How parents, caregivers and guardians can address bullying

Bullying is difficult when your child is the victim, but how do you handle the situation when your child is the bully? St. Petersburg child therapist Juli Hindsley acknowledges that it seems easier to deny the information, for their benefit and your own, but this will only extend the potential damage.

“No one wants to know their child is causing someone else harm or pain,” Hindsley says. “If you find your child has been bullying someone, wait a day or two until you can approach the situation calmly with your child.”

Hindsley suggests taking a curious approach, rather than being accusatory. Let your child know you received some challenging, difficult information, and ask if they happen to know what it might be or if they just want to hear what you heard. Be open to what your child has to say, and work together to corroborate information.

The St. Petersburg child therapist adds, “Children who bully are not bad kids. There’s a variety of reasons why a child would bully someone, including low self-esteem, a large life transition like divorce, or having been bullied themselves. It’s common to have a lot of emotions when dealing with this, so it’s important to find someone who can help you navigate your feelings, so they don’t affect your child.”

Hindsley suggests working with your child to write a letter to the other child. She also recommends working with your child to address the root of their behavior. Some schools may even require a child to bully to attend therapy sessions, so they can assure other families that they are taking the situation seriously and that other kids will not be impacted. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), consistent daily positive interactions between parent and child, and daily positive affirmations are all options for working with your child.

For additional resources and St. Petersburg children’s counseling services, visit Child & Family Therapy Center’s contact page.

When your child is a bully