My child is bullying others
If you are concerned your child may have harmed another child or other children, don’t panic! Help is at hand.
In this video, former Kidscape CEO, Lauren Seager-Smith, shares her advice for if your child is bullying others.
1. First steps
Talk calmly with your child
Find a quiet moment in a private space and talk with your child about your concerns.
Explain what you have been told/what you have seen. Ask them to explain what has happened in their words and how they see the situation. Listen carefully to what they are saying.
Ask them what they were thinking or feeling. Explain that it is never okay to harm others.
- Is your child learning this behaviour from what they see in school or at home?
- Are they struggling with their own confidence or feelings of self-worth?
- Have they experienced harm themselves and this may be a reaction?
- Are they worried about a problem at home such as a pet dying, parents fighting or separating?
- Have they survived a traumatic experience?
- Is there anything going on in their life that you think might be hard for them to deal with?
2. Supporting your child
Helping them understand the impact
Help your child to understand what it means to harm others.
Discuss the situation from the other child’s perspective. Encourage your child to think about how it would have made them feel.
Encourage them to talk about their concerns and fears
Find out if there are other concerns and fears behind their behaviour.
Work through scenarios and what could they do differently. See if you can find the root cause of their behaviour and brainstorm ways of managing the underlying problems.
Look for ways of “putting things right” with the other child or children
Focus on solutions.
Understand that changing behaviour doesn't happen overnight. It takes dedication, patience and support.
If things don't improve, you may wish to seek further help. You can contact the Kidscape Parent Advice Line whether your child is experiencing bullying, or if they are bullying others. If you are concerned about your child's mental health and/or their behaviour, you could also speak to your GP.
3. Moving forward
Give positive feedback when they help and support other people
Look out for times when they do this and give positive feedback.
Check in daily
Show interest and concern; help your child understand their feelings and emotions
Make time to spend with your child each day
Read with your child or tell family stories. Create a warm and secure home environment.
Be careful about how you talk and behave towards others
Remember your children are always watching you. Try to be patient, respectful and kind in your interactions with others, even if times are hard. If you are struggling with your own feelings of anger or resentment, or home does not feel like a safe place then seek help. If you are experiencing violence in the home then the NHS website has details of organisations who can support.
If your child is active and a natural leader, get them to use their power in a positive way
For example, they could do this by supporting other children as a buddy or peer mentor. Talk to their teacher about useful ways to divert excess energy at school, for example helping the teacher by getting equipment ready, putting out chairs, supporting other children, etc.
Encourage your child to develop respectful relationships
You can find out more on this page.
Working with the school
A good school will investigate potential concerns about harmful behaviour so they have done the right thing in sharing this with you. It’s natural to be defensive about your own child, but stay calm, listen, and be clear you want to work with the school to resolve the situation.
Listen carefully to what is being said. Write everything down for reference.
Ask them to explain anything you don’t understand
Repeat back what you have heard to ensure you have understood the situation.
Let the school know that you take the matter seriously and will work with them to resolve the situation.
Be clear on next steps
Ask the school what next steps will be, and discuss ways in which you can work together. Ask for any help you need as a family. Request a copy of the anti-bullying policy and procedures to ensure you are best informed about the process.
Share any information that may be helpful with the school.
Arrange a time to check in
Arrange a time to check in on how things are going and whether you need to take any further action together.
Parent Advice Line
Guidance and support for parents and carers