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Help & Information

Is My Child Bullying Others?

No one wants to admit the possibility that their child is capable of bullying behaviour and most parents will think ‘no way, not my child’. But every child is capable of bullying behaviour and if you find out your child is bullying someone at school, try not to blame yourself and jump on the defense. Instead, realise that how you handle your child’s bullying behaviour is just as critical as your child’s bullying itself. Just take a deep breath, gather details about what exactly transpired and let the school know that you want to work together for a positive outcome.

What To Do If Your Child Is Displaying Bullying Behaviour

Acknowledge the Behaviour

Sit down with your child, speak in a calm, firm tone and ask them what happened and why they behaved a certain way. Be a good listener and avoid blame. Children and young people need to understand that it’s okay to admit they made a mistake.

Calmly ask questions to help them understand how their behaviour affects others, such as: Do you feel what you did was respectful? ‘Do you realise it hurt someone? Would you want someone to treat you in that way?” Explain the importance of treating people fairly and with kindness and respect.

Consequences

Help your child understand that they are accountable for their actions. Bullying is unacceptable behaviour and it is important your child understands this. Depending on the circumstances, you can eliminate something your child enjoys so the consequence will be significant, such as, taking away their mobile phone for a period of time, removing or reducing TV or video game time, or preventing participation in a social outing. Talk to them about how it would feel like to be in the other person’s shoes to ensure they fully understand the impact their behaviour has had.

Working With the School

Situations like this work best when school staff see that parents sincerely want to work with them to improve the situation. Although bullying is an emotive issue, try to remain calm and not become angry and defensive. Find out exactly what your child has been doing and for how long. School staff spend a lot of time with their pupils and are often able to see how they interact with their peers, notice patterns in behaviour and recognise classroom dynamics.

Depending on the severity of the bullying issue, the school may issue a sanction against your child, such as:

  • A warning
  • Detention
  • Permanent or Temporary Exclusion

If the incident involves violence, abuse or demands for money, then the Police may be involved.

Request a copy of the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy as this will explain how the school will deal with the issue and what help will be given.

Work with the school to help your child learn behaviours that are constructive. Find out if counselling or other support is available to help and encourage your child to change their behaviour and stop bullying. Keep in regular contact with the school to ensure your child’s behaviour improves.

Helping the Child Who Displays Bullying Behaviour

There is a lot that a parent can do to help their child stop bullying others. By taking immediate action, you can help your child learn new ways of managing their feelings, peer pressure and conflict with others. Talk to them and try to find out why your child has been bullying others. Try to understand the reason for your child’s behaviour. Maybe they have trouble managing strong emotions such as anger or frustration or has there been a recent change or disruption in your child’s life? Is your child being bullied as well?

  • Reassure your child you still love them and that they are not a bad person. It’s their behaviour you don’t like and you will help them change this and correct the situation. Ask them how they think the bullying could stop. What do they think has to change in order for them to change?
  • Listen to what others have to say about your child’s behaviour. Then, listen to your child’s side of the story. Try to understand the reason for your child’s behaviour. Is your child being bullied? Are their friends bullying others?
  • Teach them kindness and empathy. Explain that bullying causes physical, psychological and emotional harm to others and can have long-lasting effects. It is important they realise the harm their behaviour can cause
  • Work with your child to find a way for them to make amends for their bullying behaviour. Talk to them about how it must feel to be bullied. Discuss how they can apologise to those they have hurt
  • Try to find out if there is something in particular bothering your child and help them work through it
  • Develop clear and consistent rules within your family for your child’s behaviour. Praise and reinforce your child for following the rules and use non-physical, non-hostile consequences if they break them
  • Set boundaries and limits. If your child shows any sign of aggressive behaviour, stop it immediately. Help your child find other non-aggressive ways of reacting
  • Teach your child the difference between assertiveness and aggression
  • Talk to your child’s school and let them know your child is making an effort to change his or her behaviour. They may have some helpful suggestions
  • Explain to your child that other children may try and provoke a person – especially one who is trying to change. If this happens, encourage your child not to respond aggressively and to walk away

Build Social and Emotional Skills

It is important that parents raise children who understand that there are all different kinds of people and it is in no way acceptable to isolate or hurt anyone for any reason. Empower your child to build her skills for resolving conflicts and managing situations. Social and emotional learning includes self-awareness, self-management, resilience, social skills and responsible decision-making. Look for after-school programmes and extra-curricular activities that can provide new settings to develop ways to build positive relationships. Improving these skills now, while your child is in school will provide lifelong skills.

Whether your child is being bullied or is bullying someone, connecting with a counsellor may help your child’s healing process. We know the thought of going to a counsellor may worry your child at first. If that happens, talk your child through the different options for resources and remind them that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. In fact, it builds a stronger sense of self.

Through fostering open and honest conversations about bullying behaviour with your child, you will instill confidence in them, empowering them to stand strong for themselves and others and to trust you to help them along the way.

Young children may struggle to talk about emotions and feelings that are part of everyday life. Using books and stories can always help with this. Wonderfully written by Author, Clare Luther and aimed at children aged 3 – 8 years old, Head 2 Heart Books  are beautifully illustrated rhyming books that are relatable and well researched. Each story will help children explore their thoughts and feelings, offering them useful ways to think their emotions through and get conversations started.

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Need to talk?

If you are being bullied or are concerned about someone who is, you can receive help and support from one of our trained Mentors through our e-mentoring service.

If you would like a Mentor to email you, please contact: mentorsonline@bulliesout.com

If you would rather speak to someone over the telephone, you can call Childline on: 0800 1111

For any community-related issues, such as anti-social behaviour, we would suggest contacting your landlord, the local police or your local environmental health department (where applicable), as we are unable to deal with these types of complaints.