What to do if your child is being a bully

As a parent, you dread the day you receive news that your child is being bullied at school. But what if you hear that your child is the one doing the bullying? If you suspect your child of either verbally or physically abusing other children, the tips below could help you set things right before any lasting damage has been done. 

Tip #1: Get all sides of the story

Is someone accusing your child of bullying? Don’t act until you have heard all sides of the story.

We know that kids can sometimes make up stories, and we also know situations involving people’s children can become highly emotional, quickly. On the other hand, as parents we like to think the best of our kids, and it’s sometimes hard to see or acknowledge that they may not be so innocent. That’s why it’s often best to go to an impartial source, like a teacher, to find out what’s been happening when you’re not around.

Tip #2: Be firm, not furious

If you know or suspect your child is being a bully, sit down together and have an open, honest conversation. Although you’ll likely feel angry, try to remain calm. There’s nothing like an angry parent to get a child to shut down and turn off.

Begin by asking them to explain why they’re doing it. If they say they don’t know, ask questions to find out what is going on inside your child’s head. In most cases, kids who are bullying others suffer from low self-esteem, are being bullied themselves, or are having trouble keeping up in school.

Tip #3: Help your child to stop being a bully

First of all, don’t blame yourself. Kids will be kids, and learning how to handle themselves appropriately in social situations like the school play yard is part of growing up. Now that you know what’s been going on, it’s time to address the problem and teach your child appropriate behaviour. Don’t allow them to go through life as a bully – help them understand right from wrong.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your child proper ways to handle their interactions with other children. Work together to develop ways to handle different social situations at school. Role play is a very effective tool to motivate your child to empathise with the child(ren) that they have bullied. Find out whether there are any local groups or initiatives that can help you work with your child on their behaviour. Work with the school to find a solution that will help create a way forward for all children involved.