Bullying is a daily occurrence in many children’s lives. No one deserves to be bullied, and the effects of bullying can be devastating. Kids can be tormented for many different reasons, and many different motivations exist for why children become bullies. There is no set of traits that determine which child becomes a bully, and a bully can emerge from many different backgrounds, socio-economic levels, and homes. There are many steps parents can take when they find out their child is participating in the bullying of other children.
The first place a parent needs to investigate after finding out their child is a bully, is at home. Children who become bullies are often exposed to violence or incorrect ways of communicating by their families. When a parent realizes their child is bullying others, taking a real look at yourself and the interactions with your child is the place to start. If you see dysfunction, working on improving the situations in your home can improve the way in which your child associates with other children. Consult a family counselor if necessary. When a child’s family communicates well without violence or abuse, the child will be less likely to become a bully.
Children often bully others who they perceive as “different” from them. As a parent of a bully, you need to look at the way you talk about others. Do you present racist, homophobic, or other negative opinions that can breed hate to your children? If, as a parent, you do participate in these actions, it is important to become educated on differences and prevent sharing untruthful information. Spreading hate and mistrust on to your children can encourage them to become bullies and further spread hateful views. If the belief of acceptance of differences is taught at home, a parent needs to look at their child’s friends and what beliefs are being shared. Children are heavily influenced by their friends. Creating an open, accepting atmosphere at home and rectifying incorrect or hateful information can prevent a child from bullying others based on perceived differences.
Some children bully to have attention or maintain a level of popularity. Pointing out other’s shortcomings to improve their own appearance to peers or to gain attention from other children can be motivations to be cruel. As a parent, helping your child have a healthy self esteem and confidence on their own will help prevent bullying actions. In some cases, a child may not realize how destructive their comments and actions are to the victim of bullying, or a child may not even realize they are bullying others. Strong disciplinary action with adult supervision of the bully can help to prevent further bullying. Making sure a bully understands what they are doing and how those actions are wrong can also put a stop to bullying.
When a parent realizes their child is bullying others, it is important to make sure it is stopped. Bullies are unlikely to stop on their own, and adult intervention is needed. If a child is a bully due to issues at home, it is a parent’s duty to do their best to remedy those situations and create a safe and healthy environment. When bullying stems from peer pressure, a desire to be popular, or another cause, parents still have the obligation to help stop their children from bullying others. Bullying can cause long term damage for both victim and attacker and needs swift action to ensure its end. Parents and children should work with teachers, counselors, and other professionals when additional help is needed to thwart bullying.
NASP Resources Bullying: Facts for Schools and Parents
University of Michigan Health System Why Do Some Kids Become Bullies?
Full Steam Ahead Some Reasons Kids Bully