Mission Moment from Michael Huntley, YSB Executive Director

Kids bully for many reasons. Some bully because they feel insecure. Some bully because they simply don’t know that it’s not OK to pick on kids who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion.  Some bully as a part of a pattern of defiant or aggressive behavior. Some kids who bully are copying behavior that they see at home. Kids who see aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way.

Helping Kids Stop Bullying  Let your child know that bullying is not OK and can bring serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.

Try to understand the reasons behind your child’s behavior. In some cases, kids bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, frustration, or insecurity. In other cases, kids haven’t learned cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences.

Be sure to:

  • Take bullying seriously.
  • Teach kids to treat others with respect and kindness.
  • Learn about your child’s social life.
  • Encourage good behavior.

Starting at Home  It’s natural — and common — for kids to fight with their siblings at home. And unless there’s a risk of physical violence, it’s wise not to get involved. But keep an eye on the name-calling and fighting, and talk to each child regularly about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Keep your own behavior in check too. Think about how you talk around your kids and how you handle conflict and problems. Kids who live with yelling, name-calling, putdowns, harsh criticism, or physical anger from a sibling or parent/caregiver may act that out in other settings.

If you behave aggressively — toward or in front of your kids — chances are they’ll follow your example. Instead, point out positives in others, not negatives. When conflicts arise in your own life, be open about your frustration and how you cope with your feelings.

There will be situations that need discipline and helpful criticism. But don’t let that slip into name-calling and accusations. If you don’t like your child’s behavior, stress that it’s the behavior that you’d like your child to change, and you have confidence that they can do it.

Who Else Can Help?  If a stressful life event at home may affect your child’s behavior, get help from resources at school and in your community. Guidance counselors, pastors, therapists, and your doctor can help. If your child has a history of arguing, defiance, and trouble controlling anger, consider the possibility of getting an evaluation with a therapist or behavioral health professional. Visit Fast Tracker MN connecting providers and those seeking care.