This post first appeared on Momaha.com.
It can be hard to admit that your child is bullying others. But when you recognize this type of behavior in your child, it’s important to take action right away.
Who are the bullies?
Bullies want to control people, and they quickly learn that violence or the fear of violence will allow them to do that. Bullying takes many forms, including threats, violence, intimidation, destruction of property and theft.
Why does my child choose to be a bully?
- A bully wants control over another person. With control comes power.
- A bully doesn’t know how to get attention in positive and acceptable ways. That’s why he or she resorts to force.
- A bully is antisocial. He or she is rude and hostile on purpose, and thinks bullying is a cruel but fun game.
- A bully feels justified in picking on others and is probably even proud of it. In the bully’s mind, weaker or smaller kids deserve to be picked on. Picking on someone else does not necessarily make bullies feel better about themselves. Contrary to belief, bullies usually have high opinions of themselves.
- A bully learned how to bully. A family that uses force or aggression for punishments or to settle relationship problems can set an example that bullying is an acceptable way for a person to get what he or she wants. When toddlers learn that temper tantrums get results, it sets the stage for possible bullying later in childhood.
Role-playing and writing or drawing the situation from different perspectives is an excellent way to teach positive social skills and combat bullying behavior.
How to Role-Play
When teaching any social skill, it’s important to practice with your child. Explain to your child that you will pretend to be another person and that he or she should use the steps of the skill you’ve just taught as if it were a real-life situation. When a practice is done, you can tell your child what he or she did well and what should have been done differently. Over time, practice will help your child get better at using the skills consistently at school and at home.
Write or Draw it Out
If role-play isn’t enough or your child is resistant to role-play, writing or drawing the situation can help them see the other child’s perspective who is being bullied.
Have your child write or draw out an incident that happened from their point of view. Then have them flip over the paper and pretend to be the other child who was bullied and write or draw about the incident from their point of view. Discuss how these look different and how the other child might be feeling.
Bullying Won’t Go Away By Itself
Studies show that a child’s bullying will continue unless parents or other adults intervene. If bullying behavior is occurring at school, engage the school personnel to help. Schools have strict bullying policies that can be located on the school website or in the student handbook. If your child’s bullying behavior is not going away at school, you can review the policy and the possible consequences with your child.
Bullies who don’t change their ways in adolescence are heading for an adulthood filled with violence and aggression. These antisocial behaviors often result in employment problems, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships and criminal behavior. It is in a bully’s best interest to receive strong, negative consequences for his or her harmful, antisocial behavior.