Shock waves raced through Joan’s spine as she listened to the horror her awesome son wreaked upon another child. How could she ever begin to think her child is the bully? He didn’t learn that at home! There must be a mistake. He’s not that kind of kid.
There was no mistake. Sitting in the principal’s office along with three other parents, tears streamed down Joan’s face as she listened in shock.
Knowing that there’s always another side or two to every story, she kept an open mind, neither agreeing nor defending. She collected all the facts.
At home, she let Matt know how mortified she was. Why - what provoked this hurtful behavior? It was so far removed from his character.
Was Matt influenced by the others? Regardless, he made the wrong choice and if it’s true, there are consequences to face and possibly counseling to consider.
Did she miss any signs?
Recognizing the Signs
If your Child:
Appears with clothing, books, toys etc. that aren’t his
Suddenly hangs up the phone or stops talking as you approach
Shuts the computer or switches screens when you are near
Threatens or speaks harshly to another child or gossips about another child
Laughs if another child is hurt, enjoys watching violent scenes on TV and video games
Grabs toys from other children
Has a short fuse and is easily frustrated
Why Children Bully
Some bully because they have a great sense of entitlement and some because of a low self-esteem.
Too many kids bully because they can. Nobody challenges them.
Others bully because they have been bullied at home or at school.
There may be some turmoil in their life. Their parents may be going through a divorce or perhaps they have lost a family member.
They may have been goaded into it or have a low self-esteem and lack the confidence to exercise their options – like, “No!”
It’s important for parents to model respectful behavior. Your kids take their cues from you.
What to do?
Calmly talk to your child and find out exactly what happened. Perhaps he was threatened and not participating meant being targeted. Determine if and why he felt peer pressure or the need to belong to a popular group that hurts others?
Use some unstructured role-playing and discuss what it would feel like to be in the target’s shoes.
Ensure your child apologizes verbally and in a letter.
Follow-up with the school or with the other bullied child’s mother or father.
Suggest your child speak to a bullying expert – even for one session. Every child needs to understand the gravity and effect of their aggressive behavior on the bullied child.
PARENTS! PARENTS! PARENTS!
Over 60% of children in grades 6 though nine who are characterized as bullies, go on to have at least one criminal conviction by 24 years of age, if there is no intervention.
Stay close to your children. Really listen to them – between the lines. Allow them to be heard. Communicate with them daily and build trust so they know that you are the safe and loving place to come to when they need help.
Champions Against Bullying’s Founder, Alexandra Penn and Director of Operations, Leigh Rachel Faith, offer Prevention Strategies, Intervention Advice and Immediate Solutions in their workshops and Private Supportive Coaching Sessions for Kids, Parents and Educators. Stay tuned for their soon to be released book on Bullying and Social Skills for the pre-school crowd. Visit their website and download some complimentary information: