It seems unthinkable that your child could be bullying at school. But even the best parents can have a child who is bullying other children. I know, I had one of them.
When my sweet and obedient daughter was thirteen, I got a call from the school that she was gossiping hurtful untruths about a couple of other girls. At first, I denied that this was possible. Surely the other girls were making up lies about her to get her in trouble. But to her credit, she admitted it when I asked her about it. I had to then step back and consider that there are aspects of my daughter I hadn’t seen before. Child bullying is becoming more and more the norm of school today. Here are some signs your child may be bullying other kids and how to handle it.
1. They are fixated on popularity.
Does your child spend an excessive amount of energy on their public presentation like clothing, hairstyle, makeup, or getting followers on social media? While all teens do this to some extent, evaluate if your child is balanced in their overall sense of who they are without it.
How to handle it: Discuss together what truly gives a person value. Emphasize that value doesn’t come from how a person looks but who a person is on the inside. Remind them that wanting to be liked is normal. But trying to be better than everyone else is not how to find acceptance in life. Bring out pictures of admired family members, friends, or people of influence who don’t fit popular demands for physical perfection. Discuss together what qualities they have that make them admirable. Limit time on social media and entertainment that promotes physical beauty.
2. They make a lot of judgmental comments.
Does your teen often make disparaging comments about people in public or on the screen? Do they constantly make judgments about a person’s weight, looks, or style? This might be an opportunity to pay attention to your own comments about others.
How to handle it: Talk to them about how judging others causes us to judge ourselves and ultimately makes us feel inadequate. Practice together admiring qualities in others and pointing out good things about them. Every life has value and looks have nothing to do with that.
3. They lack empathy for others.
Does your child feel bad for someone who is struggling? Do they show remorse for times they are hurtful to you or to other family members?
How to handle it: If not, you can teach them to see from another person’s perspective. Discuss with them what it might be like to be that person and how it must feel when your child hurt them. Tell your child how it feels when they are hurtful to you. Take them to serve others by volunteering or going on a mission trip.
4. They act aggressively when they don’t get their way.
Does your child lash out verbally or physically when they don’t like their circumstances? Is your child verbally or physically mean to their siblings? Can they manage their anger in appropriate ways? Is there violence in the home or outburst of anger from parents? Your child may be emulating behaviors in the home.
How to handle it: Teach your child how to handle anger appropriately. Get help from a therapist or take an anger management class if you can’t control your own anger.
5. They emulate what they see on TV a lot.
Does your child regularly watch reality shows with lots of drama? Reality shows, talk shows, political debates, and social media often express opinions in disrespectful ways. What seems like entertainment can actually teach immature minds that it’s okay to be hateful and demeaning to other people.
How to handle it: Watch shows that celebrate people and respects their differences.
Tell us! How has bullying affected your child?