Raising children is difficult. After all, they don’t come with a manual and as a parent you are presented with new situations and obstacles each day. Finding out your child is being bullied can be maddening, disheartening and stressful. Finding out your child is the bully will likely bring on a whole new gamut of emotions. Here are some steps you should take if you find out your child is bullying others.
- Talk with your child. The very first step you should take is to talk with your child. Have them explain the situation to you. Try not to choose a side. You may want to believe your child still wasn’t in the wrong, or you may go to the other end of the spectrum and immediately blame your child. Try to stay open and communicate with your child. If you received a report from your child’s school simply tell your child what you were told and then ask them what is true about the story. Encourage empathy with your child’s victim. Ask them how they would feel if the roles were reversed.
- Correct the situation. Have your child take clear steps to try and improve the situation. If you were contacted by the school or another child’s parents, assure them you will handle the situation promptly. Then, accompany your child either back to the school or to another child’s house and apologize and talk about the situation.
- Try to determine the cause. Sometimes, even if your child admits to bullying, it may be difficult to figure out why they are doing what they are doing. Make sure your child’s bullying isn’t the result of a disability or some other insecurity. Some children may even have a social disability that causes them to act as a bully without them realizing their behavior is unacceptable or hurtful. Finding the cause of the problem is important, because once you do this you can take steps to correct the situation and prevent ongoing problems.
- Be a good role model. Lead by example. Children learn and adopt many of the habits they consistently see at home. Make sure you are living up to the same expectations you set for your child. Spend time with your child and teach them productive, non-violent or non-hurtful ways handle their feelings. Reward your child’s appropriate behavior. Don’t just punish them when they do something wrong – make sure they know you are also paying attention and acknowledging their good behavior.
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