Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What can I do if my child IS a bully?

HumpDay Dilemma

I talked a few weeks ago about what you should and should not do to prevent and help your child when he or she is being bullied.  Today I want to reverse the roles and talk about what you as a parent or caregiver should do if you find that your child IS a bully.  

Bullying comes in many different forms.  It can be subtle like a child refusing to share with a particular child and it can be obvious like teasing and name calling.  It can also be violent.  It is a mistake to ignore the subtle bullying because it can quickly lead to more obvious and even violent behavior.  

Almost all parenting experts agree that most bullies are being bullied from someone.  A hurtful child is a hurt-filled child.  Sadly a majority of the time the child is being bullied from a family member, sometimes even parents.   

If you are reading this, my guess is that you are not intentionally being cruel and abusive to your child.  If you are, seek help to change this habit, it is hurting your child and teaching him habits you do not want him to learn. You need to seek professional help because you were most likely bullied by someone when you were younger and it has become a learned habit.  However, even the most loving and engaged parent can at times participate in bullying.  

If I saw a child talking about another child in a group as if they were not there, I would say that child is teasing and bullying the other child.  However, how often as parents to we talk about our children like they are not there when they are within ear shot.  This could be considered bullying.  Ignoring a person when they clearly have something important to say is considered rude and disrespectful behavior, yet we do that to children all the time.  

There are a lot of really subtle and not so subtle ways that we bully our children into doing what we want them too.  How can we be surprised when they begin treating others like we treat them?  When we teach through our parenting that it is ok to be the ruler over people who are smaller than us that is exactly what they learn.  What we should be teaching our children is that it is their job to protect and love people that are smaller than they are.  

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