In media, the school bully is usually the giant brute who pushes kids into lockers or steals kid's lunch money. If the bully is a female, she is a popular girl who has an exclusive clique. She picks on students who are outside the clique. However, being a school bully is more multifaceted than that. Some school bullies may be the less-popular kids in school who retaliate because they got bullied by other students before. And many children with bullying tendencies are not aware that their behavior is negative or malicious. Therefore, it is especially important for parents to observe and check their children's behavior. Otherwise, it could continue way into their childhood and adolescence.
It is important to serve as a role model for your children. You must also make sure that your children are surrounded by positive role models. Some children develop negative tendencies from watching their parents argue in the home or from being bullied by older siblings. Some children develop negative characteristics from watching TV shows that are inappropriate for young children without knowing right from wrong. And some children become bullies from hanging out with children who have a negative influence on them. Here are traits to look for when seeing whether your child has characteristics of a bully:
Images: Fox / Bob's Burgers
It is very important for your child to learn from a young age to treat people the way that they would like to be treated. That's why when children begin preschool, they learn life lessons, such as how to share and to be nice to others. According to Strauss Esmay Associates, children who lack empathy are more likely to bully others. If you notice that your child is not being nice to their siblings or playmates at the park, it might be time to reinforce the golden rules to your child. Many classroom bullies did not learn how to be sensitive to other children's feelings, so they treat other children based on how they feel about them instead of based on how they would like to be treated by others.
Images: Columbia Pictures / The Angry Birds Movie
When children are very young, it is very difficult for them to express their emotions. If they do not get what they want, sometimes they hit, throw things, or throw a temper tantrum. According to Strauss Esmay Associates, your child expressing anger in a violent way is a sign of bullying. Therefore, it is important for you to correct their behavior immediately so that they learn that it is unacceptable. Bullies continue to unleash their anger in their school setting. Some school bullies push and hit other kids, throw chairs, and get into fights after school. If you hear that your child is expressing violent behavior during a parent-teacher conference, you can try family therapy and anger management techniques, such as yoga and deep breathing.
Images: Comedy Central / Corporate
Some school bullies have low-self esteem so they would take it out on classmates who they are jealous of or who they feel like are weaker than them. Other school bullies are the popular kids in school, so they target children who are more socially inept than them. Either way bullies target people who they feel like they are inferior to, according to Strauss Esmay Associates. Listen to the way that your child speaks about other people such as their classmates or celebrities. If they focus on superficial qualities, such as attractiveness or popularity, it could be a red flag. Teach your child that the inner qualities, such as personality, matters much more than the exterior.
Images: VH1 / RuPaul's Drag Race
It is great to know that your child is a natural negotiator. If your child is a negotiator, they could get very far in school and their career. But sometimes your child's natural charisma could be a sign that they are experienced in getting themselves into hot water. If they underplay their actions when they get into trouble at home (think: “it was just...” or “I was only doing this because...” ), it could be a red flag according to Strauss Esmay Associates. Teach them that there is no reason to justify poor actions while encouraging them to use their natural charisma for other outlets. School bullies continue to bully their classmates because they do not get reprimanded by teachers or other school staff members. Therefore, they believe that they can truly get away with anything.
Images: Comedy Central / South Park
It is very important for children to be open to many different cultures. In many schools, students learn foreign languages, including Spanish, French, and Chinese. They also learn historical lessons tailored to Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Women's History Month. Pay attention to the way that your child talks about new concepts and ideas. If they use language such as “silly” and “stupid” to describe different cultural practices, they might need a lesson on acceptance according to Strauss Esmay Associates. Teach your children that everyone is different and that their practices do not make them inferior to anyone else. School bullies often target other kids based on their religion, ethnicity, accent, race, and sexual orientation since they feel like these students are weird because they look or act differently from most of the other students.
Images: Cinemarque Entertainment / Heathers
When children blame others, they do not take full accountability for their actions. Therefore, it is more likely that they would bully other kids because they blame the victim, not themselves according to a study by Dartmouth University. Your child might be a victim-blamer if you hear them say that it is the victim's fault for being bullied because “they should stand up for themselves” or that “if they weren't so nerdy, they wouldn't get bullied”. If this is the case, it is important to show your children that the victim is never the blame for a situation that happens to them such as bullying. Teach them to be nice to people instead of expecting the victim to defend themselves.
Images: Ohmagif / DC Comics
A poor winner is someone who is boastful instead of humble after they win a competition. If your child is boastful when they win, they can develop a superiority-complex and bully children who did not win according to Dartmouth University. If you see your child acting overly cocky after winning a race in the playground, it might be time to stop to give them a talk. Remind them that it might hurt the other kids' feelings who didn't win if they gloat so much. Talking to them about it might allow them to put themselves in the other kid's shoes and be more humble about their victories.
Images: 20th Century Fox / Robin Hood: Men In Tights
On the opposite side of the spectrum are kids who do not take losing very well according to Dartmouth University. Usually, children who are sore losers are also poor winners. Kids who are sore losers can get angry easily and kick, stomp, and yell when they do not win. They can also downplay the kid's win by saying that “they cheated” or “I wasn't ready then”. If you notice that your child is not handling losing very well, pull them aside and tell them not to act out or say hurtful things to their peers. Remind them that they will be able to get fast and strong enough to win competitions as they get older.
