What you need to know:
Some of the strategies for parents of teen bullies:
- Keep an eye out for signs of bullying
- Identify the reason
- Discuss healthy re-direct behavior
- Teach empathy
- Give them consequences
- Seek professional help
Have you ever been the target of a bully? It can be one of the most frustrating and downright terrifying experiences in life.
Bullies are often cruel, relentless, and unforgiving. The idea that your child could into this is something that many parents never think will happen to them. Unfortunately, many parents have to deal with teenage bullies.
The painful truth is that bullying doesn't end until the bullies change their behavior and learn how empathise with others.
But this has to start with you, as a parent - it's your responsibility to teach them how to behave in a way that doesn't cause others pain. Here are some strategies for parents of teen bullies:
Keep an eye out for signs of bullying
If you're not sure that your child is a bully, it's essential to look out for signs of bullying. The most obvious sign is if they're constantly bossing other kids around, picking on them, or excluding them. Other signs could include:
- Making racist jokes
- Hiding aggressive feelings under a mask of fake happiness and cheerfulness
If you notice any concerning behavior from your child, talk to them about it right away - don't wait until something terrible happens.
Identify the reason for bullying
Ask your teen why they are bullying others and what they need to work on in their own lives to stop the need for this unhealthy behavior.
For example, if your teenager has poor self-esteem, ask them about ways you can help set realistic goals or provide encouragement.
If your teen is being bullied and then retorts, it may only make the situation worse. Make sure they know how important it is for the victim to speak up instead of fighting.
If it is about anger, find out where this is coming from and how you can help.
Discuss healthy re-direct behavior
Teach them healthy ways of coping with their emotions, such as journaling or taking deep breaths when they feel angry.
Find a hobby for them that can take up some time, so they don't have as much free time to bully others. Try to encourage them to find friends outside of school.
Compliment them often, especially after a good deed. It could help them boost their confidence, making it easy to express what they feel or want.
Teach them empathy, compassion, and tolerance by modelling these qualities yourself. Let them know that the victim's feelings matter and they should learn to respect other people.
For example, help your teen understand what it feels like to be a bully by having them put themselves in the shoes of someone who is being bullied or hurtful behavior.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but teaching your teen about empathy can also be accomplished by letting them do things that will make a difference in other people's lives. It could be volunteering in charity events or helping the less fortunate.
Give them consequences
Set rules for your home so that there aren't any excuses for bullying. If they bully, make sure that there are clear and consistent punishments in place.
The best solution to stop bullying is preventing it, not punishing kids for its occurrence.
To prevent future events, parents should have a conversation with the child about what can be done instead of immediately disciplining them.
For example, grounding privileges such as taking their phones away could be consequences of breaking the rules.
Seek professional help
The most important thing you can do is address your teen's behavior and get treatment for any underlying issues causing them to behave this way.
Be sure to seek support from friends and family. Get help from the school administration or law enforcement, whichever you deem is best.
A therapist, counselor, or psychologist will provide a safe environment where teens can talk about what has happened and how they are feeling.
They will be able to give you advice about managing their behavior at school, providing support during this difficult time, and teaching them coping strategies.
Know that you are not alone, and that there is always someone out there who understands your pain as a parent of an angry teen bully.
As the saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child." Reach out for help when needed so everyone can live in peace without any negative consequences from bullying behaviors.
Accept that your teen is a bully and know that it's not easy to deal with this parenting issue.