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What to do if your child is a bully

Bullying can have serious repercussions for all parties involved. Here are some tips on recognizing the potential problem and handling bullying behaviour in your child.


A bully can be any age, size, race or gender and maybe even someone you might not ever expect — like your own child! There are ways to help your child with their bullying behaviour, and it starts with being familiar with the warning signs.

Recognize possible risk factors

Recognizing the potential red flags of someone who may be prone to bullying behaviour can help you give your child the help they need before the behaviour escalates. These signs include the following:

  • Likes to control the people and situations around themselves.
  • Blames others for their own mistakes.
  • Has been a victim of bullying, either at home or elsewhere.
  • Demonstrates aggressive behaviour toward siblings and other children.
  • Has a lack of empathy and understanding for others.

Try to understand the bullying

When your child is a bully, it’s imperative to intervene and take steps necessary to help them control their actions, and this includes trying to understand what led to the bullying. Talking to your child will give you valuable insight as to what is causing the behaviour.

Address specific issues

Once you have a better understanding of why your child has been acting aggressively toward others, you can help stop the behaviour by working on the problems.

  • Be sure your child understands that their behaviour is bullying. Bullying is a strong word that’s prevalent in the media and in schools, but your child might not realize it can take on many forms and that their actions are considered bullying.
  • Teach your child to have empathy and compassion for others. A child who can understand the hurt feelings of another child is less likely to cause those feelings.
  • Lead by example. Be aware of your own actions when around your child, as they will follow your lead. When you treat people with respect and understanding, your child will learn to do the same.
  • Teach your child to be accountable for their actions. Make sure they know their actions have repercussions.
  • Encourage good behaviour with positive feedback. Children love to be praised for a job well done, so when your child demonstrates appropriate action, it’s important to reward them with positive comments.

Have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying

When your child is a bully, make it very clear that it is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated, regardless of the situation. Sit down with your child and discuss your expectations regarding their behaviour and what disciplinary action will occur if the bullying continues. It’s extremely important for the future of your child to get a handle on the problem of bullying, so if necessary, consider seeking guidance from a professional therapist to help put an end to this detrimental behaviour.

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