WHAT IF YOUR CHILD SHOWS BULLYING BEHAVIOR?

Article by PACER National Bullying Prevention Center

If your child shows bullying behavior…

1. Talk with your child.

Many parents are surprised to learn that their child is showing bullying behavior. Often, they have no idea that their child is exhibiting these behaviors. If you find out your child is bullying, it’s important to know that bullying is a behavior and that behavior can be changed. Students bully for many reasons, including peer pressure or being bullied themselves. Your child may not realize how much they are harming someone, what impact their actions are having on another child, or they may not label their behavior as bullying.

The first step is to talk with your child about why they are bullying. This conversation should allow your child to explore how they may be feeling, to speak up if they are being bullied by someone else, and to talk about other factors that may be leading to this behavior.

What If Your Child IS the Bully? Could your child be bullying others? Would you know? Once you found out, would you know what to do? Here is some information that can help.

2. Try to understand your child’s feelings and show that you hear what they are telling you.

Help your child understand how others feel when they are bullied and let them know that everyone’s feelings matter. Role playing can be helpful to teach your child different ways of handling situations, along with helping them understand how their behavior is impacting someone else.

What Do You Do if Your Child Bullies? Seeing your child as the victim of bullying behavior can be heartbreaking. But so can witnessing your child bullying another. So what do you do?

What are strategies to redirect bullying behavior. With adult guidance, redirecting bullying behavior toward an understanding of differences, as well as the practices of kindness and inclusion, are good strategies for reshaping a child’s behavior.

3. Be realistic. It takes time to change behavior.

Be patient with your child as they learn new ways of handling feelings and conflict. Provide praise and recognition when your child handles conflict well or finds a positive way to deal with their feelings. This type of positive reinforcement goes a long way!

More resources


Parents of Elementary School Students
Visit PACER’s Kids Against Bullying website with your child and check out the following page:


Parents of Middle and High School Students
If your teen is demonstrating bullying behavior, encourage them to visit PACER’s Teens Against Bullying website and check out the following pages:

  • Initiating Bullying? This page features reasons why teens may think bullying is okay and the reality behind these thoughts.

  • Do You Bully? Quiz This quiz can help teens recognize that their words and actions might be bullying behavior.

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