Most often, the advice given to stop bullying is aimed toward defensive mechanisms for the victims and calls to action for by-standers. These things are very important but what tends to be over-looked are the actions of the bullying child. If you notice your child may be acting out and bullying others, here are a few things you can do to stop it.
Acknowledge the Behavior
Ignoring the bad behavior will only cause more problems, the best way to deal with the issue is to confront it head on. Ask your child what happened, let them tell their side of the story. It is important to avoid putting blame and be a good listener right now. Once they’re finished, it’s time for you to lead them in understanding how their actions affect others. Your child needs to admit that they made a mistake. Guide them to this realization by asking questions such as “Did your actions hurt someone?”, “Would you want someone to treat you like that?”.
Your child needs to know that their actions were not acceptable, and that they will be held accountable. Lay out a clear outline of what was not acceptable and the consequences for their actions. Holding them responsible for their actions is important, or else they will not learn from the situation. You can withhold something precious to them such as a toy or privileged activity. Another option is to turn the situation into a teachable moment; have your child write an apology letter to the other child. Make sure you discuss with them how to handle the situation in a positive manner in the future.
Work on Social Skills and Emotional Intelligence
The goal is to reinforce positive relationships. There will be altercations in every relationship but by teaching your child how to acknowledge their emotions and to be empathetic to others, they will learn better conflict resolution and be able to positively react to confrontations in the future. Seek out extracurricular activities and after school programs to help aid in your child’s progress towards these goals. Working with a counsellor at the school or with a third party is always helpful. Make sure you are in communication with the school to keep in touch about how to improve your child’s behavior.