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Is Your Kid a Bully?
By:  K.Brown

The principal calls to tell you about a problem with your child's behavior. If you're like most parents, your first thoughts are defensive in nature. You don't want to think that your kid is the class bully. That's natural. It's best not to jump to conclusions anyway. The first step is to have an honest discussion with your child.

Once you hear the story from the principal or teacher, you'll want to hear your child's side of the story. It's always possible that he was pushed into a bad situation. Teasing, name-calling or a prank may have caused him to react in anger.

School districts have different rules concerning fights in school. In some districts, a fight between two children results in both being suspended for a few days. The time apart can help to defuse the situation. By the time they get back together, the kids may have forgotten what the fight was about.

This could be a one-time thing and nothing to worry about, but it is still a good idea to look at your child's behavior carefully. Is he angry or aggressive at home? Does he get frustrated easily? Does he throw things, slam doors or yell?

Children need to learn how to deal with their emotions in a positive way. It does not come naturally. Often they need an outlet, a sport for example. Not only does the physical activity help them blow off some steam; it has a positive effect on brain chemicals that play a role in mood regulation.

Problems at home can cause children to act up at school. A divorce or death in the family has a tremendous impact on the children in the home. Family counseling can help the kids and the parents.

The wrong thing to do is ignore the incident. Whether this is the first time or not, addressing the issue now can help reduce the risk that your child will be a bully in later life.

No matter the circumstances, the child needs to take responsibility for his actions. Apologies need to be made and the child needs to understand why an apology is necessary.

Movies, video games and our society in general are somewhat violent. Children need to learn the difference between what seems to be acceptable behavior in the entertainment world and what is actually acceptable in society, especially the society of the classroom.

Any punishment should be in the form of a learning experience. Find some age appropriate volunteer work for the child to do. Don't make it seem like a punishment. Try to help your child see that helping someone makes you feel good about yourself. Hurting someone does not really make you feel better.

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