When Your Child is the Bully
Bullying is not a problem that we can ignore or dismiss. Bullying can come be verbal (insults or name calling), physical (threatening or hurting the victim) and even emotional (exclusion or intimidation). The emotional and physical effects of bullying can cause scars that will take a lot of time to heal. In some cases, bullying has proved fatal when some teens would rather end their life than face another day with the bullies at school.
It is important to note that if there are victims on one side, there will be aggressors on the other side. What if your teen is on the other side of the spectrum – the one doing the bullying? As a parent, this kind of news is hard to swallow, but you need to face this problem head on and proactively find effective solutions.
Signs that Your Child May be a Bully
As parents, you need to be observant and alert, to intervene as necessary and give your teen the guidance he needs before it is too late. Be on the lookout for red flags in your teen’s behavior that indicate that your child is a bully. Here are some of the signs:
– Lack of empathy. He often does not relate to how other people feel while they are being bullied. All he feels is the sense of power and control he has when he is bullying someone else. A bully also tends to be display prejudice and violence towards others.
– Lack of emotional maturity. Although teens still have ways to go towards becoming mature emotionally, the emotional immaturity may be more apparent in bullies. A bully is often marked by his quick temper and desire for control and power. He easily gets frustrated when he does not get his way. In victory, he can be arrogant and proud. In defeat, he is prone to throwing tantrums or getting upset. A bully is also likely to be impulsive and aggressive.
– Pre-occupation with violent behavior. Conflicts, especially one he is winning, are a source of entertainment. The pain or fear someone is feeling may actually excite, rather than repel. He may also have a history of aggression and violence, intimidation or impulsive hitting.
– Trouble with authorities. He may have disciplinary issues but may also have learned to hide his behaviors so that those in authority (parents and teachers) do not easily find out about his wrongdoings. As a parent, one may already have been called to the principal’s office to discuss behavioral problems such as truancy, vandalism or being involved in a fight.
What to do about your child’s bullying
Have there been issues about bullying where your teen is the culprit? It is vital that you act promptly and nip this problem in the bud. Here are some things you can do:
– Open up lines of communication. There may be a breakdown in communication between you and your teen. Strive to build an environment where your teen can feel safe to talk about his feelings. Resist the urge to react, get angry or pass judgment about your child’s bullying. Rather, take time to get to know more about your child to have an understanding of the root cause of the bullying behavior. There may be deeper reasons why he is resorting to such behavior.
– Model positive behavior at home. As they say, charity (as well as other virtues such as respect, kindness and tolerance) begins at home. If there is some form of bullying that is tolerated inside your home (hitting, shouting and name calling), your child will reflect this behavior in school.
– Set ground rules and consequences. Have a heart to heart talk with your child. Help your child understand the consequences of his negative behavior – at school and at home. Discuss the rules about his behavior and the consequence he will face if he continues to carry out such behaviors. Be consistent in implementing these rules and consequences. Of course, if there are consequences, there should also be positive reinforcement. When you see improvement, be sure to also acknowledge it and provide incentives when they turn from negative behaviors to positive ones.
– Get to know your child. This does not only involve opening up the lines of communication, but also providing monitoring about his activities and friends. Invite his friends over so that you also get to know his spheres of influence. Keep a close eye on his activities.
– Provide healthy ways for your child to vent. Bullying is often a teen’s way to express anger. You can turn all this negative energy into something positive by providing your child with healthier ways to cope such as playing a sport.
– Seek help for your child. Your child may be in need of counseling or other therapeutic intervention. One option is to enroll him in a troubled teen residential program, where he can learn to deal with issues surrounding his negative actions and instead, to act accordingly. You can also consider getting other troubled teen services such as counseling or therapy.