When Mean Behavior Becomes Bullying

Learn what to do when your child struggles with bullying.

Bullying is a specific type of aggressive behavior that includes repeated hitting, kicking, and calling of mean names, as well as excluding. If your child is involved in bullying, work with school officials and counselors to stop the behavior. Provide them with the date, time, place, children involved, and specifics of the incidents and their effects.

If your child is bullying another child, try these tips:

  • Intervene immediately. Help your child figure out how to change his behavior and to do something kind for the other child, such as make an apology card.
  • Help your child to engage in caring behavior, such as choosing some of his toys to donate.
  • Bullying behavior may be a sign that your child is struggling with big feelings. Help your child to explore his feelings.
  • Reach out to your child’s school counselor or teacher for help, as well.

If your child finds himself witnessing or experiencing unkind behavior, try
these tips:

  • Encourage him to tell you how he is feeling. Ask, “How did you feel when…?”
  • If your child is being bullied, assure him that being bullied is not his fault.
  • Let your child know that it is always OK to tell an adult and ask for help.
  • If your child is being bullied, have him practice saying, “I don’t like the way they are acting. I am going to play with someone else.”