Could my child be a bully
Bullying is a problem kids can encounter as a victim, perpetrator, or bystander. If you’re concerned your child is bullying other kids, as a parent you can intervene and stop the behavior.

By: Family - Family - 11/15/2018

If you're concerned your child is bullying other kids, as a parent you can intervene and stop the behavior.  Bullying is a problem kids can encounter as a victim, perpetrator, or bystander.  Around 20–28% of kids in grades 6–12 report experiencing bullying, and about 30% of youth admit to bullying others.  In addition, 70% of students say they have witnessed bullying at school.

Bullying can involve hitting, pushing, or teasing, but it also can involve being relationally aggressive, which includes gossiping (in person, by phone, or via text) and purposefully excluding others.

The reasons kids bully other kids are complex, but these school and home factors could raise the your child's chance of becoming a bully:

  • Rejection by peers.

  • Involvement in situations where aggression is socially acceptable, such as within certain sporting events.

  • Exposure to marital conflict and violence at home.

  • Feeling rejected or ignored by a parent.

  • Enduring physical punishment by a parent.

  • Being allowed to get away with hostile, disrespectful behavior at home.

Kids and teens are still learning how to cope with their feelings, so aggressive behavior is a clue that your child needs to learn more skills for managing emotions.

How Can You Stop Your Child From Being A Bully?

If you're concerned about your child bullying other kids, consider your answers to the following questions and what your proactive next steps could be:

  • Does your child often make you feel angry?  Do you feel she or he is hard to care for?  Kids are more likely to bully others when their parents think they’re bothersome and usually feel angry with the child.  Work on controlling outbursts of anger towards your child by recognizing your triggers, taking a time out, and practicing self-calming skills.

  • Do you know who your child hangs out with?  When parents know their kids' friends and share ideas back and forth with their children, kids are less likely to bully others.  Know where your kids are and who they are with at all times.

  • Can you get support from your child's school?  Educate yourself about the bullying policies at your child's school.  Work with teachers, school counselors, and the principal to connect your child with any in-school help needed.  Inform them of your concern that your child might be bullying others, as well as your efforts to get ahead of the problem.

  • Have you been taking care of your own mental health?  When moms and dads have fair to poor mental health, their kids are more likely to bully others.  Taking care of your own mental health and learning effective strategies to cope with the anger and frustrations of parenting are crucial to controlling your child's bullying.

  • And finally, does your child need additional mental-health or emotional support?  Kids with emotional, developmental, or behavioral concerns are twice as likely to bully compared to other kids, so get your child the additional support he or she might need before bullying becomes a problem.

If your answers suggest any of these factors could be contributing to your child's behavior, it might be time to seek help from outside resources.  Perhaps there's a FOCUS Family Resilience Training program close-by.  MilitaryOneSource offers free, confidential, non-medical counseling face-to-face, online, and by phone or video.

MilitaryOneSource also can connect you with a Military and Family Life Counselor who can help you, your child, and your family.

Bullying behaviors can continue into adulthood, so it's important to find solutions early.  And victims of bullying can really struggle, so if you think your child might be bullying others, take action right away. (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has ideas on how to deal with bullying:  respond quickly and immediately to bullying behavior, find out what happened, and support the kids involved—both the bullies and their victims.

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