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Is Your Child A Bully?

It felt like someone snuffed out the aurora borealis when we said a shocked good-bye to a young mother after her life was taken. Stealing another’s life is the ultimate bullying.

Our society is far from civilized when violence against women and children continues to escalate. Bullying has never been about race, gender, or culture, and has always been about who is vulnerable and who will exploit the vulnerable.

Can we address bullying early?

If you can imagine another person’s life, that’s compassion. ~ ~Amy Tan

Regrettably, bullying among children has become epidemic. Seventy-four percent of eight- to eleven-year-old students report that they have been bullied at school. Both boys and girls can be a bully. How can you provide boundaries that will make a difference when your child is away from home and at school all day?

Your Child is the Bully. What do you do?

Statistics show that 1 in 5 students is being bullied at any given time. ~ Dignity Revolution

As a parent, it’s essential for you to establish a nonnegotiable boundary forbidding bullying. Set a zero-tolerance for bullying by holding your child accountable for all offensive behavior. Children need to learn at an early age that bullying intimidates, humiliates, and inflicts pain on others. If you discover your child is bullying others, put some of these actions into place:

  • Determine how and where your child learned to bully since bullying is a learned behavior. Was it at after-school care, at home, elsewhere? If you believe the answer may be “at home,” begin working immediately to rid your home environment of bullying. You can tell a child not to bully, but if he sees the behavior at home, your words are ineffective.
  • Help your child discover the motivation behind his bullying. What’s the emotional pay-off for him? What unmet need is he trying to fill? Is it personal, social, or a response to peer pressure?
  • Help your child empathize with his victim(s). Although he knows he is hurting the other person, he may not understand how deeply. Through role play, encourage your child to use words skillfully to resolve conflict. Help him practice saying things kindly.

Firm Expectations and Fair Boundaries

Stand up for the worth, value, and dignity of every person, that’s the Dignity Revolution. ~ Bob Lenz

It’s important that your child learn that his actions have consequences. Talk to your child, clearly stating your expectations, along with firm, fair boundaries. Remind him that if the bullying doesn’t stop there will be repercussions.

Say to your child, “Bullying is wrong and it must stop right now. It’s against the rules at school, at home, and in the Bible. Because you chose to bully, you’ll do two acts of kindness for the person you hurt. You’ll also apologize and replace anything you damaged, paying for it with your own money. If you don’t have the money, you’ll earn it by doing jobs around the house. I love you too much to allow you to keep bullying others. Understand that if you continue to be hurtful, you’ll be choosing not to play with your friends and to sit out of playtime at school.”

Talk With Your Child About Others

When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. ~

As a parent, your most important job is to cultivate humility and the heart of compassion into the heart of your child. Talk to your child about how to treat others. Remind your child that when you choose to treat people the way you want to be treated, you’ll have a soft heart and lasting friendships. Let him know you are confident he can make these changes.

Bullying is not a stage children go through. If not addressed and curbed, a bully’s behavior can escalate. Parents and adults who work with, and influence, youth are responsible to teach children how to live well with others.

Let’s Talk

  • Have you received a call from your child’s school letting you know that your child is bullying others?
  • How did you help your child understand the consequences of his or her actions?
  • Were you able to set clear, established boundaries that led to better choices?

Bullying and victimizing the vulnerable is inhumane and wrong. Be an example to your child by treating others with dignity and teaching your child to honor others.

The parents and children of the young mother will grieve the rest of their lives for the loss of their beloved family member. I imagine the family of the perpetrator are suffering their own grief. People make their own choices. We can teach our children that they can choose not to bully, and not to be bullied.

Does this article help you?


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Meet PeggySue

We’ve heard of soccer moms and stage mothers. I’m a writer who trailers my kids and horses across the nation. My Apple computer, fondly christened MacBeth, is the essential I bring along.