My Child is the School Bully! What do I do?

It’s a horrifying realization to find out your child is a bully, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

I’ve worked with a lot of bullies and they’re usually in pain in some way.  Although, I went to elementary school with a little girl who was so sweetsie around adults but would threaten to kill any kid who beat her at a game, race, etc.   She had the nicest family and wasn’t in any pain, was just spoiled and used to getting her own way.

Let’s assume your child isn’t spoiled and go from there.  So, what do you do?

Step 1:  Acceptance.  Don’t go into denial and/or get defensive.  Just accept that your child needs a lesson in empathy.

Step 2:  The Confession.  Talk to your child about the bullying.  Don’t wriggle around the subject, ask if he/she has been mean to other children.  If they deny it then say you’re going to have to talk to the school, other parents, kids, etc.  They’ll usually fess up at this point.  They’ll also usually say they were just defending themselves which is sometimes true but not usually if they’ve been labelled the school bully.

Step 3:  Stop the Bullying.  Schools often talk about zero tolerance but that’s ridiculous as kids just get sneakier and bully behind staff’s back.  But at home you have so much more control.  Don’t bother getting them to apologize to their victims as this does little, it’s usually just empty words to kids.  Instead, attach consequences to their bullying.  Tell the school you want a report every single time your child is caught bullying.  Then you use screen time as a reward for every good day they have.

Step 4:  Forgive Them.  Do not remind your child about the bullying, just quietly deal with it by withholding screen time if necessary.  In that time, play games with them, talk to them, have fun with them, bond with them.  When kids are in trouble parents often punish them 24/7.  That is, they’re angry with them all the time.  That’s parent to child bullying.  Then the child gets worse and the parents can’t figure out why … “I’m punishing them like you told me to do!”  No, I said to hand out consequences then forgive and bond with them.  If you continually look at your child as a problem, that’s what they’ll become and they’ll stay that way.

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Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

 

Bullying is a Parenting Issue, not a School Issue

 

Schools have a lot of control over bullying that occurs at school but what about when it happens at the park, the mall or online?

Parents, on the other hand, have control over what goes on everywhere, even school.  Parents of bullies have to own up and be accountable.  They have to understand that their child has low self-esteem and has no sense of accountability for how he/she affects others.

I guarantee if there are consequences for bullying it would almost cease to exist.  

If being mean to others means no TV, video games, or cell phones could you imagine how quickly kids would learn to be nice?  

I worked with bullies right in the classroom.  I sat beside them mentoring them and was such a fixture in the schools that the kids forgot I was there so I saw what was really going on.   Bullying isn’t about hurting others, it’s about making themselves feel better.  All bullies have low self-esteem.

Whenever I’d ask a kid/teen why they were mean to someone, the reply would always be the same, “Huh?”  As if they didn’t even realize they’d done something mean.  It was all about them.  They had zero empathy, compassion or even acknowledgement of what they put the victim through.

Yes it’s important to raise the bully’s self-esteem but that will happen naturally once he learns to stop being mean.  The quickest way to do this is making him accountable by imposing consequences.

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Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

 

How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

I’m so glad my kids are grown up as I’d be setting a horrible example. I love wasting time on social media, especially YouTube. I end up falling down the rabbit hole of one video leading to another and next thing you know I’m watching pimples being popped and thinking, “How on earth did I get here?!”

So, how much time do your kids spend looking at screens every day? 10 minutes? 10 hours?

10 hours isn’t uncommon for teens. Some teenage boys will spend entire weekend playing video/computer games. I don’t mean just during the day, I’ve talked to some who have done binge gaming starting Friday night and gone right through to Sunday night. Needless to say, getting to school Monday morning is no easy exercise.

What do I mean by screen time? It’s TV, video games, computer, tablet and phone.

So, how much is too much? Of course there’s no set rule but here’s my basic outline:

Toddlers – 0-30 minutes
Preschoolers to 12 years – 60 minutes
13 to 18 – good luck with that one

I see little kids on tablets everywhere. I’m sure it’s an easy way to keep them still but do we really want to keep them still? Is it okay for a toddler to develop without moving anything but their fingers and eyes? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. But it doesn’t feel right does it?

So what do you do? How do you cut down on unnecessary screen time with your kids?

