If a child in your classroom is being bullied or is a bully, it may be hard to know how to discipline them. You can punish students all you want, but a lot of times it doesn’t do any good. Many teachers may be at their wits end not knowing how to properly discipline a bully. In those situations, you have to better understand the bully and why they’re acting out in the first place.
I’ve always been told that when children fight, it’s best to avoid stepping in to discipline them. This is supposed to allow children to work out their problems on their own. In my experience, however, this isn’t the case. Instead, it gives children a chance to bully each other without fear of discipline. In my opinion, that’s simply unacceptable.
When it comes to discipline, I’m lucky enough to teach a small classroom of younger kids. Because of this, it’s easy for me to spot when a bully start acting out. I won’t step in and discipline every tiny argument, but as soon as name calling, hitting, or anything else that visibly upsets a child starts, its time to put a stop to the situation.
Every situation involving a bully is different and should be treated as such. I have learned a great tip when it comes to discipline though, and that’s never to give the bully attention. For example, if a bully hits another child, your number one priority should be to make sure the child who got hurt is okay, not to discipline the other student. Tell the bully to go sit in the hallway, office, time out, whatever your school may have. Sit down and talk to the victim first. Ask them to explain what happened while the bully sits elsewhere. Only once you’re done taking care of the victim should you discipline the bully.
This technique helps to teach the bully that acting out won’t give them attention, even the negative attention of discipline. Instead, they get the exact opposite.
Not all bullies act out for attention though. Some are simply frustrated with situations that may or may not have to do with the person they’re bullying. This is especially true with children in elementary school. When this is the case, it’s important to discipline them by separating the bully from their classmates and giving them a chance to cool down. Once they’re calm, an adult should sit down and try to figure out what the root of the problem is. Only then can you decide if further discipline is needed.
Bullies rarely torment others for no reason. It’s doubtful that a kid has just decided to act like a jerk for no reason. While teaching is our primary job, sometimes it becomes teachers responsibilities to get to the bottom of the problem. A bully still need discipline, but if you can get to the root of the problem, you’ll help everyone get alone much better.
If bullying is a problem with younger children, it’s easy to sit down with them and explain why it isn’t tolerated. Discipline by force or punishment isn’t always needed. Instead, ask the bully how they would feel if someone came up to them and started making fun of the way they looked, or calling them bad names. It’s very possible that they’re acting out to feel better about themselves, so many times they understand how it feels to be the reject. They may not want to cause another child pain, they simply do so to make sure they’re not the ones being taunted. If that’s the case, just knowing that they hurt someone may be discipline enough.
If bullying is still a major problem in your classroom, sitting your children down and explaining to them how to act when they’re upset is a great idea. Many young children don’t know how to express feelings of frustration. Instead of hitting or name calling, teach them to speak up. They can say “You’re making me mad!” and that will be an automatic cue for the children to stop, step back, and handle the situation better. This will make teachers jobs much easier since they’ll no longer have to discipline someone every few seconds.
If the situation still fails, try finding a common ground between the bully and the victim. Maybe these students share the same hobby, like the same music, or even watch the same show. Friendships can quickly form over common interests. Friendship is much stronger than hate and soon the children will forget their differences and be more worried about playing together.