Bullying is endemic and is something all parents should be concerned about. There’s so much help for students who are being bullied and their parents, but few of us take a moment to consider the bullies. If it’s your child that’s bullying, there are things you can do to remedy the situation.
The first reaction is (understandably) anger. You may feel angry that your child is being mean to other students or you may be angry about the accusations. If you are feeling angry, delay reactions until you feel less emotional about the situation.
Establish the facts
I have been a teacher for many years and its always amazing to me to see how differently students act as soon as their parents enter the room. While you may think that your child is incapable of violence, lying or meanness, you may be surprised at how they act when you are not around. Talk to the teacher, talk to other students and (most importantly) talk to you own student to get a better understanding of what really happened before making any decisions or accusations of your own.
You should also establish whether the incident in question is an isolated one or part of a broader behavioural issue. If the teacher and other students agree that your student has been a bully, it’s important to support the teacher and the school in their approach to bullying.
It’s important to understand your student’s behavior. There are motivating factors for bullying and it’s crucial that you understand what those were so that you can address them too. No matter the motivation, your student must understand that they are responsible for their actions and the consequences of those actions for the students that they bully.
They must also understand that bullying is never an appropriate response to any situation. You can acknowledge the reasons why they bullied and offer other ways in which their frustrations or hurt feelings can be addressed. Its not simply enough to say that behavior is not OK, you must offer alternatives.
Find out what sort of things trigger your student’s bad behavior. Discuss and role-play coping strategies. This could mean counting to ten or walking away when they are angry. Once your students have regained control of their emotions, discuss ways in which they can deal with situations in a more responsible and constructive ways.
Remember that most students have their reasons for bullying. While this behavior is never, ever OK, addressing the root causes and replacing this negative behavior with other coping mechanisms will help to solve the problem over the long term. Any student who bullies another needs help. If your efforts are not successful ensure that they get help from a councilor as soon as possible.