Is My Child a Bully?
Last year my son earned the title of "bully". It was an ugly title that I didn't want him to have and though we did everything we could to help him shed it, every time he seemed to have the least bit of trouble, off to the principal's office he would go.
I briefly wrote about how he came to be known as a bully last week. What Shorty had done was try to stand up for others when he thought they needed help. By doing so, he turned the tables on himself and became known among his classmates as the bully in class. He honestly thought that by giving the schoolyard bullies a taste of their own medicine he would be victorious in stopping them from ruining recess for others. However, it backfired when some kids wouldn't play with him anymore, others found him an easy mark to blame things on, and teachers had their eyes on him to the point that no matter what he did or said he couldn't win.
You find yourself in a curious position when your child is the bully. You wonder what could be going on that would make your kid be mean to someone else, especially since you've worked hard to do everything right. While I knew that Shorty was trying to be a good kid, I knew that he had done wrong by becoming the recess vigilante. He got in trouble while the real troublemakers got away with everything.
Whether you find yourself with a child like Shorty who just needed a little redirection when it came to standing up for others or you are the parent of a child who bullies, there are a few things you must do to put your child back on the right track.
The moment I discovered that Shorty was getting in trouble at school for being mean to other kids I sat him down to have a long and serious talk. It’s important to talk to your child and discover what problems there might be at school. You can’t help your child, advocate for them, or even properly discipline them without knowing what is happening to them when you can’t be there.
Once you’ve established the problems, make sure your child knows that bullying is not acceptable in any form. Not verbally or physically. Address aggressive behavior as it happens and reiterate that it is not acceptable and that you won’t allow it.
It’s important to meet with the teachers and principal and work with them to find a solution to the problem. Find a reasonable consequence for the behavior and stick to it. Communication is a must. Often a school counselor can step in to talk to your child at school to diffuse problems immediately.
If you discover that your child is running with a bad crowd of kids, it’s your job to help them see the bullying attitudes that their “friends” carry and how that attitude hurts others.
You can also help your child by getting them involved in extracurricular activities that will introduce them to potential new friends. Sports and volunteer activities can help a child learn compassion, restraint and how to be a part of a team.
It’s important for your child to learn to find other ways to deal with tough situations. Talk out some potential situations that would cause them to bully someone else and see if they can discover a different way of dealing with things.
How would you react if you discovered your child was being labeled a bully? What would you do to help them?