By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi Originally published at http://www.urbandojo.com/blog
Most parents probably spend more time worrying about their child getting bullied than about their child being a bully.
As a result, when they find out their child is bullying others, it takes them by surprise and they don’t quite know how to handle it.
Here’s a guide for parents who find themselves in this position. There are 5 strategies you can use to handle the situation:
1. Don’t slide into denial or defensiveness
No parent likes to hear negative things about their child. So it’s understandable if your gut reaction is to defend your child against bullying accusations or deny that your child did anything wrong.
But before you jump to conclusions about what did or didn’t happen, it’s important to keep your mind open to the possibility that your child did bully someone else.
2. Listen closely and play detective
Think of yourself as being on a fact-finding mission. You want to find out what, if anything, triggered the behavior in your child, what exactly your child did or said , how the other kid responded, how your child reacted to the other kid’s response, who else was there to witness the event, how they reacted, and so on.
If this step sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same strategy we recommend for parents of a child who are being bullied.
You want to understand the perspective of everyone involved, especially your child. If you can find out what triggered the behavior, that doesn’t excuse your child, but at least you can discover some root causes and get closer to a solution.
3. Make it clear to your child that bullying will not be tolerated
There should be no ambiguity here. Your child needs to understand that bullying others is wrong, and that you will absolutely not tolerate this kind of behavior.
Explain to your child why bullying can be so harmful. Talk about it from the victim’s perspective: how it makes them feel, how it can impact their life in so many different ways. Your child needs to understand why bullying is bad.
4. Brainstorm better ways to react to a similar situation
By now you should have some idea of what caused your child to act the way he did. Now, ask your child to brainstorm ways they could react to the situation that doesn’t involve bullying.
For example, you discover that your child has been bullying another kid (we’ll call him Xavier) because he’s jealous that Xavier gets more praise from their teacher than he does. Ask your child what kinds of things the teacher praises Xavier for.
Ask your child how he could get better at those things and win similar praise. By doing this, you show your child how he can redirect a negative emotion (jealousy) to a positive action (doing better at school).
5. Develop a clear and consistent approach to discipline
As we discussed in our post that explored the question “why do people bully others?” — one of the factors that contributes to bullying behavior is the approach to discipline at home.
North Dakota State University professor Laura DeHaan sums up the findings as follows:
“Parents of bullies also tend to use inconsistent discipline and little monitoring of where their children are throughout the day. Sometimes parents of bullies have very punitive and rigid discipline styles, with physical punishment being very common.”
So if you want your child to stop bullying others, it’s important that you yourself avoid using physical punishment when disciplining your child.
Also, make sure you are consistent with what you do and don’t discipline your child for. There should be clear rules in your household for what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
Free Download: Special Report on Bullying Prevention
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“How to Prevent Bullying: A Guide for Parents and Educators”
This special report is an excellent resource, whether you’re a parent who’s concerned about your child getting bullied, or you’re a teacher looking ideas on how to prevent bullying at school.
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