No one likes to see a child being bullied. But what do you do when YOUR child is acting like a bully? Use these five strategies to help your child learn to interact more appropriately with others.
I hear horrible stories of how children are sometimes bullied by other kids. I try not to worry too much but I tell my son and daughter to tell me immediately if another child ever tries to bully them. Of course, there will always be some disagreements or that kid who is just a little bit too aggressive when he is playing with the other kids. However, so far, we have not experienced anything that would really be considered a bullying episode.
Then one day, I started wondering about kids who actually engage in bullying behavior. Of course, it’s never okay to bully but I asked my pediatrician about why some kids bully other kids. She shared that most kids who are seen as bullies actually have a lot of things going on at home and because they have poor coping skills, they end up taking it out on others. So, if you see that your own kids are developing bullying behavior, here are some things that you can do:
Look at the situation from your child’s perspective
All behavior is motivated by something and when we punish our kids without understanding what’s causing it, the punishment can be ineffective. In fact, some kids might stop bullying just to start another inappropriate behavior. So, the first step in stopping undesirable behavior is to understand why it’s happening in the first place. Sometimes, when there are a lot of changes in a child’s environment and they don’t have the coping skills or the verbal skills to express their frustration, they may begin to “act out.” So take a look at what’s happening in their world from your child’s perspective - that might give you some clues.
Spend more time with your child
Try to spend more quality time with your child when you begin noticing this bullying behavior. Sometimes acting out is your child’s way of getting your attention. You may be surprised at just how much his behavior may change just by your presence alone. And if it’s more than attention-seeking behavior, then the more time that you spend with her, the more comfortable she will be revealing the real problem to you.
Reinforce appropriate behavior
Sometimes parents become so focused on fixing the “problem” behavior that they unintentionally ignore their kids’ “good” behavior. In actuality, parents should be more responsive to the appropriate behavior so that children will begin to internalize positive values. Reward the behavior that you want to see more of and your kids will start demonstrating that kind of behavior more frequently. Keep in mind, the reward doesn’t have to be anything fancy and most kids will appreciate a sincere “good job” from their parents. Just be sure to ACKNOWLEDGE the appropriate behavior in some meaningful way. So the next time your child interacts with peers appropriately - be sure to reinforce it!
Be sure to model appropriate behavior for your child
Parents are their children’s first and best teachers and kids are more likely do what they actually see you do than what you tell them to do. So if you are verbally or physically aggressive toward others, then you can expect that your children will also be aggressive toward others. Be sure that you’re teaching your children appropriately by modeling appropriate behavior to them.
Seek help from a professional
Psychologists and Therapists are specifically trained to deal with acting out behavior. If your children are consistently bullying other kids or misbehaving beyond what you truly believe is normal, then you really should consider seeking out an experienced Mental Health Professional that can help you and your child resolve this issue.
No one likes it when their kid starts acting like a bully. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help your child move through this tough time.