Set up some ground rules. Put this in a high traffic area on a chart and stick to it like glue. You have to be on it also to set a good example.

Being realistic, just do your best to be mindful of the fact that you may be relying a bit too much on screens to keep the kids busy while you drive, cook dinner, do laundry or even just get a second alone with your thoughts.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Parenting in Different Countries | My Australian Story

I’m from Vancouver, BC.  Met an Aussie on Halloween 1988 and by Valentine’s Day 1989 I was married, pregnant and living in Australia.  Partner lived in Australia so we’d only spent 3 weeks together in those first few months.  Pretty crazy and not something I’d ever recommend as now I know it takes 2 years to really get to know someone.  Anyhoo, was a successful marriage in that we had 2 beautiful children, lasted 15 years we have a very good relationship as far as exes go.  Spend birthdays, Xmas, etc. together with our kids.

He moved out New Years Day 2004 and we all moved back to Canada in March 2005.  Was not an easy move and not one I ever thought I’d do as Australia was home.  But, my wonderful mom was in her 80’s and had failing health.  She needed help, she needed me here. 

You can just imagine how the conversation went with my ex when I told him I wanted to move back to Canada with the kids, and I wanted him to come with us.  He’s Australian, loves Australia, as I do.  Anyway, he very graciously agreed to the move as visited my Mom and saw the condition she was in.

We had 5 wonderful years with her and 6 1/2 more challenging years as she suffered dementia and several health problems.  She died in my arms in June, 2016.

Kids were 10 and 15 when we immigrated to Vancouver so spent all their formative years here.  So, doubt we’ll ever end up living in Australia again.  But never say never :).

When I first moved back to Canada I knew I was going to start a parenting business but I had a slight disadvantage:  I’d raised my kids in Australia.  It was profoundly different from parenting in Canada, more so than I would’ve thought.  

A friend sent me this great article on Motherhood Around the World, here’s the Australian section.

Loved the article on the mom from Vancouver living in Australia, related to a lot of what she said.  The big difference between us was that she associated with expats.  I avoided that which I think helped me to assimilate quickly.

Funny Sideline:  When I first moved to Australia, the slang was the biggest challenge, didn’t know what they were saying half the time.  I worked in an office in Sydney before my son was born.  My boss asked me to get him a rubber and I just stood there stunned.  A co-worker came over and explained to me that in Australia a rubber is an eraser.  I said, “Thank gawd as I was just about to review my job description.”  Another time I was teaching an aerobics class and suggested they all root for one another as it was going to be a challenging class.  Their eyes widened and everyone just stared at me kinda frozen.  Someone walked over to the stage and whispered, “I’m assuming you don’t know that in Australia to root means to screw.”  My mic picked it up so the whole room heard.  I said, “Okay then, how about we just encourage one another”.  Aussies have a great sense of humour so those awkward moments were great.

The challenge with coaching parents in Canada was helping clients through their insecurities.  They all felt they were being judged.  I was confused by this as had never experienced anything like it in Australia.  Moms in Australia are non-competitive and very supportive of one another.  In playgroups and playgrounds we used to sit around and talk about what lousy moms we were, how horrible our kids were, etc.  Aussie humour is self-deprecating so that transferred right into parenting.  Also had a lot of Kiwi (New Zealand) friends who were the same.

A huge part of what I deal with with my Canadian and American clients is helping them deal with other people’s judgment, feeling almost bullied by other moms.  I rarely see that in clients from other parts of the world.

If you aren’t surrounded by supportive moms, go out and find them, they’re there.  Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s often just about survival.  There are lots of down-to-earth moms out there to hang out with, you may have to be the one to start the ball rolling, but go for it, what have you got to lose?

I’m planning on starting a little support group for new moms in my area (Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, BC).  I’m just looking for a private space, just for 4-5 of us plus strollers and little ones.  We’ll be sitting around talking about what mothering is really like:  the ups, downs and funny things that happen.  I’ll also be answering any questions but it’s going to be very casual.  The best part is that it’s FREE.  

If you know of moms who would be interested in this group, please let me know.  I’ll be talking about it more once I get the space set up and decide how I want to format it.  Your suggestions are welcome.  I don’t really want to call it a support group, more of just a friendly chat among new moms.

Feel free to email me at:  Lisa@BratBusters.com

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach