Bullying is a big problem in schools today. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, over 20% of students in 2016 reported being the victim of a bully’s attack. From hurtful words to physical assault, bullies have a big impact on their target’s long-term development. Academic problems, anxiety, and depression are just a few of the negative side effects of being bullied.
What happens when your child is caught tormenting a classmate? How can parents help their child find better ways to relate to their peers?
Find the Source
Bullying is not a random occurrence. There is always an underlying problem. The bully seeks out victims as a way to relieve their own internal pressures. Find out what’s behind your child’s behavior in order to create an appropriate solution. Some common triggers include:
- Transitions. Changing schools, moving to a new neighborhood, or entering a new social circle are all stressful events. Some students turn to bully behaviors because they think it makes them more popular.
- Problems at home. According to the University of Washington, there is a strong correlation between home environment and bullying. Are there any issues in the home that may be causing stress to your youngster?
- Undiagnosed developmental disability. High-functioning autism, ADHD, and other “invisible” conditions make it difficult for kids to understand and respond appropriately to social cues. These misunderstandings can lead to bullying and other aggressive behaviors.
Talk to your child to find the source of their frustration. Wait until you’re both calm and in an even mood before broaching the subject to avoid flaring tempers on both sides.
Correct the Problem
Once you’ve found the source of the problem, take corrective actions to stop unwanted behaviors.
- Create appropriate consequences for continued behaviors. For example, students who are caught tormenting classmates online should lose their internet privileges for a specified length of time.
- Teach your child other ways to cope with stress. Your most important tool in this effort is your attention. Listen with an open mind, validate their feelings, and offer reasonable solutions to their problems.
- Talk to school officials. Teachers and principals can provide vital information and act as your eyes and ears when you can’t be physically present.
Be consistent with consequences and stay involved for best results.
Empathy and Compassion: The Keys to Ending Bullying
Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s viewpoint. Compassion is a feeling of concern that motivates someone to help another person. Encourage these virtues in your child to reduce their desire to be a bully. Empathy prevents children from taking pleasure in bullying activities while compassion drives them to assist and defend others when they fall victim.
It’s vital that you don’t take your child’s bullying tendencies personally. Having a child with challenging behaviors does not make you a bad parent. Your positive attention, loving guidance, and active involvement are more than enough to help your child make better social choices.