My child is a bully… now what?

It is highly unpleasant for parents to learn from other parents or teachers that their child has become the perpetrator and bully. The gut reaction of most parents is unbelief, that there must be some mix-up or that something is being blamed on their child.

However, the reality is that almost every child can become a bully, given the right circumstance. That can be teaming up with the wrong children, a desire for more acceptance, or negative role models on TV or the internet.

What you can do if your child has become a bully

Sit down calmly with your child and understand the situation without making accusations or raising your voice. Present the existing evidence and tell your child that it is okay to make a mistake if you do not make it again. Try to find out what the reasons are for your child’s behavior. But also try to check the other children involved in this situation and seek a conversation with the parents.

In a (cyber) bullying situation, there are often few bullies and many supporters. Try to find out what role your child played and make the other parents aware of their children’s behavior.

Communicate to your child what the consequences of his behavior were.

Explain to your child that he is responsible for his actions and that this behavior had negative consequences for another child. Encourage your child to put themself in the victim’s shoes and take their perspective. You can also ask your child to write down how the other child felt.

Make sure your child learns from the situation and make him think about how to behave better in future problems. If your child wants to apologize to the other child, allow it. However, do not force them to apologize. An apology that happens under duress is almost meaningless. Also, explain, without threatening your child, the consequences of further misbehavior.

Be attentive.

After this situation is resolved, ask your child occasionally how the problem with the other child is developing and watch for any noticeable behavior. If you notice that your child has stopped its dissocial behavior, praise him for it. Talk to the class teacher regularly to know if the situation truly has been resolved or if there are still problems.

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