Child Bullying

Have a child bullying others at school or at home? A child who taunts and teases, who may call others names, push and even hit. Read this article on how to control your child bully.

Most parents probably have viable concerns once their children reach school-age, not only in regards to their child's academic success, but also in regards to their social success. Indeed, the school setting is one of the first places children begin to make new and sometimes lasting friendships without the immediate support or approval of their parents. Of course, as parents we hope that these choices are always commendable, respectable, and suitable. We want our children's playmates or companions to be good influences and to come from good family backgrounds.

Unfortunately, however this is not always the case. Almost every school has at least one (if not two, three, four, or even one from every class room) child bully. Some of us may even remember one back from our own school days. This is the child who taunts and teases, who may call names, push or even hit, and it is the one who may steal, manipulate, and deceive. Overall this child scares others, or just one other, and often even harms or injures fellow classmates both mentally and physically. It is relatively simple to imagine the anguish one would feel for a bullied child victim, many of whom never come forward. But what if your child is the perpetrator, or the actual kid who bullies?

Most bullies are in some ways victims themselves. In some of the more severe cases they may have actually been abused or are currently being neglected or being abused. Other child bullies may feel internally victimized because they have been repeatedly ridiculed or teased themselves. Still, others may have simply been unintentionally rewarded for behaving aggressively towards others. Perhaps one of their friends thought it funny when "˜the bully' sat on his younger sister, or maybe a parent nonchalantly laughed when their "˜bully' daughter played wrestling with the family cat. There are many different scenarios that could have led to the child's current conduct, and it is important to discover which one is causing your child to act aggressively. Obviously if abuse is a factor it needs to stop immediately and professional counseling will be required. However, if bullying has been a learned response there are some steps that may help.

It is above all, most important to recognize that bullies usually behave in such ways to achieve feelings of superiority and security. Making others feel frightened or belittled helps the bully feel more powerful himself. In other words, without the use of the other children or victims, the bully does not feel very self-satisfied or significant. The aggressive child's self-esteem is actually quite fragile and vulnerable, and care should be taken to properly build it up and to teach appropriate social and life skills.

If you are unsure as to whether your child is a bully or not, be sure to spend some extra time around him or her, especially on the playground or whenever friends have come over to play. Keep in touch with other children's parents and talk to your child each day about his thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Upon entering kindergarten or grade one, some children may still struggle with controlling their emotions or actions and this is most likely normal. Children of this age are slowly coming to an understanding of what behaviors are socially acceptable and which are not. It is never too soon to look for certain bothersome symptoms, however. If you are concerned about the following signs in your child, be sure to speak to a school or family counselor.


- has shown signs of aggression towards you, other members of the family (particularly siblings), or friends.

- has become withdrawn or melancholy

- lies

- has had a drop in school grades

- has become overly self-oriented, and is only connected with personal pleasure

- has difficulty seeing other people's points of view

- has additional money, toys, or objects that have not come from you or anyone you know about

- hangs around peers who have inappropriate values or act inappropriately

- has no friends

- has received complaints from other classmates, parents, or teachers in regards to inappropriate conduct

The above symptoms are not necessarily indicative that your child is or is not a bully. Other behavioral possibilities also exist. As well, not all bullies act outwardly aggressively. Some only choose one victim and may threaten them so that they never tell anyone. This same bully may do marvelously in school and be otherwise very popular. In fact, some bullies even gain popularity because they act so tough around certain children. This is why it is so important to really know your child and encourage them to speak openly towards you about all matters. Here are some additional tips:


Children do not always know why they behave or feel certain ways, thus it is always important to communicate openly with them. Speak to them about what family values you see as significant (i.e. honesty, friendship, respect, etc.) and offer them age-related examples and explanations. Giving your child a list of important values offers them a sense of security and a foundation from which they can base their own decisions on. Also, often ask for their opinions and discuss situations they may have experienced when they felt bullied. Let them know that it is normal to feel angry, depressed, or sad sometimes, but that it is important to never act aggressively on such feelings. Let them know that teasing, threatening, and hitting are all forms of abuse and that no one deserves to be treated in such a manner (including them).


There is nothing that is going to stop your child from behaving aggressively or inappropriately faster than you. If you know your child can play rough, be ready to intervene. Make sure that your child's teachers are aware of the potential for harmful behavior so that they will be better prepared to handle a situation should one arise. Until your child is able to control his or her behavior you may only want to accept play dates if you are able to be there. Moreover, do not allow your child to play with other children who are overly obnoxious or aggressive.


Life is full of obstacles and problems no matter who you are or how old you are. It is never too soon to teach your child how to responsibly solve life's little problems. Begin by offering them hypothetical situations or even by talking to them about ones that may be on television. Have your child think of alternative ways in which to solve or answer different dilemmas "" just remember that their responses will only be age-appropriate, so do not expect too much too soon. Also talk about your own solutions. When a member of the family becomes upset it is a good idea to resort back to a similar problem solving method that involves your children. Repetition equals lots of practice, and this may carry over to their own dilemmas.


For some children a friend may simply mean someone to play their own games with. Thus, if things are not going as they had wished or had planned, emotions may soon erupt. It may be important to teach your children that friendship not only involves games and fun times, but also patience, compromise, trust, and understanding. If such qualities are offered they will also almost always be returned back to your child. Conversely, bossiness and meanness can also come back to hurt your child through a lack of people who are willing to be friends. After all, who wants to be a companion to someone who manipulates or continually puts others down?


Having the children whom your child has harmed or harassed write a letter to your child stating their feelings and emotions, allows your child to witness firsthand what his or her bullying can do. It may also be therapeutic to those who have been bullied. Often the bullying child does not take the time out to consider the consequences of their actions, so hearing it straight from the victim may really hit home. Of course, it is also a good time for your child to take full responsibility for his or her behavior by apologizing and offering some form of retribution. Do not let your child off the hook without suffering the natural consequences of his or her actions.


Children learn through imitation, so if you do not want your child to become a bully or if he or she is already one, be extra sure that you act mature, responsible, and collected. Ridiculing, yelling, or hitting your child will only augment their inappropriate behavior. When possible offer praise or small rewards to your child when they are conducting themselves politely, and do not overact when their behavior needs mending. Furthermore, provide them with as many role models as possible "" including you.


Many bullies simply lack the necessary skills for behaving adequately in public. Aside from role modeling good behavior yourself, teach your children before they go out anywhere that there are different behaviors acceptable for at home and elsewhere. Perhaps begin by demonstrating the difference between the loud voice which is alright for outside and at the park, and the quiet voice which is mandatory for indoor and public places. Teach your child that roughhousing is sometimes acceptable with mom and dad, but never acceptable with friends at school. Children often assume that a behavior that has been tolerated in the past or in one place (i.e. at home) will be tolerated some place else as well (i,e, school). Consequently, it is necessary to teach them where and why certain actions are or are not allowed. Do not assume that they will automatically know. Keeping your children busy one or two times a week with extra-curricular activities like swimming or scouts will also help teach them how to behave around other children.


Children who are proud of who they are and feel at peace with themselves will find no reason to bully others. Make sure your children know what you like about them and ask them to list those characteristics they admire in themselves. Empower them everyday. Also be sure to give them some chores or responsibilities to do themselves. Upon completion of these activities they can look back at their work with pride, and this not only builds self-esteem but confidence as well.

© High Speed Ventures 2011