My Kid Is the Bully. What Should I Do?
What to do when you learn that your child is a bully or has been bullying other kids? Here are some tips on how to discipline him.
One of the most alarming news to parents is when they learn from the school that their child is a bully or has been bullying other kids. It is a given fact that a lot of kids bully others; and that even the most well-mannered kids can turn to bullying.
Tips on how to discipline your child for bullying others
1. Address the Bullying Immediately
- Once you learn that your child has bullied another child, it is imperative that you talk with her immediately. By doing so, it sends out the message that you aware of the situation and that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
- Make sure to remain calm, avoid any shameful language, and show your concern; at the same time, make it clear that disciplinary actions will be applied.
2. Determine the Root Cause
- So as to come up with the right action plan to discipline your child, it is important for you to find out why she chose to bully another child. Create a conversation that encourages her to talk more openly.
Here are some reasons why a child bullies:
- The child wants to fit in with a group of friends who are picking on one classmate.
- She is getting bullied at home or at school, and is trying to regain a sense of power by acting aggressively toward others.
- She is looking for attention from teachers, parents, or classmates, and hasn’t been successful getting it in other ways.
- She is by nature more assertive and impulsive than her peers.
- She has a tendency to perceive the behavior of other kids as hostile, even when it is not.
- She does not fully grasp how her behavior is making the victim feel. This is particularly true of younger kids.
- But remember, do not give your child an excuse for his behavior. Instead, this information will give you an idea of how to address his poor choices and discipline her appropriately.
3. Discuss Bullying as a Choice
- Your child needs to recognize that no matter what the reason is behind the bullying behavior, bullying was a choice she made; as such, she is responsible for her actions. Make sure that your child owns it and accepts responsibility.
4. Develop Logical Consequences
- Every bullying situation is different, and as a result, the consequences will be different.
5. Take Away Privileges
- Doing this demonstrates that bullying behavior has consequences and will not be tolerated. Make sure though that once you take something away, you do not give in later. Also, be clear on the length of time that the privilege will be revoked.
6. Support the School’s Disciplinary Plan
- Although supporting the school can be very difficult for parents, it is an extremely important step. When you partner with the school and support the plan they are implementing, you are ensuring your children will learn a valuable life lesson.
7. Teach Your Child New Skills
- Pay attention to the details of your child’s bullying behavior. Are there skills your child is lacking that may prevent future bullying incidents like anger management and impulse control? Or, is your child bullying to fit in or to get attention? If so, this could be a self-esteem issue. Help your child see their value and worth outside of what peers have to say. And if bullying is related to cliques, help your child learn to identify and develop healthy friendships.
8. Avoid Shaming Your Child
- Shaming is a form of bullying and should not be used to discipline.
9. Concentrate on Instilling Empathy
- Talk about the consequences of bullying. And be sure your child takes the time to really think about how they would feel if they were the one being bullied. Raising your child's emotional intelligence and instilling empathy goes a long way in preventing bullying.
10. Prevent Future Bullying
- Sometimes when bullying is caught early and addressed appropriately, it usually won’t happen again or it prevents future bullying. It’s important therefore for parents to continue monitoring their child’s behavior and disciplining her if necessary.
Adapted from Child Mind Institute, Inc. and Health On The Net Foundation
About The Expert
DR. JOSELYN EUSEBIO, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
Dr. Joselyn C. Alonzo-Eusebio is a graduate of Doctor of Medicine from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She had her Pediatric Residency Training in the same institution, after which, she pursued a fellowship in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at UP-PGH. She had had further trainings in Developmental Pediatrics abroad (US and UK).
Dr. Eusebio is involved both in teaching and in clinical practice. For the academe, she’s currently an Associate Professor of the College of Medicine of UERMMMC, and Clinical Instructor at the New Era College of Medicine and St Luke’s College of Medicine. Dr. Eusebio holds various positions including the following: Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, UERMMMC; Head, Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at National Children’s Hospital; Vice-President, Philippine Pediatric Society and the Perinatal Association of the Philippines.
She’s a much sought-after speaker in conferences, scientific symposia, lay fora, here and abroad, both in platforms and in media, most especially on the topic of child development and behavior.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and do not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.