How to handle a bully.

Usually you hear about how to “bully-proof” your child, or what to do if your child has been bullied. But what if it’s your child who’s done the bullying? What do you do to handle that situation?

If it’s happened at school, there will most likely be procedures in place that both you and school will have to follow. Just hang in there and work through it.

Mom listening to feelingsIf you’re like most parents, at first you’ll want to stick up for your kid, reacting with something like, “You must have the wrong kid. My child wouldn’t bully someone. They must have been provoked. They certainly didn’t learn that from me.” We are all allowed a bit of denial – at first.

This can be embarrassing. You’ll quickly feel the necessity to administer some “corrective” punishment on top of what school is already doing to “correct” the behavior. Yet, still in the back of your mind you keep thinking, “There must be some mistake. I don’t understand, why would she feel the need to bully someone? What if it happens again? How can I keep it from happening again? What am I missing here?  Do I need to be more strict? Does the punishment need to be more severe?”

Discouragement opens the door to bullying.

Bullying happens in many different ways, both verbal and physical, and it’s easy to miss the underlying cause:  discouragement.  Figure out what your child is discouraged about, address that and their need to bully someone will end. This will require you to tune into, and ask more about, how he or she is feeling on a regular basis.

Rudolf Dreikurs explained, “A bully is always a child who, as a result of initial discouragement, has assumed that one is big only when he can show his power. He’s discouraged; not naughty or mean. We must distinguish between the doer and the deed. We must recognize misbehavior (bullying) as a mistaken approach brought about through discouragement.”

Explore why — dig deep — why your child is discouraged. Then follow our instructions on how to get them encouraged.

We all have the capacity to be a bully. It’s an inappropriate way to feel powerful when we’re feeling overpowered, or when we’re discouraged and not feeling good aboutDad yelling at son ourselves. Can you recall a time when you said a hurtful comment to someone, but disguised it as just teasing? It wasn’t teasing. You were being a bully. Or maybe a time when you overpowered someone physically, or with your voice? If you are physically or verbally overpowering your child on a regular basis, you are setting them up to be a bully.

You may also be setting the example of being a bully without even knowing it.  Take a moment and seriously ask yourself, “Where in my life do I feel overpowered? Where am I feeling discouraged? How do I then react, and what is my child observing?”

Bullying is a learned behavior that can be unlearned.

So what’s the best thing you can do to handle discouragement?

Learn how to better handle feelings while replacing threats and punishments with more effective and emotionally intelligent methods. We can help with that.

You can start by simply asking your kid, “How do you feel about that?” Then listen. It really doesn’t take much more than your willingness to listen, and then be vulnerable and share your feelings with him or her.

And should your child be bullied by someone and they’re feeling hurt and discouraged, you can really help by first asking how they feel about it, and then ask how they think the person who bullied them is feeling. Empathy is a powerful tool.

Remind yourself that your kid is not mean or bad, that he’s discouraged.  Each and every day deliberately look for ways in which to encourage, and be encouraging.

Anyone who’s feeling good about themselves will never – NEVER – bully another.

If you want to learn more about how to handle feelings, be more encouraging, and strengthen the relationship with your child, just subscribe to our newsletter –
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It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you’re so moved.

And keep asking yourself, “If I approached my parenting as seriously as I do my profession, what would I be doing to improve my skill, and get better results?”

Is THIS On Your Back-to-School List?

Remember to . . .
Ask my child how he or she feels about going back to school.

Father Son Listening-2

It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of “outfitting” your child with all the latest and greatest school supplies. New clothes, shoes, coats, jackets, boots, backpacks, gloves, hats, binders, pens and pencils, new glasses, and the most up-to-date devices.

Of course, all schools require certain items and supplies. But don’t overlook the most important thing you can do for your child as that first day of school approaches — take the time to connect and to ask the question . . .

How do you feel about going back to school this year?

Don’t make it a huge deal, like saying, “Hey, we really need to sit down and talk.” What your kid translates that to is, “Time for another lecture.” (Can’t wait.)

This is about giving your child the opportunity to share with you what it is they’re excited about, anxious about, confused about or scared about.

Mom listening to daughterNo matter how well you think you know your child (or anyone), the only way for you to know what’s going on inside their head is for them to tell you. And in order for that to happen you must listen — really listen — unconditionally and actively.

Remember – when you’re listening, you’re learning. When you’re talking, you’re not learning about them. Learning about them is the goal here.

It could go something like this . . .

“Well, it looks like we have just about everything you need for school this year. If there is something you find you need that we forgot, or didn’t know about, we can go get it later. Each year, when we do this, it always takes me back to when I got ready for school, and how it felt. I always had mixed feelings about the whole first-day-of-school thing. What about you? How do you feel about going back to school this year?”

