Nobody wants to hear that their child is getting bullied, but then nobody wants to hear that their child is the bully either. But if you hear or suspect that your child is bullying another child, whether physically or verbally, it is important to deal with the problem right away before it escalates.

Bullying not only affects the victim, but it damages the bully’s social development. Bullying can prevent your child from building healthy relationships and affect school, work, and family life. In fact, an estimated one out of four elementary school bullies will have a criminal record by the time they turn 30.

Children most often bully others because:

  • They feel insecure and picking on somebody else makes them feel important and more in control
  • They don’t know that it isn’t acceptable
  • They don’t have the skills to deal with strong emotions like hurt, anger, and frustration
  • They don’t know how to handle conflicts
  • They are copying the behavior of somebody else, possibly a peer or somebody in the family

What Should You Do if Your Child is Bullying Others?

  • Make sure you take bullying seriously, whether it is physical or verbal abuse. Let your child know that it isn’t acceptable to treat others badly and that there will be serious consequences if the behavior continues. Clearly outline what those consequences will be, make sure they are meaningful, and then follow through.
  • Try to figure out the reasons behind the behavior. Learn more about your child’s social environment and friends. Talking to your child’s teachers, principal, guidance counselors, and friends’ parents can help you gain insight. Is your child going through something stressful right now that might be contributing to the behavior?
  • Take a look at your own family life. Is there a sibling or caregiver who often resorts to name-calling, yelling or physical anger?
  • Teach your child healthy and nonviolent ways to respond to conflict.
  • Teach empathy and help your child understand why it is wrong to mistreat others.
  • Don’t just focus on your child’s negative behavior, but recognize good behavior too.
  • Make sure you are setting a good example. Take a look at how you handle conflict and problems. Make sure other caregivers are also setting good examples.
  • Get help. Teachers and other school officials can be very helpful. Your pediatrician is also a good source of information and can direct you to additional help.

For More Information:

Teaching Kids Not to Bully (Kids Health)

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What to Do When Your Child is the Bully

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