If Your Child Bullies Others

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Stay calm

  • Don’t allow your initial response to control your actions.
  • Take action to calm yourself so that you can think rationally.

Be firm

  • Set limits and give clear messages that you love your child but don’t love his or her behaviour – all harassing and bullying must stop.
  • Talk about how harassment affects others.
  • Impose appropriate, non-violent, logical consequences.

Offer help

  • Let your child know you will work with him or her to help find better ways to solve problems.

Get the full picture

  • Help your child explore the reasons for the bullying behaviour and find different ways to interact with others.
  • Check with school staff to get as much specific information as possible.
  • Help your child identify the circumstances under which he or she becomes aggressive.
  • Work to gain an understanding of the skills your child needs to learn to solve problems effectively. It is paramount to affirm and encourage positive behaviours and constructive, problem-solving skills.
  • Let your child know the risk for legal consequences for bullying behaviour.

Have balance

  • Make sure you spend time affirming the qualities and behaviours you appreciate in your child.
  • Don’t just focus on what isn’t working – also notice and comment on what is working.

Encourage talk about feelings

  • Teach your child ways to express feelings that will help build empathy and problem-solving skills.

Practice alternatives

  • Work out different ways to solve problems that do not involve verbal or physical aggression. Practice new responses.
  • Discuss ways to handle situations that have been problems in the past. Make a plan.

Aid reconciliation

  • Help your child work out a way to make it up to the person he or she has bullied.
  • Help your child look at the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Consider what the person who has been bullied would want to happen.

Cooperate with the school

  • Keep in touch with the school staff to find out how your child is doing. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Ask the school to share strategies they teach students for self-control and resolving conflict. Practice and reinforce these strategies with your child.

Monitor TV, violent movies, video games

  • Media violence has been shown to increase aggression in young people.

Reflect

  • Examine your parenting strategies, especially strategies used to discipline.
  • Parenting strategies that are too strict or too lenient have been shown to cause behaviour problems in young people.
  • Remember that you are a powerful role model for your child.

Guidelines for logical consequences

A range of logical consequences that could be applied should meet the following criteria.

  • Reasonable: the consequences fit the inappropriate behaviour.
  • Related: the consequences teach a skill or attitude that will prevent future inappropriate behaviour.
  • Respectful: the consequences must respect the dignity of both the child who is bullied and the child who engages in bullying behaviour.
  • Responsible: the consequences ensure that the child who engages in bullying behaviour is the one who is held accountable for his or her actions.

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