Finding out that your child is bullying
Parents usually find out from someone else that their child is bullying. Your child’s school or a parent may tell you that your child is bullying others. When this happens, it can be confronting and challenging to deal with.
In practical terms, the best response is to find out what is happening and take positive action to resolve or improve the issue. It’s important that you support your child throughout the situation.
If you are contacted directly by a parent, you should approach the school and deal with the issue through them.
How to tell if your child has been bullying
Bullying always involves a repeated pattern of behaviours. It can be repeatedly teasing, imitating or making fun of a child, repeatedly excluding or ignoring a child, or regularly whispering about a child behind their back. Bullies don’t usually show compassion for someone who is experiencing the bullying.
A change in your child’s behaviour may point you to thinking your child is bullying. Or they may be having problems with particular friends or children at school. These don’t necessarily mean that your child is bullying, but it could. If you think your child may be involved in bullying others, take it up with their school.
Approaching the school
Your child’s school is the best place to start with any questions that you have about your child and bullying.
Schools have bullying policies that set out what should happen when a child is being bullied. The school and home should be on the same page as far as possible so that the approach can be consistent and cooperative for everyone involved.
How to help change the situation
If your child is bullying, you may want to discuss with them why they are behaving this way, taking into account any problems they may be facing.
One thing to consider is how your child deals with issues and resolves differences with their friends or their siblings and other family members. They may need support to learn better ways of getting on with other people. For example, your child may need to learn and understand how to resolve conflict, or the value and benefits of treating others with respect.
Some bullies are not aware of how their behaviour affects others. In coming to understand the consequences of their behaviour, your child may also need to learn how to make the situation better and how to take responsibility for their actions.
School guidance counsellors, psychologists or health professionals are some people you can go to for help.