Is Your Child The Bully?Mar 24, 2014
When you hear stories about bullying, it’s generally about the victim. But have you ever considered that it might be your child that’s the bully? Dr. Cindy Gellner discusses the differences between joking around and bullying and what you need to know and should do if your child is the bully.
Dr. Cindy Gellner: So some parents might be surprised to find that their sweet and innocent child at home might actually be bullying other kids at school or online. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner and we'll talk about that next on The Scope.
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Dr. Cindy Gellner: So what is bullying and what do you need to know and do if your child is a bully? Kids who are bullies are those kids that act aggressively towards others. It can be physically abusive, sexually abusive, verbally, or you can be cyber bullied. Kids quite often will get on Facebook or Twitter and they will tease other kids on Facebook where it's very public and all of those friends can see exactly what that child is saying about the others. It's extremely hurtful; it has even caused some kids to commit suicide because they have been hurt so badly by these bullies.
So how can you tell the difference between just joking around and when your child is actually bullying other kids? It helps to look at what your child is doing from the victim's point of view. Does the victim consider it fun? Or does the victim get their feelings really hurt? Does it cause physical or emotional pain?
What do you really need to know if your child who is so normal at home, you get a phone call from the school or find out from the other child's parent that your child is actually being a bully? What do you need to know?
The first thing you need to know is you need to be a good role model and you need to step up and be a parent and let your child know, in no uncertain terms, that is not appropriate behavior. Kids who bully do so for many reasons. They may be bored and they want some excitement, they want the thrill of being able to have all this drama. They may want to feel powerful around their friends. They may not actually understand how they're making the other child feel.
And that's really important to address because they need to understand empathy from another child's point of view. They may want to get revenge or hurt others because they are upset. They may try to pick on others because it boosts their popularity. Or they may target anyone they see is different.
The kid that has, you know, that's the bookworm, the kid might be just, you know, just someone who can't really defend themselves. The bottom line is bullies simply do not care what they are doing or saying and they don't care that it's hurtful to the victim.
The one thing that's concerning is many children who bully also have parents who are verbally and physically abusive to them. That is one thing that seems to be a trend in the kids that we see. The kids that are talked to in a very harsh tone of voice, they're criticized and said that they themselves are good or bad kids, not that they behavior is good or bad, but the kids are bad.
The kids that get everything that they want, it doesn't matter what they're asking for. "It's okay, we'll get it for you." not understanding, you know, you can't get everything that you want. You have to understand limits.
Some parents may not even realize that they are being bullies to their own children on a consistent basis and not giving them love but just speaking harshly to them and scolding them, punishing them, being physically abusive with hitting them, things like that. Because their parents did it to them and their parents did it to their parents and it does become a vicious cycle. It's a domestic violence issue honestly.
So the big thing that parents need to do is say, "I'm breaking this cycle. I'm going to be a good parent to my child. If I don't know how to be a good parent to my child, I'm going to look into parenting classes so I can learn how to be a good parent to my child. I can teach my child what behaviors are seen as good and positive in the eyes of others. "
So one of the hardest things to do might just be accepting the fact that your child could possibly be a bully based on feedback from others. So take the time to get all the information you need and listen to the people involved. Listen to the other parents if they're involved, listen to the school principal if he's involved or she's involved. You need to make sure that your child sees that the adults around them are concerned and taking this seriously.
If your child continues to bully others, you need to get help for him or her as soon as possible. Treatment works better if started earlier in life and sometimes you need to even do individual, family, or even group therapy depending on the situation. Your child needs to learn new ways of behaving towards others and better ways to think about how to help with their aggressiveness and irritability.
Sometimes in very severe cases medication might be necessary from a psychiatrist. Without help, bullying can lead to serious problems in school, their social networks, emotional behaviors and even legal problems. So it's very important you take this seriously and ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a psychiatrist if you need it.
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