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.

To help you get organized with consequences, sign up for my FREE accountability system (3 Step Parenting Plan).

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

 

How to Bully Proof Kids using Role Play

The best defence against bullies is confidence and high self-esteem.  That’s what I did with my own kids but when I was mentoring other people’s kids I didn’t have the time to build them up.  I had to figure out another way to arm them against bullies.  So we used role playing.    

Why is role playing so effective?  Because kids learn best by doing.

Here’s what you do:  You set up a bullying scenario, write it out like a script with your child.  Then you take turns being the bully and victim.  Keep the bullying non-personal as even when acting things out meanness hurts.

Make it fun.  When I’d play the bully I’d say things like, “Do you use that thumb growing out of your forehead to push elevator buttons?”  Kinda embarrassing writing such ridiculous stuff here, but kids gobble that stuff up.

The victim role is one of calm indifference.  Not ignoring as that’s antagonistic.  Use indifference, then diversion.

Role play could go something like this:

Bully:  Does your whole family have green hair or is it just you?
Victim:  Yup, all green tops.  What are you doing this weekend?

Humour can work also but it has to come naturally to the child.  My son used humour but my daughter used indifference and diversion.

I had my first bullying incident when I was in Grade 2.  A much older student came up to my face and made fun of my last name.  I laughed right along and came up with an even funnier play-on-words with my name.  The bully was completely defeated and walked away.  Bullies are quick to move on when they don’t get the desired reactions:  fear, crying, etc.  

Were you ever approached by a bully?  How did you handle it?

For more information and FREE disciplining system, sign up for my Newsletter.

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.

Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter for your free disciplining system which is all about accountability.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

 

Happiness is a Choice, not a Circumstance

Happiness is dependent on 1 thing:  CHOICE.  The only time it’s circumstance is when your health, loved ones or necessities are taken away.

My mom was an amazing woman.  She grew up during the Depression with 2 younger sisters, a mother with mental health issues and her father died when she was just 4 years old.  They had an unheated roof over their heads but not much more.  They often went hungry and the school would feed them cream to fatten them up.  They were in Winnipeg where it got 30+ degrees below 0 yet they were not allowed to complain about being cold, hungry or anything.  Their mom instilled in them a sense of gratefulness for what they had.

Mom had so many funny stories about growing up but one of my favourites is when they’d visit her grandmother who hated kids and would send them out in the garden to search for peas under 5 feet of snow.

What made Mom so special is that through all her hardships, and there were many, she was always cheery and positive.  Her charisma drew people to her.  She wasn’t just positive, she was also very funny, social and just plain nice.  Never said a mean word about anyone, that was too negative for her.

I was 14 when my Dad died.  I can remember it like it was yesterday as we were at home expecting Dad would die soon.  He’d been in hospital for 3 weeks in the final stages of cancer.  Mom and I got the call at noon and we cried in each others arms for a few minutes then she pulled herself together and said, “Weren’t we lucky to have him for all those years?”  I was like, “What???  Dad just died and you’re already searching for the positives in all this?!  There aren’t any!!!”  

But, that was just Mom.  She couldn’t help it.  Her glass was always half full.

They say we’re born with a certain nature.  It could be cheerful, serious, quiet, loud.  Mom was very serious and quiet growing up but she turned into a very loud, cheerful adult.  She always said it was a choice.  She CHOSE to be happy. 

I mostly got that throughout life but it wasn’t until she died in my arms that I really got it.  It almost felt like she’d passed the torch.

Happiness really IS a choice.  

I was at a party the other night and some people were talking about politics or something and it was all negative.  I wasn’t joining in the conversation and someone commented on it as I’m usually such a motormouth.  I said I just don’t function well around negativity.  A friend thought that was funny as I deal with so many crisis situations in my business.  I said that’s completely different as it’s all solution based, not just dwelling on the negative.

That’s why I don’t let clients talk about their problems for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  What’s the point???  I get it, I know there’s a problem, now let’s work on the solution.  Let’s focus on being happy.  

Happy Families are my goal with BratBusters.  I want you all to be happy with yourselves, happy with your kids, your kids to be happy with you.  I want everything to be positive.  I see problems as opportunities to learn and grow.  

