As parents, we’re often so preoccupied with wanting to know if our child is being bullied in school — but what if your child is on the flip side and is the bully instead? Of course, the following aren’t hard and fast rules, but it’s important to always keep vigilant and observe if your child displays such indicators:
1. They make fun of others
While it’s easy to laugh and brush it off as “kids being kids”, sometimes, it can lead to deeper issues. Ask yourself: “Does my child single out differences in another child and use that to tear them down?”, “Do they encourage others to partake in their ‘teasing’?”, “Do they often come up with unkind names for other children?”. As bullies often like to make others feel inferior in order to build themselves up, you need to monitor if your child does all these things consistently.
2. They get into trouble often
If you’re constantly being called up by your child’s school to be told of the trouble they’ve caused, it could be a red flag. Bruce Cameron, a licensed counselor and former federal prison therapist, cautions that a child may be a bully if “there is failure to submit to authority and a failure to have several meaningful peer relationships.” Mayra Mendez, a licensed psychotherapist adds, “the child has difficulty when they don’t get what they want, when they are not first, or identified as the winner or the best. Behavioural challenges may also include impulsiveness and thoughtless reactivity to perceived slights.”
3. They lack empathy
Does your child enjoy seeing others suffer and are seemingly unable to relate to others who feel pain? Dr Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist says, “If your child grabs toys away from other kids and doesn’t care whether it makes them cry, this is typical bully behaviour. Though your child may sometimes do this because they want to play with the toy, often it is just to show the other child who’s boss.”
4. They are obsessed with popularity
While most children often dream of being popular, it can become a problem when it seems to be the only thing they think about, up to a point of excluding other children whom they think will affect their goal or are different (in any way) from them.
5. They come home frequently with new things
If you’ve noticed your child sporting material possessions you don’t remember getting for them, or find items that clearly aren’t theirs in their room or lying around — there is a possibility that they could be bullying other children into giving up their items or cash (for your child to buy new things).