What to do When Your Own Teen is a Bully

Teen bullying is on the rise, with up to 30% students in the US facing the horror every year. According to a study done in 2014, roughly 160,000 students miss school every day just because of bullying. The unfortunate thing is that most parents of bullies are unaware of what their kids are up to, thus putting no effort whatsoever in making them stop. Those who do learn about their kids’ role in bullying find themselves clueless on how to handle the situation. If you have recently come to know that your teen is a bully, then it is imperative that you take the matter seriously and commit yourself to reforming your youngster. Here are a few things that you must get down to immediately upon learning that you’re parenting a bully.

Ask for an Explanation

You may feel angry upon learning of your kid’s atrocious behavior, but it isn’t the right time to vent it, especially if you want to deal with the problem effectively. Joel Haber, a PhD and a bullying expert, suggests asking the kid what really happened, and how he ended up harming someone. Listen to his version of the story with an open mind. Avoid jumping to a conclusion. Don’t let your emotions, especially your anger, cloud your objectivity.

Try to Find Reasons behind such Behavior

There is always a solid reason behind any abnormal behavior exhibited by kids. It’s your job to find that reason. Bullying may be your teen’s way of dealing with depression, anxiety, loneliness, lower self-esteem, peer pressure etc. It could even be his way of getting noticed or acknowledged by others, or his revenge on those who hurt him in the past. Try to get to the bottom of the problem.

Get him to Realize and Accept his Mistake

Teens usually do not accept their mistake easily because of anger, stubbornness or fear. So chances are your kid would try to put the blame on someone else for his actions, or find lame excuses to justify his behavior. You need to get him to realize and accept his mistake. Also make him realize that hurting anyone physically, verbally or through any other means is not acceptable on any grounds, and that everyone is accountable for his actions.

Ask him to Apologize and Compensate for his Actions

Encourage the teen to apologize and compensate for his behavior not only to the victim, but also his/her family. This can only be achieved once you’ve successfully gotten your kid to realize that he was doing something wrong and that the only way to make amends is to approach the victim, offer a genuine apology, and show the remorse through his actions.

Long-term Solution to the Problem

Getting the teen to accept his mistakes and apologize for his behavior is certainly not the end of the story. Parents should make sure that this never happens again. Counseling is the best way to ensure this. Ask him what he will feel if someone does the same thing with him. Listen to his problems and resolve them to avoid this situation in the future. It’s also best to closely monitor his behavior at least for a few weeks. If he continue showing aggressive behavior and tries to harm anyone, then seek professional advice. You must also inform school management about bullying behavior of your kid, so that they can keep a close eye on him while he is at school.

Bullying does not necessarily mean that your kid is a bad person. It’s just a behavior that can be reformed if you play your role. Give him a chance to improve himself instead of scolding and punishing him all the time. Also make sure you are not being aggressive towards your partner, kids, neighbors or anyone else as kids pick up a great deal from their elders, especially their parents.

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