There are many resources, like my previous post, where parents can learn how to recognize the signs of bullying. But what do you do when your child is the bully? I was devastated to learn recently that one of my favorite students was bullying others. I always taught my students that it was important to be kind and respectful. But another teacher alerted me that this student had a long, documented list of incidents where they picked on other students. Some of them even involved using the newest technology, like smartphones, to send hurtful messages. I was floored. And ashamed.
When I looked online, the only advice I could find was for parents whose kids are being bullied. Information for parents whose children are bullying others was practically non-existent. I want parents to put a stop to their child’s behavior immediately and teach them that it’s never okay to bully someone. Here are some tips I learned from professional child psychologists that you can use to get your child to stop bullying others:
Don’t Skirt The Issue
When your kid is bullying other children you can’t pretend it isn’t happening. You need to address your child’s inappropriate behavior and make it clear that it’s not acceptable. But, you need to do this without flying off the handle.
Gather all the proof you can, with the newest technology, of your child’s bullying, then sit down and ask them about the incident. Having proof is important so that your child can’t lie and say they didn’t bully one of their peers. But be prepared. You probably think your child is an angel, but they may lie to you, scream at you, or deny responsibility for the incident. You have to confront them with definitive proof and not let them wriggle out of responsibility.
There needs to be consequences for bullying. Taking away your child’s electronics or grounding them isn’t going to cut it. If you don’t instate some serious consequences, your child will have no reason to stop being a bully. Show your child how serious it is by writing out a no-bully contract that clearly spells out what behavior is unacceptable.
Put clauses in the contract that address bullying other children in person and with the newest technology, like on social media or over text. Make sure that the consequences are outlined as well. An example could be, “Social media bullying is not okay. If you bully someone using social media or post inappropriate comments or photos of someone, you will lose your iPhone permanently.” Then both you and your child should sign it so you’re in agreement with each other.
The next step is enforcing those consequences, if necessary. That can be rough, especially because no one wants to punish their child. But it’s critical that you follow through so your child understands that bullying is never acceptable.