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?”

Test Yourself for Racial Discrimination

Are you sending a racially biased message to your child?

As we’ve watched and listened to the disturbing media reports regarding the event that took place in Charleston, SC, recently, we’ve been asking ourselves, in what way were we responsible — as individuals, as parents, as a society?

First, we want to say that our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this heartbreaking, numbing act of senseless violence and misguided reasoning.

We hear parents asking, Why does this continue to happen?
We hear parents asking, What needs to change to keep this from ever happening again?
We hear parents asking, How can I make any difference for my child?

Change begins by taking responsibility for one’s own actions and beliefs. There must be the willingness to look within and ask the question, “Do my actions encourage or discourage racial discrimination?”

The Future - it's a global condition.

The Future – it’s a global condition.

As a parent, the question is, What example am I setting for my child?

Consider the following as a self test:

Pretend that you (“you” being a white person in this example) came home from the grocery store, and related the following story to your family. . . “I had the most wonderful conversation in the produce department about asparagus with a friendly and extremely knowledgeable black lady.”

By pointing out the lady’s color, are you racially discriminating?

We believe the answer is . . . yes!

What if, in your story, both you and the woman in the produce department had been white. Would you have referenced her color by stating that she was “a friendly and extremely knowledgeable white lady?” Probably not.

So why add the label “black”?  Describing her color, implying that she was an African American, wasn’t relevant to the story. Plus it sows the seeds for the need to not only notice, but to point out the differences in people. In this example the difference being skin color.

This innocent, yet blatantly discriminatory, word description takes place daily — probably even subconsciously — by people who see themselves as being racially unbiased.  Has it been instilled that people of color are less intelligent, thus your surprise — and need to point out — that the “extremely knowledgeable” woman was black? If we, as parents, as a society, want racial prejudice to come to an end, then labeling someone by their color of skin, when skin color isn’t relevant, must stop.

Think of it as setting an intentional example for our children, the next generation. Children look up to, and emulate, the adults around them, which comes from a strong desire to fit in, belong, and be a valued member of the community. At first, they just mimic actions and words waiting for a positive response. Eventually, the imitating turns into a habit and then a belief. Each generation will repeat the same pattern of beliefs, by default, unless that cycle is interrupted. Awareness is needed first, followed by new examples of appropriate behavior.

In order to initiate change, parents need to sharpen their attention to the words they choose, and what they mean (or what they’re not meaning) in the communication with their child. There are certain words we urge parents to completely remove from their vocabulary. If you don’t want your child to be afraid of the world (and help him or her feel more confident), then replace “Be careful!” with “Take care of yourself” when sending them out the door. In our produce department example above, we would remove any reference to a person’s skin color.

If you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, then at the very least, for the next 31 days, be deliberate about not describing someone by the color of their skin. Intentionally begin paying more attention to the words you use.

It’s all about the relationship.

Please take the time to give us your comments and feedback.
Share how you are helping to put a stop to racial discrimination.
And of course, please share this with a relative or friend.

It’s not too late to change it up!

I’m sure you’re a great parent. And you absolutely love your kid.

But have you noticed — especially as he gets older — that even with your awesomeness, and the incredible amount of love you have for him, that it can be super-challenging to maintain a close and respectful relationship when a conflict emerges between you?

Every attempt to control the situation — and your kid — ends in total frustration.

Y’know, very few of us have had any real training in relationship skills, especially for parenting.

When he was little, it seemed like parenting effectively was second-nature. Or at the very least, it was easier then than it is now.

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