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What If My Child is the Bully? — Wellbeing with Collett

By Collett Smart - psychologist 1 min read

Bullying has terrible effects on the victims involved but one of the toughest things to hear from your child’s school is that your own child is the bully. Heres what you can do to help your child.

  1. Stay calm and take time to process the information.
  2. Address the bullying directly. This demonstrates awareness and that bullying is not acceptable in your family.
  3. Avoid shaming your child and look for a pattern. Communicate that they can talk to you about their own insecurities and fears. Take time to find out the underlying need for their behaviour.
  4. Remind your child that bullying is a choice and they can choose to stop. Talk about the different forms of bullying (emotional, physical and psychological, and be sure to include the online forms).
  5. Talk about the consequences for the victims. Help your child to acknowledge their responsibility and recognise exactly what it is they have done.
  6. Set age-appropriate consequences for their behaviour, support the school’s plan for consequences and check in regularly to track your child’s progress.
  7. If your child is both a bully and a victim, help them stop their own behaviour but develop skills to deal with being bullied themselves. (Your child may have decided to be a bully in an unhealthy form of self-preservation.)
  8. Be a role model. Over the next few months, talk often about healthy friendships and what being a good friend looks like (use books, movies and stories to help you).
  9. Help your child to develop new skills that might improve their sense of worth (sport, arts, activities).
  10. Ask a counsellor for help in teaching your child social and emotional skills.          

Collett Smart is a psychologist, qualified teacher and author with more than 20 years experience. She is mum to three children and appears regularly on national television and radio, as an expert on children and family issues.

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