How to Help a Child That Bullies
No one wants that message from school saying that their child was picking on others or displaying some variety of bullying behavior. But the next steps you take are crucial for your child’s development. How can you help a child that bullies?
A good first step is to talk through the situation with your child. This can help you determine the root of the behavior your child has been exhibiting as well as giving them a chance to explain their point of view.
Help your child understand that no matter the reason behind the bullying behavior, this was a choice they made that hurt others and they are responsible for their actions.
You might continue the discussion by talking through scenarios that might bring up similar issues and guiding your child through the appropriate response. Encourage your child to think of the other person and how they would want to be treated.
After talking through the situation with your child and discouraging the behavior they chose, following through with the schools’ policies is an important step.
This might be a hard one for you as the parent/ guardian, but when you align yourself with the school, it shows your child that you will not tolerate the behaviors and will not allow them to avoid the consequences of their actions. This is a vital lesson for them to learn.
You may implement other consequences at home depending on the situation.
An example may be if your child was involved in cyberbullying, they lose phone or computer privileges. Something to be aware of though is keeping the consequence to scale of the behavior you are dealing with.
“If you remove a privilege for too long, it may actually lose validity,” says Kristin Carothers, PhD, a clinical psychologist. “The kid’s like, ‘ OK, well, I can never get it back, so I’m just not going to try.’ You want to make it so that the time within which the punishment happens and the amount of time for which it happens are really balanced to have the biggest effect.”
The next step is to learn new behaviors or skills that will encourage your child to respond to situations in an appropriate manner.
Do they need help with anger management, self-esteem, impulse control?
Teaching your child to see things from another person’s perspective can make a big difference. How would they feel if it had been them being bullied?
Encourage building friendship skills, social-emotional skills, and especially empathy.
Positive reinforcement can be such a powerful tool. Catch your child being good and make sure to note it and praise them for it.
Remember! You are one of your child’s greatest examples. Be an upstander and show them how they can be one too.