Could Your Child Be A Bully?
Do you ever ask yourself: “Is my child a bully?” Discover the tell tale signs of a bully and how to respond appropriately.
Is my child a bully?
Sure, raising children is not an easy task yet there aren’t many things that hurt parents more than discovering their children are behaving in such an appropriate—even cruel—way. When you see your child mistreat other people, it’s expected you’ll feel fear, defensiveness and insecurity. After all, aren’t our offspring a reflection of who we are and our homes?
How Common is Bullying?
It’s a fact of life that the journey to being an adult is a difficult ride. Many conflicts are expected to come about and our kids will have to learn to make their way through various types of relationships. They will encounter situations with other people that will catch them off-guard, situations that can be scary and confusing. Their young brains and inexperience make these situations breeding grounds for inappropriate behaviour. As children enter their elementary school years and more, they have plenty of time spent with their peers without the watchful eyes of adults.
A survey in England showed that over a thousand British parents suspected their child can be a bully. Approximately 6 percent of these parents have found evidence that their son or daughter acted as a bully online.
What is a Bully?
Some people wonder if one day scientists will discover some sort of genetic tendencies that cause children to begin bullying others at such a young age. Could it be in their DNA? Current research has shown that this is not likely the case.
Bullying is mostly a learned habit that involves social pressure, according to psychologies Peter Sheras, Ph.D. Dr. Sheras works for the University of Virginia and is the author of a book titled ‘Your Child: Bully or Victim?’ According to him, many children turn to bullying tactics or become friends with known bullies because it helps them avoid becoming the victim. It’s less of a hassle to be friends with the class bully than risking the role of victim.
Bullies tend to hold on to extreme anger. They are more likely to view the world as either black or white. Most bullies feel everyone has treated them in such an unfair manner and that they don’t receive sufficient acknowledgment for their achievements. Bullies, according to Dr. Sheras, are both opinionated and judgmental.
While stereotypes portray bullies as a child, bullying is not just limited to children. A child bully has the huge potential to retain their cruel behaviour as they grow older. As adults, former kid bullies can be involved in sexual aggression, cyber bullying and hazing. These are all variants of the same concept.
How to Stop Being a Bully
Why are some people bullies? What should parents do if their own child is a bully? What must be done after you get a call from the school who’s letting you know that your child has acted mean, or even cruel, to a peer?
First, breathe and relax. This will help you think clearly and avoid acting impulsively. Be open to what you’re hearing and reserve judgement for later. Wait to decide how to act after the initial surge of emotions have subsided.
Next, be thankful that the proper authorities have informed you. Make sure to extend your gratitude to the headteacher, guidance counsellor, teacher or any other well-meaning adult who told you about your child’s inappropriate behaviour. Let the other person know you realize it is a very difficult conversation when they have to let a parent know their child has been misbehaving.
Do take a moment and realize that you are going to need time to think about what you just learned. You don’t have to rush and make a decision right away. Prudence is key. Also, assure the person you’re talking to that you will speak to your child. It’s also a wise move to get their contact information so you will be able to follow up in case you need more information about the situation that just occurred between your child and the alleged victim.
How to Deal With It
It helps to know that bullies tend to have good verbal and social skills. They can read their peers well. If they sense they’re about to get in trouble, these bullies are known to talk to their parents immediately so they can lie about the event in an attempt to justify what they just did.
Be sure to hold your child accountable. Even if your child claims they were provoked, ask them if what the other adults and victim are saying is true or not. This can help prevent placing your child in a position for lying. By doing this, you’re letting your child know that you believe some parts of their story but that there could also be some merit in the version of other people.
This method lets you know about the incident from different points of view. It’s normal for a child bully to gloss over the side of other people so that the child bully can minimize the gravity of what they did. By all means make your child realize he/she has to be responsible for his/her role in the incident.
Encourage your child to look at the situation from the other persons perspective and try to place themselves in their shoes. Discuss the importance of empathy and trying to treat others as they would like to be treated. Often, taking the time to ask then listen to the reasons why your child acted the way they did can prompt deeper understanding and thought on the behaviour.