No one wants to admit the possibility that their child could be a bully. We have preconceived notions of who bullies are and what their parents must be like. We assume that the parents of a bully must either be bullies themselves or negligent. But that is rarely the case.
Let us begin by impartially accepting that a bully is not necessarily the product of bad parenting. Bullying behavior by your child does not make you a bad parent, but it does mean that you will have to take steps to correct their behavior.
Most parents are genuinely shocked to discover their child is bullying others. Bullies can be socially savvy and seem like healthy, well-functioning individuals. They are often popular and outgoing. The very fact of their popularity or ability at something like athletics, can lead them to feel superior to those around them. Bullying stems from a desire to attain and maintain control over others.
Discovering and dealing with bullying is just as vitally important to the well-being of your own child as it is to those he or she is bullying. Research shows that bullies are significantly more likely to be depressed, struggle in school, go to prison, abuse drugs and alcohol, and act violently throughout their lives. When a bully gets away with bullying, they typically don’t grow out of it, but develop a life-long habit of abusing others.
5 Signs that your child might bully others
- They refuse to take responsibility for their actions
Bullies tend to focus blame on others instead of themselves. They like to justify their behavior by blaming it on something that has been done to them, or by making excuses based on something the victim may have said or done. They will rarely, if ever, admit that they are in the wrong in any situation.
- They lack empathy
One of the things that enables a bully to manipulate and dominate another person so effectively is a lack of compassion or regard for the feelings of another person. They are unable to look at a situation from a perspective other than their own.
If you think your child might lack a sense of empathy, talk to them about the importance of respecting other people’s feelings. You may even consider having your child volunteer with a homeless shelter or another organization that helps people going through difficult life circumstances. Debrief your teen about what they observe while volunteering. Encourage them to listen to people’s stories.
Reading literature is another great way for children to learn emotional intelligence. It enables them to see another perspective and exposes them to the emotional life of the character.
- They need to be in control
Bullying is an attempt, through word or action, to enforce control over another person. Bullies are very aware of the social hierarchy of their schools, and they manipulate and dominate others to maintain or increase their social status.
The intent is for the other person to do exactly what the bully wants. When the other person refuses to be controlled by the bully, the bully will most likely become angry and frustrated.
- They have been victims of bullying
Sometimes victims will turn to bullying in an attempt to regain some of the self-confidence they lost through being bullied. They may think that bullying is the only way to get ahead in the social climate of their school. It is essential for parents of victims to let their children know that bullying is never acceptable behavior.
- They are proud and/or arrogant
While we tend to think of bullies as people with low self-esteem who are trying to overcompensate through aggression, most bullies actually have high self-esteem. It is contempt for the other person that leads them to attack, not defensiveness.
We all want our kids to feel good about themselves, but there is a danger that some will take their opinions of themselves too far and believe that they are better than their peers. Make sure when you build up your child, you include conversations about value and respect for other people. Also, make sure you model this for your children in your own interactions with people. Be aware that they learn just as much from what you do as from what you say. If in doubt of how your children perceive these interactions, ask them.
Read more on the do’s and don’ts if your child is the bully.
Just Say YES Bullying Prevention Speakers
More Just Say YES Bullying Articles:
- Just Say YES Bullying Prevention Programs
- Brutal Boys vs. Mean Girls
- What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied
- 6 Steps on How to End Bullying
- Is My Child Being Bullied?
- How to Build a Bully-Free School
- Is That Really Bullying?
- Could My Child be a Bully?
- Bullying and the Bystander
- Minimizing the Target – How to Not be a Target for Bullying