• What if my Child is a Bully?

    Yourgut instinct is right; bullying must be taken seriously. There can beserious short- and long-term consequences for everyone involved, notjust the victim of bullying.

    The Committee for Children reports that:

    • Childrenwho bully are more likely to experience a decline in their peer groupstatus, which becomes more and more important in your child's socialdevelopment as they enter the teen years; and

    • Childrenwho bully and continue this behavior as adults have greater difficultydeveloping and maintaining positive relationships.
    It can bedifficult to hear that your child is bullying others, but denialwon�t help the situation. Bullying is often a result of unhappiness,low self-esteem, and emotional insecurity. The first step is to talkwith your child about what you have heard. KidsHealth recommends a fewquestions to ask your child that might help get the conversationstarted and help you understand the situation so you can takeappropriate action:
    • How are things going at school and at home?
    • Are you being bullied?
    • Do you get along with other kids at school?
    • How do you treat other children?
    • What do you think about being considered a bully?
    Signs that My Child Is a Bully

    Giventhe short- and long-term consequences not only for victims but for thebullies as well, it is important to keep an eye out for signs that yourchild may be bullying others. The Committee for Children reports that achild who bullies may exhibit some of the following behaviors:
    • Frequent name-calling (describing others as �wimps� or �jerks�);
    • Regular bragging;
    • A need to always get his own way;
    • Spending a lot of time with younger or less powerful kids;
    • A lack of empathy for others; and
    • A defiant or hostile attitude (easily takes offense).
    Tips to Help Your Child Stop Bullying

    • Schedule an appointment to talk with school staffsuch as your child�s teacher(s) and the school counselor. Schoolstaff that work with your child every day may be able to help youunderstand why your child is bullying and provide you with some toolsto work with your child.

    • Explain to your child that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.Stop any show of aggression you see, and talk about other ways yourchild can deal with the situation. Establish appropriate consequencesfor her actions such as taking away privileges and allowing your childto earn them back with appropriate behavior.

    • Examine behavior and interactions in your own home. Isthere something at home that is encouraging this type of behavior suchas violent media of some kind in the form of video games, television ormovies? Are there interactions that may lower your child�sself-esteem such as constant teasing or taunting by a sibling? When youdiscipline your child, are you focusing on how the behavior isunacceptable rather than your child?

    • Talk with your child about who his friends are and what they do together. Peerscan be very influential, especially for teens. If your child is hangingaround with kids who bully and encourage bullying behavior, you maywant talk with him about getting involved in activities that will helphim make other friends.

    • Talk with the parents of your child�s peers about bullying. Discuss your concerns and what you can do together to change the behavior of your children.

    • Model respect, kindness and empathy. You are your child�s role model and she will learn to treat others with respect by watching you.

    • Consider talking to your child�s pediatrician about your child�s behavior.They may have some tips and they may be able to refer you to a mentalhealth clinician that will be helpful in understanding and resolvingthe problem.

    • Be realistic. Yourchild�s behavior will not change over night. When you are talkingwith your child, try to focus on how the behavior is unacceptable, notyour child, and show your support for your child with praise forappropriate behavior.

    • Continue to work and communicate with school staff as long as it takes. Theyshould be your allies; working with you to not only put an end to yourchild�s bullying, but also to prevent any bullying in the school.
    Thisinformation was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, One Tough Job Manager, andreviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children�s TrustFund.