All parents worry that their son or daughter might become the target of bullying. But for every parent of a child who is bullied, there is also a parent of a bully. If you’re concerned that your child might be a bully or is witnessing another child being tormented, consider these clues to assess his behavior.
1. Your child is quick to anger or has a tendency to get into physical or verbal fights.
2. You’ve witnessed or have heard his friends bullying others.
3. He is increasingly aggressive and blames other people when things don’t go his way.
4. He gets sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently.
5. He has unexplained extra money or new belongings.
6. He’s overly competitive and worries excessively about his reputation, popularity or circle of friends.
If your child has bullied another child, he may want to apologize quickly and move beyond the incident. The bullied child may want his tormenter to pay a higher price.
“The best course to follow if you suspect your child is a bully is to do what works for any other infraction your child commits,” says Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Begun Center for Violence Prevention at Case Western Reserve University. Timmons-Mitchell recommends a four-step process that sets a meaningful consequence for your child at home, in addition to whatever discipline he may face at school.
Help your child prepare a strong, sincere apology that includes: 1. Acknowledging the unwanted behavior 2. Accepting responsibility for the hurtful actions 3. Accepting responsibility for the consequences of the behavior 4. Making a plan for restitution
“Adding the last component—making restitution—can help make the link between how your child feels when he is bullied and how the other child feels,” Timmons-Mitchell says. “This is important. It is the beginning of developing empathy.”
For more on how you can prevent bullying behavior, visit www.stopbullying.gov.
Claire Yezbak Fadden is a freelance writer and mother of three sons. Follow her on Twitter @claireflaire.
Published: September 2014