The other day, my child pompously came home and showed me a little toy he had “taken” from one of his peers. While he clutched his prize, and expected me to happy, I sadly realized I was probably raising a bully.
For every bullied child, there’s a bully and every bully has a parent. We all want to believe that we are good parents and our kids are amazing. They can both be true and at the same time, it can also be true that your child is the bully. However, it would be unwise to pin the blame on yourself or your parenting.
We should simply look for signs and tackle them before it gets out of hand. Let’s take a look at the common signs:
- He is easily annoyed if he doesn’t get his way
- He lacks empathy for others
- He is very stubborn and refuses to listen
- He has been getting in trouble at school lately
- The school has reported aggressive behavior on more than one occasion
- He has friends who are aggressive and/or have bullying tendencies
- The environment at home is generally hostile or violent
These are just a few pointers. Not all of them may be true in all cases. It is advisable, thus, that we pay attention to the little things and never turn a blind-eye to behavioral issues or patterns that we/teachers may observe.
- Remain calm. This can be particularly though if you have received a complaint from the school or a parent. No one likes facing an angry parent/teacher but we need to assure them that you are going to take full responsibility in ensuring that your child changes his/her behavior soon.
- Talk to your child. Bullying may stem from numerous underlying issues and getting to the root of the problem is crucial. Ask your child if he is being bullied or if he has friends who are bullies. If this was the first time your child was reported, there could be a strong reason. Sometimes, it is as simple as he not being well. He must have acted out of pure frustration because he was in pain.
- Teach your child how it feels when someone is bullied. Empathy is the key here. Kids that bully do not understand that they are hurting the other kids. Children who comprehend what it feels like to be bullied tend to turn mellow and stop such behavior.
- Make sure your child isn’t acting out because of a disability. Sometimes, kids with limited social skills may have an underlying disability that needs to be recognized. Share this with his/her pediatrician and then talk to an expert, if needed.
- Be very, very clear that aggressive behavior or any other type of bullying is simply unacceptable. Establish that there will be severe consequences if he continues. He should know that you will not back him up if he is caught misbehaving at school.
- Set an example at home and show compassion. Do not be rude, do not engage in violent or hostile behavior in front of your child. Also, make sure you praise your little one when he/she shows empathy.
If, even after repeated attempts and caution, the complaints keep coming, seek the help of a counsellor.
Many people swear by the old notion, once a bully, always a bully. That doesn’t have to be true. Children can be molded and the earlier you do it, the better.