How To Stop Bullying Behaviour

If your child is a bully, it’s important to examine the issue honestly. Bullying is seldom just an isolated incident. It is also rarely ‘just the child’s fault’, and you may need to analyse your parenting styles and society’s norms and values. This may be tough at first, but making those key changes is very liberating, and well worth it! In a nutshell:

Use a gentler, more sensitive parenting approach; gentle parenting is not weak, but is in fact, infinitely strong.

Think clearly about the example and subliminal messages you are sending to your child, and tone down any overly sharp-edged, critical behaviour.

Spend more time doing fun, meaningful things with your child – be ‘at home’ when you are together and treat time with your child as a priority that nothing else surpasses; this will teach her to be a considerate playmate and respectful, yet strong child.

Use the skill of distraction if your child shows growing signs of aggression or frustration. This teaches your child that although he may have wanted to take out his feelings on others, there is a more constructive, positive way to channel that negative energy.

When there is serious bullying, make sure that the ‘victim’ is immediately comforted, but then distracted and involved in fun social activities with others, to ensure that victim mentality is not accidentally instilled.

If your little one continues to display unacceptable behaviour toward others, simply say a firm ‘no’ and take him or her away from the child who is being bullied; then turn around and walk away, not making any further eye contact or conversation. Keep moving as your little one will probably follow you and make their feelings known increasingly loudly. Play music to help soothe you (and your toddler). By letting your child get to you now, you would be the audience, and your child the actor! Remove the audience, and no actor will perform.

Ask yourself if your young bully is really ready for full-time daycare if this is where the problem occurs. He may be acting out because he isn’t getting enough one-on-one care for his age (quite common under three years) or the emotional handling at daycare is harsh or forceful. If you think this is the case, think about using a day mother or nanny instead.

Little ones who bully often show aggression to parents and other adults as well. It is best not to smack your little one, as he’ll quite simply learn that while it is unacceptable for him to be aggressive, adults are allowed to be aggressive – a mixed message that will spiral out of control, sooner or later.