You’ve probably suspected it for quite some time now. It’s a difficult fact to face and it can even be a scary situation to handle, but the instant you recognize your teenager is bullying people, it is absolutely necessary to intervene. Unfortunately teenage bullying has taken on an entirely new dimension over the last couple of decades. No longer are the beating up kids for their lunch money, but a true bully is capable of hurting anyone, including their siblings and parents, to express themselves.
Start at the beginning. If our child was being bullied we would explain things like bullies are really very insecure people and they don’t feel very good about themselves. Starting at your child’s self esteem is critical. Before you go any farther tell them they are loved and take some time to point out all the qualities that make them unique and loveable. Step two, provide them with professional help.
Bullying is more than an annoyance or a disciplinary problem. Bullies are potential abusers. In light of recent events, bullies are also occasionally retaliated against, with life ending violence. None of this is acceptable and the situation desperately needs to be addressed.
Let’s not kid ourselves and shortchange our daughters. Bullies are not just boys. Girls are just as likely to be bullies, however their bullying methods may not be as clear cut and obvious as a boy’s method. Girls tend to bully through manipulation and intimidation. They are equally as likely to grow into abusive parents and strong arm their way through life if they do not receive the necessary attention they need in their teens.
Regardless of their bullying tactics, try dealing with the issue or issues that brought their bullying to their attention. Discipline is of course necessary, but it is also vital to remain concentrated at the core issue, which is the self esteem of a bully. Bullies are often trying to express and anger that has gone unresolved. The loss of a parent, a violent incident, a family that is too busy to notice the small achievements, even something as simple as unrealistic goals and unattainable ideals to achieve a parent’s approval can contribute to bullying behaviors. Take a serious look at the role models in your teenager’s life. Are one or more parents employing bullying methods to deal with a rebellious teenager or a spouse that is having difficulty communicating? Are these methods being taught through an extra curricular activity? Sometimes coaches are guilty of bullying regardless of the sport.
“I just got mad.” There is an anger management issue among teenagers today that excuses anger related behavior. It is becoming an epidemic among teens to attribute anger related behaviors as excusable. Teens believe that a behavior doesn’t count if it is an expression of anger. While we want to encourage our children to express themselves, we still want to get across the notion of responsible expression. An act of aggression exercised as an expression of anger is a dangerous sign. These are warning signs of future abusive behavior.
If the bullying has entered the home and has escalated into parental violence it is beyond time to get help for every member of the family. As much as we never want to see our children in legal trouble, in an emergency there really is no other responsible option than to get help, even when the consequences are not the direction we want our children’s lives to head. If your child is beating you, call for help. You are doing them a favor even if they can’t see it and you are keeping the rest of your family safe.
Intervention is vital. Accept some help from outside sources and set basic rules of conduct with basic consequences for violations. Spend time every single day finding ways to help your child feel better about him or her self in the process. The most important aspect of this entire journey is to realize there is hope and that your child has the potential to feel better about their role in the world and to treat others with the respect they deserve. It can be scary to have a bully in your household and you can waste plenty of time deciding all the little things you may or may not have done wrong along the way. The important thing is that there is help out there and that the problem is no longer swept under the rug.