It always starts with a phone call.
You pick up your phone and learn that your child’s teacher is on the line. You probably started wondering if something happened to your child. And true enough, something DID happen to your child.
“We have gotten complaints that your child hurt his classmate,” your child’s teacher said.
And you know what that means: your child has bullied someone.
You might have probably felt heartbroken, and started wondering what your child could have done and where your child could have picked up that habit.
Unfortunately, children bully others for numerous reasons. According to Explore Parents, factors can range from a sense of entitlement to exposure to what is seen on TV. Sometimes your child can pick this up from school as well. Child Mind Institute also asserts that bullying occurs whenever your child finds a need to fit in with other peers. Or your child might have possibly been bullied in the past and is channeling it to others.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your child change his or her attitude, and the best way is to start the communication at home:
“Please tell me what happened.”
Be honest in letting your child know that you got a call from school and tell her/him what happened. Tell your child what you heard from their teacher in a brisk but not harsh manner. Then let them explain their side. Listen to them and make sure not to judge or while doing so.
“Was that the right thing to do?”
After listening to your child’s side, ask them if what they did was the right thing to do. Again, don’t raise your voice and be patient. Your child needs to understand what is right and wrong so they can distinguish the difference between both concepts.
“Did you hurt someone? Would you want someone to do that to you?”
Once you’ve listened to your child’s story from his point of view, ask them what they have done to whoever they have bullied and patiently make them understand what’s wrong by showing them what it’s like from their victim’s point-of-view. Relate the victim’s story to how your child would see it so they can understand the impact of their actions on other people.
“We don’t behave that way in the family. We respect other people and you don’t want others to treat you that way, right?”
Reach out to your child’s conscience by telling them that such behavior is not tolerated in the family. After all, behavior also starts at home and teaching your child to channel towards other people the same amount of love and respect they receive, and that this is essential if you really want to start anew.
“When someone asks if he wants to play with you, say yes.”
Teach your child the importance of being nice to others. By doing so, you’re letting your child know that nobody tolerates this kind of behavior. If your child is intentionally trying to isolate their classmate from others whenever the latter asks to be included in a group work, for instance, tell them that it’s better to say yes.
And while you’re doing this, always make sure to collaborate with your child’s teachers, the victim’s parents, and other key people like the resident guidance counselors in school on how to best help your child improve.
Ultimately, what’s important is being able to establish an open communication between you and your child. After all, this is a phase that children have yet to outgrow. And most importantly: do not blame or judge your child for his mistakes while talking to him. At the end of the day, your child still needs to know that you love and care about him or her.