What To Do If Your Child Is The Bully
Every parent has a fear that their child might fall victim to being bullied at school.
But sometimes it might be the other way around. What if your child is the bully? What can you do to recognise the signs and put a stop to it?
READ MORE: Finding The Strength To Stand Up To Bullies
What Is Bullying?
Nowadays, there is more than one one way to be bullied: emotionally, physically or cyberbullying (online).
According to tacklebullying.ie bullying is an intentional negative behaviour that is repeated and is directed against a person who has difficulty defending him or herself. The most common forms of bullying are verbal, physical, gesture, exclusion or extortion.
Cyberbullying is also very common and can do a lot of harm.
According to research done by the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at Dublin City University, 14% of primary school children and 10% of post primary school students had experienced some form of cyberbullying.
Bullying can begin as early as preschool years and can become worse and continue all throughout the rest of primary and high school.
It can happen anywhere: school, church or daycare.
Bullying is one of the worse things that can happen to anyone. It can lead to a lack of confidence and a low self-esteem. Research is now showing bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including how it impacts mental health, substance use, and suicide.
READ MORE: How To Spot The Signs Of Bullying
How To Know If If My Child Is A Bully
Discovering and dealing with bullying is just as important to the well-being of your own child as it is to those that he/she is bullying.
It’s been reported that bullies are significantly more likely to suffer from depression, struggle in school, go to prison, abuse drugs and alcohol and act violently throughout their lives.
When a bully gets away with bullying, they typically don’t grow out of it, but develop a life-long habit of abusing others.
Here are a few signs to look out for if you suspect your child might be a bully:
- They refuse to take responsibility for their actions – Instead bullies tend to focus blame on others instead of themselves. They'll find ways to justify their behaviour, like making excuses and blaming something or someone else for the way they are behaving. It won't happen that often that they'll admit they're wrong.
- They don't take someone else's feelings in consideration – They lack compassion and don't think about how other people might feel when they behave the way they do.
- They always want to be in control – By bullying others they try to have control over them. They like that feeling and will always try to get others to do as they say.
- They are obsessed with being popular – By controling others means they'll be more popular amongst classmates and get what he/she want. In fear of being bullied, children will often do exactly what the bully wants them to do as they are scared to be the bully's next target.
- They spend a lot of time online – Children nowadays are communicating mainly through social media sites. It's easier for them to say anything online without realising how their words may impact others. Sometimes bullies create entire pages to hurt someone else. These pages usually spread like wild-fire which leads to the victim being bullied by people he/she might not know.
- They are aggressive – Bullies intimidate others to stay popular. They'll do things and spread rumours to hurt people around them. They'll often do very aggressive things to still have the power they're craving.
READ MORE: Dealing With Sibling Rivalry
What Do You Do If Your Child’s A Bully?
If your child shows any of the above mentioned signs, talk to them about why they behave that way. Help them to find a way to change these behaviours. Also talk to teachers and the parents of your child’s friends to establish if they’ve noticed any bullying.
If it comes to it that your child is indeed a bully, talk to him/her. Listen to his/her perspective and correct it. Make it clear that there will be consequences for this kind of behaviour – not just as a punishment, but also for the children he/she has bullied. Paint a picture of how it would have been if it was the other way around.
The next step might be a difficult one, but your child needs to apologise to their victim(s) face-to-face – even if the bullying occurred online.
It is important that your child see the hurt they’ve caused and take steps toward healing. If your child damaged the victim’s property, he/she should replace it with his/her own money.
But don’t let your child apologise on his/her own. Go with them, but don’t meddle with the conversation. Your child should take responsibility and apologise on his/her own. You are just there for support.
Also talk to your child’s teachers and let them know what’s been going on. Ask them to help you stop the bullying from happening again.
The most important thing to remember being a bully’s parent: be consistent. Behavioural change won’t happen overnight. Be strict, but also make sure your child knows that you’re always there for him/her to talk or support him/her in any way.
READ MORE: Childhood Depression: How To Support Your Child
If you suspect your child is a bully, or that he/she is being bullied, seek help from professionals:
- Childline 1800 66 66 66
- Pieta House 01 601 0000
- Samaritans 1850 60 90 900
- Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634
- Gay Switchboard 01-872 1055
- BodyWhys 1890 200 444
- Console 1800 201 890 The services previously provided by Console have transferred to Pieta House.
- The 24/7 Suicide Helpline is available by calling 1800 247 247 or texting “HELP” to 51444
- Aware 1890 303 302
These sites can provide helpful advice for parents and guardians about bullying:
- Parentline provides a completely confidential helpline for parents and guardians. LoCall 1890 927277 or 01 8733500
- NPC National Parents Council Primary “NPC Information/Helpline is a confidential service for parents. The Information/Helpline officers listen, and give information and support to parents to help them make the best possible decisions for and with their children.” If you have a query on any aspect of your child’s education please contact the Information / Helpline on Tel: 01-8874477 email: email@example.comThe Information / Helpline is open from: Monday to Wednesday from 10am to 5pm and on Thursday and Friday from 10am to 4pm Information / Helpline Officers will be available to help you with any issue you may have.
- NPCPP National Parents Council Post-Primary Tel: +353 (1) 830 2740
- Loving Our Out Kids (Formerly Parents Support) is a support organisation run by parents for other parents who have lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender children of any age.
Is your child affected by bullying? Tell us about it in the comments below.