Should I discipline a child who's bullying mine? (ages 6 to 8)

Should I discipline a child who's bullying mine? (ages 6 to 8)

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There are two basic rules to live by when it comes to other people's kids: Never tell another parent how she should raise her child, and never discipline a child who's not your own. Parents have their own way of addressing their child's behavior, and though you may wish wholeheartedly that the other parent would rein in her child more firmly, it's not your call.

Physical violence demands immediate attention, of course, so if a child is acting aggressively toward your grade-schooler in your presence, step in and tell the two of them to cool it. If the bullying happens at school, contact your child's teacher (and possibly the principal as well) to find out if she's aware of the problem and what she plans to do about it. At this age, though, bullying is most often a matter of feelings being hurt rather than blood being shed. Your goal, then, is to teach your child not to play the role of victim.

First, try to determine whether your child is being bullied often or only rarely. If it's a rare occurrence and it happens in front of you, simply focus on your grade-schooler and not his aggressor. A bully is seeking attention, so don't reinforce the behavior by giving him what he wants.

If the bullying is a constant problem, on the other hand, consider your child's environment. Is he fine at school but always having trouble at soccer practice? Perhaps something in the setting — the other kids, a particular coach — is contributing to the problem. In this case, meet with the head coach to discuss the issue and to figure out a plan of action. If the problem continues, you may decide that this particular team or setting isn't right for your child.

If your grade-schooler is a frequent target of aggression no matter where he is or whom he's with, then he needs to learn some coping skills. I'm not talking about teaching him to be nasty or sarcastic or to hit back; that would be counterproductive. Instead, teach him to look his aggressor in the eye and say, "I don't like that. Stop it right now and don't do it anymore." This is usually enough to turn a bully away. Also teach your youngster to remove himself and get involved in another activity. If he walks away from the bully and has a good time by himself or with a friend who's less aggressive, he'll no longer be a fun target.

Work on his social skills so that he won't be so vulnerable. Help him become a stronger player in his group, for instance. One way to do this is to take opportunities to invite his peers to your home. You could also volunteer to spend time with them — on school field trips or as a team manager, for example. The more active you can be in his group, the better. When you're with the kids, talk to them in a friendly way. Tell his aggressor, "What a cool T-shirt!" or "So, you're Joey — nice to meet you!" Not only will this model friendly behavior for your child, but also it will set him up in other kids' eyes as someone with a supportive and involved parent.

When your grade-schooler comes home and tells you someone picked on him, try to be casual about it. Don't focus too much on either the event or the tormentor. It's good to sympathize ("I bet that made you feel bad. Sam must have been having a rough day today to say that to you"), but don't harp on it, and quickly move on to other subjects ("What else happened at school today?"). Get your child to focus not on the perception that somebody's out to get him but on the fact that the bully has some problems of his own to deal with.

Watch the video: How To Deal With A Rude Disrespectful Child (May 2022).


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