How would you react when you find out that your child is a bully in school? Your stomach flips and your defensive impulses kicks in because it’s hard to accept the truth? It’s totally normal! Any parents will be devastated and heart-broken to find out that our own child is a bully and causing trouble to other kids. However, bullying is an alarming act, and it is important to address the problem and take actions right away – not just for the sake of the victims but to nip this behaviour in the bud. In this article, we will explore ways that you can take to curb this issue.

Understand the Situation

The first thing you need to do is to get a detailed picture of what happened, so you can tailor your strategies better. Talk to your child in a calm but firm tone and ask him to explain to you what happened and why he or she behaved in that manner. You have to be a good listener and avoid blaming, because it may not be entirely his or her fault.

Girl listening to parent talking

Acknowledge the Behavior

Next, you will need to acknowledge their behaviour and talk to them firmly about the consequence of their actions. “Do you think what you did was right? Did it hurt your friend? Would you want your friend to do the same to you?” Joking and teasing might seem fun to you, but it can be hurtful to another. Kids need to understand that it is okay to admit their mistakes and not to repeat them. Also, it is important to emphasize on mutual respect between each other, and treat others like how you would like to be treated.

Parents can outline the consequences of bullying, write them down, review them once a week and enforce them. Depending on the circumstances, you may remove or reduce your child’s privilege as a punishment such as their cell phone, TV, game or social outing. You can also get your child to write a paragraph what it feels like to be in the other child’s shoes and write an apology letter.

Lilo apologises for her mistake

Breathing Techniques or Meditation

If your child has problem with their temper or anger management, have him practise breathing techniques or meditation. There are a lot of breathing and meditation guide that you can follow on Spotify or Youtube. Whenever you see your child behaving aggressively, tell them to stop, remove them from the situation, and practice breathing with them. Remember to also talk to them about how they should have reacted in situations like that the next time.

Calm down

Work Closely with the School and Teachers

Get involved in your child’s school and collaborate with the teachers to monitor your child’s progress. This allow you and the school to identify the situation better and find the right strategy to solve it. Also, it is important to know the friends your child is hanging out with and reinforce those relationships that are positive and inclusive to other children.

It's okay to get help

Spend time with your child

Don’t expect the teachers at school to turn your child around because they, alone cannot do magic. Parents hold the biggest responsibility in educating your child and besides, your child spends most of their time at home. Just a 20 minutes one-on-one conversation a day can alter a child’s behaviour.

Read: Fun Activities to do with your Kids at Home

Build your Child’s Social and Emotional Skills

As your child has not learned resilience, it is not easy for them to identify their emotions and control them well. Parents can empower your child since young to build skills in handling tough situations and resolving conflicts. This enable them to improve their social and emotional skills such as self-management, social agility, self-awareness, resilience and decision-making. There are many available extracurricular activities that you can enrol your child. Trust me, start when they are young as this is a lifelong gift for them when they’re on their own.

Monitor their Online Activities and Set Restriction

While cyberbullying has been increasing drastically, parents must stay involved in your child’s cyber world, just as much as in their real world. Do observe your children’s behaviour, know what platforms, apps and sites your children visit and what they do online. Another good measure for parents is to utilise the parenting control functions that most devices have, and block any sites or apps that you think are harmful for your children.

Kid using computer

Read: Parenting Your Child in the Digital Age

Preventive Measure

Parents can take the responsibility to educate our children about bullying and cyberbullying even before anything happens. It is as equally as important as sex education, and kids rely on us adults to guide them through what’s right and wrong. Most of the bullies do not even realise what they’re doing is wrong.

Being kind

Read: Sex Education for Kids

Consult a Child’s Counsellor and Psychologist

Ultimately, if you don’t see any improvements in their anger management after all the effort, do seek professional help from a child counsellor or psychologist. They will be able to help talk to your child and improve their social skills and confidence, which in turn reduce the risk of bullying. After all, they are the professionals.

Child Psychology

Read: Is Our Mental Health Worsening?

If you’re not sure if your child is a bully, do click here to learn about the warning signs or red flags that may indicate that your child is a bully. Or if it’s the other way round, do read our articles 12 Signs your Child is Being Bullied and What to do if your Child is being Bullied?

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