With the increasing campaigns in schools against bullying, more parents are likely to be concerned about their child being on the receiving end. Parents who discover that their child is bullying others are less likely to have the support of the school system, the sympathy of other parents or the variety of resources dedicated to helping them correct the problem. Although parents in this situation fall anywhere from denial to shame, their child is most likely exhibiting behaviors that are not their fault. Parents are only truly culpable when they do nothing to curb their child’s behavior.
If you are unsure of what to do with your bullying child, there are a number of things you can do to help him learn to interact with his peers in healthier way.
· Keep an open mind – If you have received more than one report of your teen picking on others, there is probably something to the accusation. Talk calmly and rationally to the teacher or parents involved in order to get a clear idea of the incident before you approach your teen.
· Talk openly - Your child may attempt to skew the story in his favor by claiming that he was ‘just teasing’ or joking around. If you believe this is true, treat it as an opportunity to discuss social cues as well as how their peers might not appreciate being teased. Your teen might need some practice in empathy and respect.
· Define the limits – Make your expectations regarding bullying very clear to your teen. He should know that bullying is not okay and you will not tolerate it. Reports of bullying should result in immediate action on your part. Let your child know that you will be working closely with the school or other institution involved to make sure that he behaves himself.
· Provide consequences – The consequences for bullying should involve a meaningful penalty, such as a loss of valued privileges. When possible, give your teen the opportunity to make things right with the victim.
· Set a good example – Make sure that you are maintaining a home environment that encourages nonviolent behavior and cooperative problem solving. Your teen learns more than you think by watching how you handle things on a day to day basis.
· Positive reinforcement – Teens respond when their parents notice their efforts to handle conflict, show compassion and deal with emotions in a healthy way. Studies indicate that positive feedback is actually more effective than punishment, although parents should also be realistic and understand that it can take time to change certain behavior patterns.
· Seek help – Your teen might be struggling with an issue that is causing him to act out. If the above methods aren’t working, it might be time to take your child to see a therapist or counselor that specializes in bullying behavior.
Liahona Academy is a residential treatment facility that specializes in helping troubled boys. If your son could benefit from full time therapy and coaching, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-675-8101.