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The Taos News




Does Your Child Bully?

May 2015

We all know bullying is a problem for children at school, but what should you as a parent do if you find that it is YOUR child who is doing the bullying?   How can you help your child understand what motivates him to bully?  What actions should you take to enable your child to stop?

Children bully others for a variety of reasons. For example, some children want to experiment with power, irrationally thinking that bullying others will accomplish this.    Other children bully because they have been bullied themselves.  They express their built up anger by being mean to others. Kids who have observed a lot of bullying start doing the same because it’s what they know. It’s familiar.

Some children know they are bullying others, while others are not aware of their destructive behaviors.  To help your child know whether they do things that could be considered bullying, you can reflect with them on some key behaviors. Do they try to make another person feel bad?  Do they take part in name-calling?   Do they ever purposely leave someone out?  Do they threaten others or cause them physical pain?  Do they send mean notes, emails or instant messages about someone else?  Spread rumors?  Try to make someone feel they are not as good as they are? You can explain to them that doing any of these things on a regular basis is bullying. 

What can you do to help your child stop bullying?  One thing you can do is help her admit to herself that what she is doing is wrong.  This takes courage, but if she has bullied someone and is willing to be honest about it, that’s a big first step.  Also, you can have her make a promise to herself to stop bullying., She can write the promise in her own words and keep it in a safe place where she can refer to it when she needs to. You could suggest she make amends to the person she has hurt by apologizing and doing something to make up for her mean actions.  For example, she could tell the person she hurt she is sorry and then she could start including that person in games or activities.  She could also talk to a trusted adult about the problem.  Your child will feel better about herself after she does any one or a number of these things. 

As your child begins to take more responsibility for his behavior, be sure to give him credit for the changes he is making.  It takes courage to own up to one’s own bad behavior. Giving him encouragement and support for the process will help to keep him on track and remind him of the positive changes he is making.  Inspire him to be a part of the bigger solution, too, by helping him to think of ways he could help to end bullying at his school.  For example, he could ask a teacher if the class could have an honest discussion about bullying.  He could suggest they talk about why kids bully, how they feel about it, and what to do about it.  The class could declare a day without bullying and then discuss what it was like not to bully or to be bullied.  Remind him that bullying will only end when enough people make the decision to stop it.  Congratulate him on deciding to become one of them.

Lastly, you can help your child change from being a bully to being a friend by showing him by example that every persons’ life means something.  In fact, every person’s life means a lot.  Let him know that every word he speaks and every action he takes counts.  By treating himself and others with respect, he can make the world a little kinder, safer, and more peaceful, and he will feel better when he does.


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