Disclaimer re. youths in crisis:  I do not recommend my methods to others as they are not based on formal training, just experience and intuition.  Every situation is different but here is an example of how focusing on the positive can be a real asset: 

I was talking to a youth in a psyche ward after a suicide attempt.  I’d been working with his family but hadn’t met him previously.  I introduced myself but he just turned his head to the wall.  I sat there quietly flipping through some ancient magazines and talking to myself about how lame they were.  After an hour or 2 he turned and looked at me.  It worked, I’d gained his trust.  When I left awhile later the nurse asked what was so funny as heard us laughing.  I said, “He was telling me how he’d tried to kill himself and we were laughing at what a failure he was at it.”  A couple of years later he was still doing okay so … fingers crossed.

I won’t bore you with all the psychological mumbo jumbo but the jest of why that worked was that I’d normalized his suicide attempt.  He didn’t need to feel ashamed, he wasn’t crazy, he’d just screwed up and it almost cost him his life.  Really tough to do it again when you’ve been giggling with someone about how ridiculous it was.

Mom taught me that, she could ALWAYS find the humour in a situation.  She knew how to put people at ease, to make them feel good about themselves. 

Mom chose to be happy and knew how to spread the happiness.  What a gift.  What a woman.  

Do you choose to be happy?  Do you teach this to your children?  I’d love to hear from you.

Warmly, Lisa.

 

More Happy Reading.

How to Talk to Kids so They’ll Listen – Volume 22,317

Did you know if you master how you talk to kids you can get them to do pretty much anything you want?  Not only that but they’ll have pride in thinking that it’s what they wanted to do all along.

It’s not about obedience, but about guiding kids to make the right decisions and do the right things.  This leads to pride, high self-esteem, etc., etc.

So, how do you guide kids to choose to do the right thing?  It’s easy, you just learn how to communicate with them on their level, not yours. 

Far too much parenting advice tells parents to speak to children as if they’re tiny adults.  That drives me nuts as it’s so disrespectful.  That would be like expecting an adult to communicate on a child’s level.  Okay, maybe some do, but you get the point.

Speak to children as if they’re children.  Don’t talk down to them, just speak in their language. 

Here’s a great example of getting a defiant 9 year old to do a task he didn’t want to do:

I was running a workshop awhile back and a 9 year old boy was being very cheeky to his father who kept trying to get him to settle down and do a task.  Dad was using phrases like:

If you don’t sit still and listen there’s no TV tonight.

I told you on the way here that if you’re not good today then you’ll be in trouble when we get home.

I intervened and told the boy that he didn’t have to do the task, he could go sit in a chair by the wall, no problem.  He ran right over to the chair.  His father was upset but I whispered, “Just smile and let me lead.”  We did the boy’s task while talking and laughing and eventually the boy came over and tried to join in. 

His father was ecstatic and started to pull up a chair so he could join in.  I said to the boy, “You chose not to do the task and I completely respected that.  You’re welcome to do the next task but you’ll have to go sit back in the chair for now.  Thanks.”  Then I just continued talking to the dad as if the boy wasn’t even there.  When the boy tried talking to me I just smiled at him and pointed to the chair.  I didn’t have time to talk, I was busy doing “his” task.

The boy was kinda confused as had never been spoken to like that but because it was all so clear and definite with no room for negotiation, he went right back to the chair.  Sure enough, he ran right over for the next task.  He even waited for me to gesture for him to come back and join us.  All happy smiles, nothing negative about the interaction. 

Not only did he feel respected, but he felt appreciated and proud when he completed the next task.

If I hadn’t intervened he wouldn’t have done any tasks and at the end of the workshop the dad would’ve been frustrated, angry and embarrassed.  They both left feeling very proud of themselves.

It took a lot of coaching after that experience to kick dad of his old habits as he really struggled to let go as in his home country children are taught to obey.  It’s not like that here in Canada so the outside influences were really messing that that cultural beliefs.  The dad was trying to demand respect but learned how to command it instead which I think is way better anyway, don’t you?

The above interaction was specific to that situation but this same belief system of talking to kids in their language, very concise and direct, works with homework, bedtime and even chores.  Of course the method is changed as who’s going to look all happy to take out the garbage while the kid just sits in a chair, lol.

Anything you’re struggling to get your kids to do?  Let me know and I may use it in Volume 22,318 :).

Warmly, Lisa