Images: Starz / The Spanish Princess
Some children cover their ears and seem visibly disturbed when they see other people experiencing conflict. Other children are stimulated by conflict and laugh, engage in, or record fights that happen at school. According to a study by Dartmouth University, Children who are entertained by conflict are more likely to witness conflicts from their parents or their siblings regularly. If you and your partner fight often in front of your children, stop doing this because it has negative effects on your children. If your children fight with each other a lot, step in when their arguments are getting too heated or too frequent. It is important to normalize conflict resolution in a calm manner instead of heated arguments.
Images: Nickelodeon / Spongebob Squarepants
If your child is sneaky in their school setting, they can be getting away with lots of things that they shouldn't be getting away with. Sneakier bullies whisper insults to their victims instead of fighting according to Dartmouth University. Since their teachers have a class load of children to supervise so they can miss fine details such as sneaky bullying. If your child looks guilty when you enter the room or say “It's not what you think it is”, they might be sneaking around. Make sure to observe your child's behavior at all times and to hold them accountable for their actions.
If your child is manipulative, they can also be controlling since they want their peers to do what they want them to do. However, they take an extra step by tricking other children into getting what they want from them according to Dartmouth University. If you feel like your child can be manipulative, look for sneaky behavior and your child bragging about “getting what they want” from other children. If your child displays manipulative behaviors, teach them that they cannot use other children to get what they want out to life. Since these children are more likely to be sneaky and less likely to listen to authority, appropriate punishment can be a good solution for the child's manipulative ways.
Images: Starz / Power
Controlling children want everything to go the way that they planned according to Dartmouth University. If things do not go the way that they expect, they can get really angry at other children and act aggressively. Look out for if your child is being bossy or aggressive towards their siblings or their classmates. If you notice these things, remind your child that it is okay for other children to have different opinions and not want to do the same things like them all the time. Show them to treat other children the way that they want to be treated and that they cannot impose their beliefs on other children.
Some children are naturally destructive and they enjoy ripping and throwing things around the house. Other children are mainly destructive when they get angry. For example, a child who is destructive when they get angry would rip up a classmate's drawing if they get angry at them. The latter is more concerning according to Children and Schools because these children can pick on other children if they get into a conflict with them. It is a red flag if your child throws toys or rips up their sibling's belongings when they get angry. If you notice that your child is destructive when they get angry, teach your child that their actions are not okay. Explain that they cannot take back their actions after they cool down.
When children are under five, they have little impulse control and understanding that temper tantrums are wrong. However, when a child gets older, they should gain an understanding that they cannot act impulsively anymore and they must think before they act. If your school-age child continues to yell, scream, and throw things, it can be a problem according to Children and Schools. They can unleash their aggression on other children. If your child's teacher tells you that your child is taking out their anger on other children, it is important to teach them to control their anger. Counting to ten and deep breathing can help them to calm down and prevent them from acting on impulse.
Images: Starz / Outlander
There is the saying that you are who your friends are. As you know, that is not always the case. But when children are in elementary or middle school, they are especially impressionable. This means that if they hang out with children who are mischievous, they might fall into peer pressure to act the same way according to Children and Schools. If you notice that your child has friends who are getting into mischief when you pick him up from school or when they are over at your house, tell your child's friends immediately that their actions are not okay. Doing this would help your child and your child's friends know right from wrong. If these actions continue, you might have to get your friend's parents involved as well.
Images: MTV / Beavis and Butthead
Children can have a different understanding of behavior than adults since their minds are still developing. Some children can see harmless behavior as intentional according to Children and Schools. This is especially true for children raised in hostile or abusive environments. For example, if a peer accidentally steps on their shoe, they can feel like the peer is trying to hurt or disrespect them. This leads the child to act in an aggressive manner since they feel like they have to defend themselves. If you notice that your child is defensive, aggressive, and protective, talk to them about what makes them feel this way. If they are intimidated by classmate's non-aggressive behavior, explain to them that their classmate's actions were an accident, not intentional.
Children who do not respect authority are more likely to bully other students in school according to Very Well Family. Since they do not listen to teachers' rules, they feel like they can do anything they want regardless of consequence. Also, if they do not listen to an authority figure, they most likely would have even less respect for a peer. This lack of respect could stem from home. If a parent does not discipline their child or if they only discipline their child selectively, then they could feel like they do not have to take authority figures seriously. If your teacher tells you that your child is rude to them during their parent-teacher conference, it is time to set core values in your households such as respect and accountability.
Images: Okkult Motion Pictures / Popeye
If your child takes part in sports, you probably take pride in the fact that your child could be captain of the soccer or basketball team. They also most likely have excellent leadership abilities. But if your child has excessive physical strength, it does not mean that they will grow up to be a brute. However, the stereotypes of strong jock and lanky geek are present for a reason. If your child is physically strong, it is easier for them to unintentionally hurt other children that if they have less strength according to Very Well Family. If a child has a superiority-complex due to their physical strength, they can become aggressive to weaker kids as a result. Remind your child that every kid has their strengths, whether it is physical, intellectual, or artistic.