Your Health Tamar Raucher | one year ago

Help! My Child’s A Bully

Bullying – name-calling, teasing, hitting, spreading lies – is a form of aggression. And kids bully for a variety of reasons.

Some do it because they feel more important when they single out someone who appears emotionally or physically weaker. Others do it because they simply haven’t learned it’s wrong to pick on people because of their abilities, looks, race or religion. Rhonda Patt, MD, has worked as a pediatrician at Charlotte Pediatric Clinic for almost a decade and says bullying should never be ignored. “At the root of bullying is a child who is not managing conflict well,” says Dr. Patt. “If the behavior is ignored, studies show that bullies will go on to have relationship issues later in life.” Nearly 25 percent of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Bullies sometimes exhibit a pattern of defiant, aggressive behavior with parents and adults, says Dr. Patt. They often lack cooperation skills and need help coping with strong emotions, such as anger and grief, or family troubles, such as a move to a new city or a divorce. “With bullying, there are three types of people involved or affected: bullies, victims and bystanders,” says Dr. Patt. “Often times, the bystanders have more power than they know. It’s imperative to enforce a no-tolerance policy on bullying. We need to empower children to stand up for what is right.” Facing the Problem When a child gets accused of bullying, parents sometimes take a stance of denial, but it takes a brave parent to admit their child needs help. Professional counseling and other intervention techniques can help children cope with their feelings, improve social skills and curb negative behaviors. Parents also need to model behavior that reduces social bullying in children, says Dr. Patt. That means never excluding someone from a social group, mocking others because of their appearance or spreading negative gossip. If your child is accused of hurting others, use it as an opportunity to discuss bullying, says Dr. Patt. Be sure to keep details about the accuser private so you don’t increase tensions between the children. “While it’s natural to want to defend your child if they get accused of bullying, it’s important to take time to process the situation before jumping on the defensive,” says Dr. Patt. Help Stop Bullying If school officials or parents identify your child as a bully, or if you notice aggressive and harmful behaviors in your child, here are some key steps to consider:
  • Get to the root cause. When a child does something hurtful, it often means they’re struggling somehow.
  • Be supportive but firm. Listen to your child’s side of the story, but hold them accountable and let them know bullying won’t be tolerated.
  • Encourage empathy. Ask your child to see things from the victim’s perspective.
  • Once your child recognizes they hurt someone, have them apologize. Meet with the people involved, listen and let them know you will work to stop the bullying.
  • Enlist family, teachers and school officials to help and report back to you.
  • Consider your own behaviors that may show it’s okay to bully or hurt others.
  • As a family, commit to changing harmful behaviors.
Types of bullying
  • Physical: This is the most obvious form of bullying. It involves a child using strength to overpower others (e.g. hitting, tripping, ruining another’s property)
  • Verbal: This form of bullying is usually done away from adults or witnesses, making it harder to identify. It involves a child using words to belittle or demean others (e.g. teasing, name-calling, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments)
  • Psychological or social: This involves lying and manipulating to destroy someone’s social standing. Social bullies start rumors and purposefully ostracize peers. (e.g. spreading lies, embarrassing people in public, excluding them)
  • Electronic/Cyberbullying: This uses social media, email, video or text messages to tease, taunt or intimidate.

Helpful Links These sites are loaded with resources for kids and adults:

stopbullying.gov               stompoutbullying.org               pacer.org/bullying