Sad Girl

10 Ways to Support a Child who is Bullying

There are often complex reasons behind why a child is bullying. A child who is bullying usually has some unmet needs at home or at school. They may be confused about why they’re behaving the way they are.  Some children who bully may be aware of the harm their behaviour is causing but feel powerless to change it, while others may not have any awareness or consideration of how their behaviour affects others. It is nesecessary for a parent/guardian to spend time talking with the child in a calm, open and honest way to get to understand the reasons behind their bullying behaviour. They must be supported also to understand the effects of their actions and that bullying is never acceptable. As part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, here are 10 ways to support a child who is bullying.

  1. Punishment is not the answer to dealing with a child who is bullying. They need support and encouragement to understand what is happening for them and most often they need change to start within the family and for parents to be honest about how they are parenting.
  2. Ask yourself why your child needs to be a bully. What needs are being met by bullying behaviour? How can these needs to be met in a more positive way?
  3. Is your child a bully in the home or just in school or vice versa? Why might this be the case? Children need space to have their voice heard in the home and to have choices and some level of control over what is happening for them in their family. If a child has no voice in the home, they will often need to find a space where they do. This can lead to them needing to take control in situations where they can. We all have a need for control at some level.
  4. Explore how you are parenting your child. Are they involved in decisions in the home, what is your style of parenting? How assertive are you in having your needs met?
  5. Explore what type of communication takes place in the home and what type of boundaries are set. We all have needs and it is important to explore how people look for needs to be met within your family unit.
  6. Talk with your child if you feel they are bullying. Be open to it, they are doing it for a reason and usually have some unmet needs. Explore with them what is missing for them. How are they feeling about themselves in school and in the home? Help them to understand how bullying is harmful and the effects it can have on others. Be accepting of what they say even though you may not always like it.
  7. Role model for your child. Be respectful of them. Help them have their needs met in an appropriate way. Make requests of them instead of demands.
  8. Use positive attention to support their positive behaviours. There will be many. Try not to focus solely on areas of challenging behaviour. If they have challenges, how are they being created for them?
  9. Support your child to explore how they feel and how they can express anger, resentment, jealousy and other emotions without hurting others.
  10. Get extra support for your child if necessary. Communicate with the school. Play and art therapy can really support a child to find their voice and express what is happening for them in life. Children have stresses and pressures also. Don’t presume that because they are a child, life is great.

You might also wish to read 10 Ways to Support a Child who is Being Bullied.

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family; 10 Ways to Respect Difference; and 10 Ways to Build Assertiveness.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or


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