Every parent hopes her child is well-liked by his peers, so it may come as a complete surprise to learn that your child is a bully. Bullying is a major problem in schools, and some children even harm themselves after being bullied. It’s important to take charge of the bullying situation as soon as you learn about it. Work with your child so that he learns that bullying is wrong, and that there are more appropriate ways for him to act.
Talk to other caregivers about why this might be happening. Children bully for a variety of reasons. Some are insecure and feel more important when they pick on others who are weak. Others may be responding physically to emotional attacks. Your child’s teacher or daycare provider may be able to give you some insight into the behavior.
Ask your child about her bullying. Tell your child that you’ve heard about some of the things that she’s been doing in school. Let her tell you her side of the story. This opens the lines of communication about bullying.
Set clear rules about treating others with respect, along with consequences for when it doesn’t happen. Your child must know which behaviors you won’t tolerate. It’s often better to set positive rules, such as “Treat others with respect,” rather than “Don’t hit others.” The consequences should fit the crime. If she’s sending rude emails to other girls, take away computer privileges; if he’s stealing toys from other students, stop him from playing for a certain time.
Follow through with consequences. If you are all talk and no action, your child isn’t going to stop his behavior. You must punish your child when he breaks the rules.
Teach your child appropriate ways to assert himself. In some cases, a child bullies because he don’t know the right way to behave, such as hitting every time he doesn’t like something. You can teach him how to ask nicely to use another toy, for example, rather than simply taking it from the child.
Model good behavior. Many bullies bully because they are victims of bullying at home. Treat your child–and others–with the same respect that you want to see her show others.
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