Father Daughter Listening

Now this is where you go into your listening mode. Just be quiet. Most likely, there’ll be silence at first. Let the question hang there. Again, you have no idea what’s going through your kid’s mind, all the thoughts and feelings they’re attempting to sort out, especially if you’ve never asked this before.

If no reply is forthcoming, make it okay. Say something like, “It’s okay if you don’t have anything to tell me right now. Tell me later if you think of something you’d like to talk about.”  If it feels appropriate and timely, share something specific about how you felt going back to school. Keep it short and in a “matter of fact” kind of tone and stay with a feeling. Such as . . .

“I remember how I felt so excited to see my one friend who was gone for the whole summer.”  Or . . .
“I was always so anxious, scared even, about my new teacher, and if they’d like me.” Or . . .
“I’d get so uptight about being late for class, or forgetting where I was supposed to go to next.”  Or . . .
“I really was happy to have the time to talk with my friends.” Or . . .
“I started a new school, and was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends.”

End it with something like, “Those were definitely fun and crazy times for me.” and then just leave it there. The main thing is that you’ve opened the door for your child to share with you.  It may happen right then or at a later time. If later, just be ready to switch into listening mode.

Listening mode looks and sounds like . . .

Your child shares something with you they have strong feelings about.
You say, “I see. Tell me more.”
They tell you some more.
You say, while affirmatively nodding your head, “Hmmm, is there more?”
There’s more.
You say, “Wow, I can see why you feel that way.”
There’s still more which includes the desire for some type of solution.
You say, “So how will you handle it?” or “What will you do?” or “How can I help?”

Mother hugging teenage son as he packs for collegeIf there’s an issue or problem to address, don’t you be the one solving it. Guide your child in figuring it out and solving it on their own. Give assistance when asked, but not from a place where you feel they’re helpless. They are totally capable.

Initiating this dialogue will go a long way in helping your child feel confident. They’ll feel safe in talking, and expressing their feelings. And now, you’ve invited this type of sharing for the days and weeks to come. You’ve deliberately opened the door.

So grab that back-to-school “to do” list and make sure you have on it, “Take the time to connect with my child” – you can list it more than once.

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

And keep asking yourself, “If I approached my parenting as seriously as I do my profession, what would I be doing to improve my skill, and get better results?”

A Moment of True Connection

We are who we are because of our connections with those in our lives, however extended or brief. Our core desire is to experience relationships and figure out how we belong in all of it. In the back of our heads, since first arriving, we each continue to ask ourselves – “How do I fit in?”, “What img146_9_1is my purpose, my value?” It’s our never ending quest. That is why it is so important for you, as a parent, to have this understanding in order to better support your child on their quest of figuring out how they too “belong” in the world they’re experiencing.

One of the best ways you can support your child in their “belonging” quest is to take the time to fully connect with them, daily. In our parenting intensive classes we call it A Moment of True Connection. This is a time when you give your child 100% of your attention (see instructions below).

Seems simple enough, but my personal observation tells me different. It seems like everywhere I go I see parents with their faces buried in their devices while pushing the stroller, pushing their kid on the swing, or just standing there talking away while making it look like they are engaged. Know this, your kid knows different. They know you are not present. I watched one father, cell phone in hand – talking away, pulling his young son around the park on his bike for 15 to 20 minutes. Dad just kept on talking, never looking down to see if his kid was still there. And Junior? He had the look of, “what am I doing here?”  I know this is my judgement. I attempt to convince myself that not all parents unknowingly ignore their kids. I guess I just have to look harder.  I did just recently compliment a group of parents at our local playground – there was not a cellphone out among them – they were fully engaged with their kids as they swung back and forth on the swings giggling and laughing together.

A Moment of True Connection

Here’s the deal. Each and every time you’re with your child or she comes to you to tell you something, you have three choices:  ignore her, pretend to listen, or listen attentively.  When you listen attentively, you’re having a Moment of True Connection.  She gets 100% of your attention;  you’re not thinking about what to have for dinner, an issue at work, or the argument you just had with your spouse.  Moments of True Connection img147_10_1also work best when you’re at her level, looking directly into her eyes, touching her, and trying to feel what she’s feeling. These Moments are not times for lectures, advice or lessons.  They’re times for heart to heart, not head to head, communication. In other words you need to be listening and saying things like, “Wow, that is so great!” “I see. Tell me more.” “How do you feel about that?” “Hmmm. (while nodding your head).” “Can you teach me how to do that?”

It isn’t humanly possible for every conversation with your child to be a Moment of True Connection.  However, if you can arrange to have several of these moments each day, you’ll see a marked improvement in your relationship and you will witness your child feeling better about who they are and how they belong. Make it a priority to put whatever it is you are involved in aside for just that one moment. You’ll be so glad you did.

It’s all about the relationship.

As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.

Keep asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know?”, in your quest to becoming a more effective parent.