Some days my children make me proud and other days, well – let’s just say they give me palpitations! But after 16 years in the job, I have resigned myself to the fact that the big highs and big lows are just part of the parenting rollercoaster ride.
But as far as lows go – I think discovering your child has been bullying other children is really tough. Perhaps you found some aggressive comments on your child’s Facebook page or maybe it was a call from the school about ‘less than desirable online activity’. Many parents go into denial when they hear the news – and I totally get that. ‘Not my daughter. She would have never done that!’
But sometimes you just have to attack a problem head on. So, if you find yourself in this situation, here are a few things you can do:
1) Ask Yourself Why?
Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander, believes that bullying is caused by contempt – a disrespectful attitude towards someone. So, try and identify why your child acted in such a way. According to Barbara Coloroso, contempt is a learned behaviour that can be unlearned with guidance.
2) Talk Calmly To Your Child
Speak calmly to your child and get a full understanding of the situation. Communicate your disappointment and explain why the behaviour is unacceptable.
3) What is Happening at Home?
Ensure there is no bullying at home. Sometimes bullying can become an automatic part of family life so no-one in the family realises it is happening.
4) Encourage Empathy
Empathetic children are less likely to bully. ‘How would you feel…?’ is a powerful question to ask bullies. Involve the child in volunteer work to help them develop empathy.
5) Find An Outlet
A sporting team or drama group can be a positive outlet for excess energy whilst teaching the value of positive teamwork.
6) Insist on Restorative Justice
Restorative justice is a powerful process during which the bully acknowledges the behaviour, makes amends and figures out how to prevent it.
So, before you even think about beating yourself up, please remember that people can change – you can turn this situation around. The most important thing you can do is support your child, encourage them to acknowledge their behaviour and make amends. You will be doing them a huge favour.