What to do when your child bullies others

(Design: Jordan News)
If you got a call from the school, a call from other parents, or have even seen with your own eyes that your child is bullying others, it is time to stop turning a blind eye to the fact that your child has a serious problem. اضافة اعلان

Many parents might undermine, deny, or even get defensive about the fact that their child is bullying others, but they should realize that their child’s actions are hurtful to others and, even more importantly, to themselves, and that by turning a blind eye they are hurting their child.

Studies show that children who bully are at greater risk of substance abuse, of performing poorly in school, and of becoming involved in criminal activity.

While it may be disconcerting to learn that your child is bullying others, and it is especially unsettling if you learn that the bullying is severe, the fact remains that under certain circumstances, even the most well-mannered child can somehow engage in bullying. Children bully for a variety of reasons, and the sooner you take action, the more likely you are to see change in your child’s behavior.

Why do children bully?

Bullying can be the product of many different reasons and circumstances that a child might be going through. Sometimes children bully others because of peer pressure, because of having difficulty saying no, wanting to fit in, or out of the fear that they might also be bullied if they do not participate in the bullying. Another reason could be that a child was the victim of bullying, which then causes them to become hostile toward others.
Children bully for a variety of reasons, and the sooner you take action the more likely you are to see change in your child’s behavior.
Some children have a serious issue with impulsivity or anger management, while others may have an official diagnosis of a conduct disorder that makes them more prone to bullying others. Children with conduct disorders lack the ability to empathize with the victim; this may also be true for young children who are not aware of how their behavior affects others. Another reason for bullying could be a child’s failure to gain social attention from their peers.

Most importantly, we are all products of our own environment, so a child who comes from an abusive home or might be bullied by a parent, a sibling, or any other family member may try to regain some sense of power and control by bullying those he feels are weaker than them. Some children may come from families where the adults are overly lenient or where there is low parental involvement in their lives.

Regardless of why a child bullies others, it is important that they be held accountable for their actions. Any negative behavior will only continue until a child admits they are wrong, takes responsibility, and is guided to change their behavior.

Here are several ways in which you can help a child do so.

Take immediate action

As soon as you learn that your child is bullying another, it is imperative that you take immediate action. Talk with your child in a calm yet firm manner, making it clear that bullying will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences for negative actions, whilst showing the child how concerned you are about their poor choices. You can even demonstrate good behavior by reaching out to the parents of the child that was bullied and empathizing with them for the hurt that was caused by your child, then encourage your child to do the same with the person they bullied.

Remember, if your child sees you reacting to their bullying in a passive manner, or if you pass on the idea that it might simply be a phase that they are going through or that it is not that serious and it was simply your child teasing others, like all kids do, you are setting your child up for many serious problems later in life.

Determine the root cause

As mentioned earlier, bullying can be the product of a variety of reasons, and it is extremely important that you pinpoint the reason your child resorts to bullying. You must create a safe environment that enables your child to openly communicate their thoughts and feelings to you. For example, if your child had been a victim of bullying, they will have to confront the past experience, learn to cope with it, and understand that causing pain to others because someone has caused pain to them is not the way to heal or solve any past trauma.

On the other hand, if your child is bullying others to become popular or to be accepted by a certain clique, you need to address the importance of creating healthy friendships and learning how to resist and say no to peer pressure. Sometimes you have to help your child create friendships; invite some friends over that you know will have a positive influence on your child. This is by no means a way for you to force your child to become friends with certain people, as ultimately the choice is their own, but you can simply facilitate healthy friendships by taking the initiative. The most important thing is for your child to know that they have your support and that you will help them change their behavior.
... It is extremely important that you pinpoint the reason your child resorts to bullying.
Follow through with meaningful consequences

You might have heard of the phrase “do not do the crime, if you cannot do the time”; this is especially true when it comes to discipline. It is important that your child understands that there is no excuse for bullying.

Many children will initially refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Do not let them get away with it. While discussing the importance of owning up to one’s mistakes, let the child know that they will lose certain privileges as a result of the poor choice they made.

It is vital that you remain consistent and meaningful with the consequences that you choose to enforce. For example, if you find out that your child has bullied someone online, it is only fair that they have their electronics taken away for a certain amount of time.

According to clinical psychologist Kristin Carothers, “if you remove a privilege for too long, it may actually lose validity…. You want to make it so that the time within which punishment happens and the amount of time for which it happens are really balanced to have the biggest effect.”

Once your child has regained privileges, it is important to have a period of reflection in which they plan how they are going to repair their mistake. This could take many forms, such as apologizing in person, writing a letter, drawing a sorry card, baking cookies, or repairing or replacing any broken items with their own money.

Explain to your child that due to their behavior, you will be increasing your level of monitoring and supervision in order to help them stay on the right track. Lastly, it is important that you support the school’s decision on consequence, no matter how hard it is. This will teach your child the valuable lesson that there are consequences for poor choices that mom and dad cannot rescue them from. Attempting to relieve the pain of consequence is the worst decision you can possibly make.

Avoid shaming and putting labels

Contrary to popular belief, labeling a child as a “bully” or a “bad kid” will only have negative effects and will not change anything in their behavior. Remember, labeling is not a real consequence nor a useful discipline strategy and will only send the message that you don’t expect the behavior to change. Shaming is a form of bullying, and it is never the answer.

If you feel that your child has an issue bigger than you might have expected and things are not going in the right direction even after you have tried different strategies, seek professional help. Behavior modification through cognitive behavioral therapy will teach your child to confront and change destructive or negative thoughts, accept responsibility, develop guilt, improve self-esteem, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and learn how to form healthy and cohesive relationships. In the end, your goal as a parent should be to raise a kind and empathetic child capable of developing a strong personality without hurting others along the way.

Read more Education
Jordan News