My child has bullied someone – what now?

manage bully

Many children bully others while they are growing up. Most grow out of it with the right guidance, support and education.

Here are some things that you can do if your child is bullying other children:

Talk to your child

  • Stay calm, and focus on changing the behaviour, not labelling the child as ‘a bully’.
  • Acknowledge what has happened; don’t deny it or pretend it was ‘no big deal’.
  • Make sure your child knows bullying is unacceptable and why.
  • Be clear that the bullying must stop at once, and that you’ll be checking to see that it does.
  • Get your child to help you understand why they bullied, and what they thought was happening at the time.
  • Encourage your child to think about how the victimised child must have felt, and to put this into words if they can. Some children are still learning to empathise and be kind to others; these are skills you can help them build.
  • Apply reasonable family rules about behaviour and consequences.
  • Make sure your child knows how to join in games in a friendly way, how to say ‘no’ if their friends are doing something harmful, and how to handle conflict or boredom without trying to dominate or embarrass other people.
  • Work with your child to develop a plan for what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
  • Reflect on what’s been happening in your child’s life that might have made them angry, bored, or looking for attention. Are there other problems that need to be addressed?
  • See other tips here.

Work with the school to solve the problem

Many schools now use restorative approaches rather than punishment, where students involved in the bullying situation reflect on the issues. The student who has been bullying then has to confront the person they have bullied and look for ways to repair the effects of their bullying and restore their relationship.

Reflect on the behaviour your child is exposed to

Children copy their role models and those they spend a lot of time with. Could the bullying be related to something that’s occurred in your family? If you are concerned about things that are happening at home, consider seeking support from your local GP, psychologistParentline, or one of these support services.

Meanwhile, some kids think bullying is acceptable because their friends do it. If this is the case for your child, consider working as a team with other parents to address this problem, or connecting your child to other, more positive friendship groups.

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