We fathers love taking pride in our kids and we like to imagine that they are the perfect little children. Unfortunately, the opposite is sometimes true and it comes as a shock to most of us.
Take for instance the issue of bullying. When this topic is brought up, most of us think of our kids as the victims, but what if it was the other way around?
What if your child is the bully, tormenting their classmates with name-calling, taunts and maybe even physical violence? What if you received a phone call from your child’s school letting you know that the teen son you’re so proud of bullies others? Or that your sweet teen daughter is a cyberbully on social media and loves spending her time online spreading rumors or harassing her peers?
How would you help your child get over their bullying behavior?
Well, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge how learning that your child is a bully makes you feel. No doubt you’ll be shocked, disappointed, mortified, ashamed and heartbroken. Accepting these feelings, realizing that your child’s behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of who they are nor of your parenting skills allows you to go beyond your emotions and focus on the real issue – your teen’s bullying behavior.
In order to address this issue, you should educate yourself first on bullying, why it happens, why some kids do it and the warning signs to look out for. The more knowledgeable you are the more confident you’ll feel about helping your child.
Here’s how you can go about helping them:
Discussing the issue.
Find an appropriate time to talk through the issue with your teen. Be direct and open to hearing their side of the story. Listening to them may reveal the cause of their behavior and it might give you an inkling of how to deal with the matter.
When setting out to help your teen overcome their bullying behavior, you should also examine your own actions. Maybe you unwittingly expose your child to aggressive or unkind situations at home and they’re emulating this. Are you the kind of dad who encourages your son to act tough and aggressive because you think it’s manly? Do you talk down at those you consider weak, helpless or different?
This is an excellent time for you to model the kind of behavior you want your child, especially your teen son, to emulate. This includes being kind and compassionate to others, treating your spouse and friends with respect as well as not using force to get your own way when having a disagreement.
Forging a strong relationship with your teens.
One of the most common reasons kids bully others is because they are looking for attention and they haven’t been able to get it any other way. Research has shown kids with active fathers have fewer behavioral problems so take time to get involved in your teen’s life and build a strong relationship with them.
Helping your teen learn to manage his emotions.
Another reason kids resort to bullying is because they have poor control over their emotions. As their father, you can help them work on their emotional regulation while addressing any challenges they face in their social interactions. You can talk through the different scenarios your teen finds difficult to handle and provide viable solutions that help foster healthy friendships and relationships with others.
Helping your teen get over their bullying behavior can take some time but don’t give up. However, if you feel that your efforts are futile and their behavior isn’t changing seek professional help.
Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
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