone privileges.
Praise your child for good behavior toward others
Set a good example for your child. The way you behave is a model to what is acceptable behavior to your child. If you use violence, yell at people or relentlessly tease people, your child will think it OK to do the same. Treat others with respect and show compassion and patience when dealing with people in your life.
Spend time with your child each day to strengthen the parent-child bond and encourage open communication. Play a game, read a book or watch a movie together -- whatever activity the two of you enjoy.
Supervise your child’s activity with other children so that you can intervene when bullying behavior presents itself. Watch how your child’s friends behave. If your child is friends with bullies, talk with their parents to notify them of the problem and limit your child’s interactions with those friends. Groups of bullies tend to feed off each other's behavior.
Enroll your child in extracurricular activities. Try to find an activity in which your child enjoys and excels. William Robison, Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at the Forest Institute stated in a 2008 interview on KSMU Public Radio, that “if you can help the kid find an area where they can excel in and they can feel good about themselves, a lot of times bullying behavior ends.”
Work together with your child’s teachers and school counselors. These professionals spend a great deal of time with your child, putting them in the position to catch the bullying behavior as it happens. The school staff views your child’s interactions with other students, giving them the ability to offer you valuable insight into the cause of the bullying problem.
Have your child see a professional therapist if you are not able to solve the bullying problem.