There are few things more disheartening than learning that your child is a bully. Like most parents, you’ve done your best to instill within your child a healthy respect for other people and the common courtesy skills that any successful society requires for appropriate social interaction. When all those lessons seem to have fallen on deaf ears, however, you may find yourself wondering how to deal with the problem.
And it is a problem. Bullying, whether in-person or online, is an issue that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Despite an increased awareness of the psychological harm suffered by the victims of this behavior, bullying is something that continues to plague our young people. And it is a problem that knows no discriminatory borders; both men and women of all races and beliefs are susceptible to being victimized by bullies. Consider this:
- One survey indicates that more than half of all teens have experienced bullying in cyberspace.
- Between ten and twenty percent of teens report that they are bullied on an ongoing basis.
- Nine out of every ten children experience bullying between grades four through eight.
- Studies suggest that more than 2 million bullies inhabit America’s schools at any given time.
And those statistics do little more than scratch the surface of this seemingly intractable social challenge. So, as the parent of a bully, how do you deal with the situation? Here are some of the best steps you can take to rein in your child’s aggressive behavior.
- Begin by collecting whatever information you can about the type of behavior your child exhibited. Talk to officials at the school to learn exactly what he or she has done, and speak to your child as well.
- During your discussion with your child, he or she should take responsibility and accountability for the bullying behavior. Be aware of the fact that bullies commonly attempt to shift blame to their victims, and do not allow your child to get away with that tactic.
- Also, work to ascertain your child’s level of empathy for the victim, as well as his or her understanding of the amount of harm that conduct can cause. Discuss more appropriate behavioral options, as well as what your child needs to do to correct the situation.
- Work out some form of restitution that can be made to repair the damage they have done, and do whatever else is necessary to ensure that your child understands that unacceptable behavior has serious consequences.
- Try to work with the school to ensure that officials there know that you do not condone bullying behavior. If the school has a bullying prevention program, become active in it. If not, ask about starting a program with other concerned parents.
- On the home front, strive to be an even better role model in your interactions with others. Meanwhile, cut off any avenues for your child to engage in aggressive behavior that you might have difficulty monitoring. Place parental controls on computers, phones, and tablets to ensure that your child cannot access forums and chat rooms where such bullying behavior can be conducted.
- Try to identify the root causes of the behavior. Although many children justify their bullying behavior by claiming retaliation for something their victims did, or that the victims deserved to be bullied, many others who engage in bullying behavior are either showing off or simply enjoy being cruel to others, which is more concerning. You’ll have an easier time reining in this behavior if you can better understand why it is occurring.
Finally, contact a professional psychologist in Brooklyn to determine whether or not your child needs counseling to address this conduct. Jennifer Hope Ph.D. has helped many parents and their children address bullying behavior and its harmful consequences. If you’d like to find out more about how she can help your child, give her a call today.