The road in life can also be rocky for those who bully. Children and teens that learn to see aggression as power may stop caring about the difference between right and wrong in general. One thing we know is that a bully’s behavior that is not corrected at an early stage can turn into other worse behaviors like skipping class, dropping out of school, vandalism, using weapons or even murder. Researchers have identified other risk factors such as depression and personality disorders, as well as quickness to burst out in anger. Bullies can get addicted to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others’ actions as hostile, just to preserve their self image.
Failing to fix a bully’s behavior may result in your community becoming an unsafe place for your children.
As research tells us, the most common traits that bullies represent are:
} Dominating others
} Using other people
} Everything is about them – wants and needs
} Craving attention
These common traits are not the only factors that cause children to become bullies.
“What happens behind a family’s closed doors doesn’t always stay there, especially when it comes to repeating bad behavior. Bullies — and the victims of schoolyard bullying — often experience the same violence at home, a new study suggests. Reuters reports researchers at the Centers for Disease Control found that middle school- and high school-aged bullies and victims reported being physically hurt by a family member or witnessing violence at home significantly more than those who had not been bullied.
They also crave a lot of attention and in a family of five that may not always be possible. If a child is not receiving the attention or love that they desire, they sometimes act out and bully others for that desired attention. If bullying is a learnt behavior, then we can conclude that many children who become bullies learn that particular behavior from their parents or through sibling rivalries.
If your child turns out to be a bully- how would you react?
It can be a real shock to learn that one’s own child is exhibiting bullying behavior. It is hard to accept that even after all the attention we give at home; the child could still mistreat other children right under our noses. But even if this happens, we must avoid overreaction and view this situation calmly and rationally -through a different window.
We understand that the first reaction of any parent would be to be defensive. Defending one’s child is the most natural tendency of any parent. When told that your child has been bullying other kids, you definitely would feel let down. You would also feel as if you have failed to teach him/her how to be respectful to others. Even most of the researchers in the field would lay the blame for a child’s behavior on his poor parenting, thereby indicting you.
Instead of getting angry at yourself or at the child, what you actually need to do when faced with such a situation is to calm yourself for a few minutes. Just relax yourself and stop yourself from getting angry. You must remember that even though the child is trying to be tough outside, deep inside he/she is still a child who looks up to his/her parents. If instead of being angry at him/her, you calmly explain to him/her that you are disappointed with him/her because of what he/she has done; it will have a much greater impact on him/her.
Instead of asking generic questions on why he/she behaved that way, you need to sit with him/her and ask him/her whether he/she is unhappy with something. First, you need to ask him/her whether someone has been bullying him/her, which has led them to retaliate. Many times, it is the pent-up anger on being bullied which a child takes out on someone whom he/she can bully.
You should talk to him/her about how he/she is doing at school, whether he/she is getting along with other kids in the school, how his/her peers are treating him/her, what he/she thinks about other kids in the school or the home neighborhood.
Lastly, you should ask him/her the reasons that prompted them to bully other kids. Get to know from them whether it’s his/her first time or if he/she has been bullying other children for a while. Hear out what his/her reasons are and then talk to him/her about what steps should be taken to stop him/her from bullying.
It would be a good option to schedule a few sessions with the school counselor (who would be the best person, after you of course, to help your child get back on the right track again).
- Take deep breaths and stay calm.
- Don’t rush into a confrontation with your child, school authorities or other parents. Formulate some kind of plan by gathering the information. As a responsible parent, you need to understand the situation from the point of view of everyone involved – especially from the point of view of your own child.
 Mary Beth Sammons, Parent Dish, Bullying and Being Bullied Start at home, Study Finds, April 25, 2011, http://www.parentdish.com/2011/04/25/bullying-study (June 2, 2012)