March 2014

Parenting a Bully

Bullying.  One statistic says that 78% of 3rd through 8th graders have recently been bullied.  The bullies are out there.  What if the bully turns out to be your child?  What should you do?

Alicia Corts addresses this dilemma in her article “Could This Be Your Child?  What to do if Your Kid Turns out to be the Bully” (Christian Parenting Today, Spring 2004).  She writes that the first step to changing a bullying behavior is for the child to accept responsibility—not an easy task.  Bullies don’t see their behavior as bullying and will blame the victim.  The parent needs to repeatedly encourage the child to answer “Why?” with “I” statements and not “They were…” statements.  After your child can do this, you can explore the reasons and situation leading up to the bullying behavior decision.

Another tip is to consider how your family reacts to conflict.  Your child may be picking up clues on how to inappropriately handle frustration.  You may have to look outside your family to relatives, the TV, coaches, or your child’s friends to find negative influences on your child.

Even as you are finding the “why” for your child’s behavior, make a plan to deal with the behavior itself.  Keep your child accountable daily for his/her actions—talk about it every day after school.  Help your child think ahead—if this happens, what choices do I have in response.  Talk about how their decisions affect other children.  Watch how your child treats/reacts to siblings. 

If your child is a bully, it’s frustrating and embarrassing—but remember you are not alone in this problem.  Pray with your child and ask God to help your child make good choices.  God will help; he alone can change hearts. 

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