When your child is the bully

By Jasmine Atieno
Wednesday, July 14th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
When your child is the bully.

No parent would like to hear that their little ones are mean and violent towards others. But as long as there is a child being bullied, then there is another one who is responsible... 

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

When a child starts shying away from school or going out to play, or feigning sickness to stay home on school days, it’s normally an indication that something is not right.

Among the first guesses would be whether somebody is bullying your child? Now imagine being on the other side of the coin!

Well, as long as there is a child being bullied, there is a parent whose child is the bully. 

“It is not the best feeling for sure… being summoned to school that your child is a bully. But yes, I did find myself in that situation when my child was in Grade Two.

Apparently, this was something that had been going on for a while, he had been pinching a new boy at school and truly, the child had the marks to show for it.

He was also taking the boy’s crayons and sharpeners and I did not know he had these things in his bags because he would hide them.

So I did not know. When I was called to the head teacher’s office, of course the other parent demanded an apology, which I at first refused to offer because I felt like they were all ganging up against my child.

I thought all children fight each other and parents should not be beaten down for such issues.

But later when we got home, I talked to him and apparently, he was just going through a lot of things as well, which we had to work out calmly,” shared Lisa Achieng’ about her now eight-year-old son. 

The now single mum had been in an abusive relationship, which had left her too drained to understand the toll that the mess had taken on her son. He had not witnessed their numerous physical fights, but the arguments were unending. 

As for Sophia Rahman, whose daughter turned out to be a bully, she has resorted to changing schools, hoping that this would make things much easier for them both. 

“It started with her being bullied at school. Some other children used to call her fat. But she didn’t tell me about it.

Things just aggravated because she put up a defense mechanism to protect herself from anyone who would attack her.

Before I knew it, she was reported to be picking fights with other children. She is only six years and I don’t need her stressing about her looks at this age — she is only a child.

So yes, we got a psychologist to help her. And the decision to move her to a new school is basically to give her a fresh start on the onset of the new school calendar year end of this month. I’m sure things will be alright.

We did have to apologise to the other children because… I treasure peace even during exits,” she shares. 

A bully may not be a bad child

First things first, if you are ever informed that your child is the bully, take it seriously and don’t brush it off as just a little teasing. What may be natural or normal to you may be hurtful or harmful to someone else.

According to child psychologist Faith Mutegi, it’s important to keep in mind that bullying exists in many forms, that is, physical, verbal or psychological in nature and it can take the form of in-person interactions or virtually through the social media platforms, that is cyber-bullying. 

“Another aspect parents and guardians need to be aware of is that boys and girls are all capable of bullying either gender.

It’s not just one gender that bullies the other. A bully is not a bad child to the core.

They may be in severe distress in that they could be experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem or have difficulty in regulating their emotions and behaviour,” Faith explains.

Don’t judge

She shares that a child may be looking for attention or trying to gain a sense of control, therefore they act out in aggressive ways.

Some children would rather be known as the bad child or bully rather than not be noticed at all. “The child may want to fit into a certain group/clique of friends, which leads them to act out in hurtful ways.

It may start out as “harmless” fun such as the mchongoano game, but then they don’t really know they have gone too far or crossed the line with certain jokes,” she shares. 

It is her expert advice that these children need someone to listen to them without judgment and explore how they can learn positive social interactions while tackling the issues that might have caused the child to be a bully in the first place.

“Gradually, find ways for the child to make it right with whomever they wronged. Create open channels of communication with your children where you honestly listen to them in a supportive and non-judgmental manner,” advises Faith.  

Jasmine Atieno

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