Updated: Aug 17, 2019
It's easy to look into your child's eyes and see them as an infant. The day they were born, the day they learned to walk, the day they spoke their first words, the first time they gave you precious hugs and kisses. What is not easy, is to look in your child's eyes and see a bully. To see an unkind, mean, and tormenting person that creates pain for others. How do you know if your child is a bully? How does bullying actually serve the bully? What can you, as the parent, do to stop your child from being a bully?
Today you would not look at me and see a former bully. If you did not know me intimately, you would have seen a well adjusted, friendly kid that was in the popular crowd. On the inside I was a bully! As a teen I had 2 targets. One was someone very close to me and the other was a high school girl that made the choice to spread rumors about someone in my inner circle. These are actions I cannot take back and will forever be a part of my story. I could have allowed this part of me to flourish and grow and dictate my life or I could see my actions for what they were and use that to fuel a much needed change. I chose the latter and decided to learn WHY I treated others this way and how to change it!
How can you determine if your child is a bully? STOMPoutbullying.org is a great site that strives to stop bullying and lists a few of signs that your child is a bully.
Signs Your Child May Be A BULLY
Positive views towards violence
Often aggressive towards parents, teachers and other adults
A need to control and dominate others and situations
Boy bullies tend to be physically stronger than their peers
Girl bullies want to win at all costs, tend to be more dramatic than their friends and have a "mean girls" streak
Hot tempered, impulsive and easily frustrates
Often tests limits, boundaries and breaks rules
Good at talking their way [out] of difficult and tense situations
Show little sympathy towards others who are bullied
Other signs of a bullying are
Lack of power in their life
Lack of empathy for others
Low self esteem
Over inflated sense of self
Gossiping about other kids
Former victim of bullying in the past
Abused in the past such as physical, mental, verbal, and sexual
Behavioral issues in school
If your child has any of the above symptoms speak to a therapist or school counselor right away. As a parent it is your responsibility to help your child(ren) and those your child(ren) affects as well. How does bullying actually serve the bully?For me it was a strong personality, being a past victim of bullying, an outlet for my anger from past abuse as well as the lack of experience on how to control my emotions that created a bully. After being bullied for developing faster than the other girls I snapped and fought back. The problem was that once I unleashed the pent up anger in combination with my strong personality, I soon realized I now had (a very unhealthy) outlet for my rage. Most kids that are bullies were bullied themselves at one point or another. The bully soon discovers the power he/she has over someone and enjoys the power trip. It may appear that the bully is self confident but that is the farthest from the truth. In reality, the bully suffers from low self esteem and is looking for ways to make themselves feel better about themselves. On the flip side is the child that has an over inflated view of themselves and cannot empathize with other people. He or she may enjoy gossiping about others and enjoy tearing others down.
Once you face the ugly fact that your child is a bully what can you do?
Call in the experts!
Talk to your school counselor for tips and resources
Talk to your child about how bullying is wrong
Listen to your child
Ask your child if they have ever been bullied in school. If so there is a great opportunity to correlate how your child felt and how their victims feel.
Teach your child to accept responsibility for their actions
Teach your child humility and how to humble themselves
Identify self esteem issues
Ask the hard questions and find out of your child is a victim of abuse. If so, seek out the help of a therapist immediately
STOMPoutbullying.org has the following suggestions ... Counseling may be needed for your child. It will help them learn to behave differently, accept responsibility for their actions and teach them how to develop guilt, as well as learn how to form cohesive relationships.Through behavior modification and cognitive behavior therapy and any other circumstances that may be affecting their child’s behavior, only then can one work towards raising a kinder and more empathetic child. It is imperative to teach your child to:
Improve communication with others
Teach kids how to cope with fears
How to confront and challenge destructive thoughts
Identify positive coping mechanisms
Change negative thoughts
Additionally, empathy must be taught at home and at school. If a child is not empathetic how can we possibly expect them to care about others and their feelings? http://stompoutbullying.org/information-and-resources/parents-page/what-do-if-your-child-bully/ The most important things for parents to do is to face reality about the issue of bullying, recognize their own bullying behavior or attitudes regarding bullying, seek help from a therapist or school counselor, communicate with your child, and GET INVOLVED IN ELIMINATING BULLYING!
Be Kind and Blessed!
Share these great bullying resources with your children, other parents and your child's school
Have a blessed and balanced day!
Melissa Smith is an LMFT in the state of Kentucky. To find out more about her click here.
Live. Life. Balanced.Today is a blog written by licensed marriage and family therapist.
For more information about counseling go to www.LifeInMotionKentucky.com