No parent wants their teens to be bullied at school. In the same manner, no one wants their child to be the bully. The latter is rarely talked about though. Everybody’s eyes are always on bullying victims, precisely because they’re the ones hurt and offended.
But what people (and most parents) don’t know is that bullies also have emotional issues that need sorting out. If you’re the parent of the school bully, you have the privilege and responsibility to get to the bottom of these emotional struggles and draw your child out of that pit.
Here are things to do when your teen has turned out to be the ‘mean girl’ or ‘bad boy’ of the campus:
1. Partner with the school
It’s crucial to work with school authorities so you can know more about what your child is going through. Teachers, principals, and guidance counselors will have different perspectives on your teen’s behavior, which would inform you better how to address emotional paint points.
But more than asking these people for advice, work with them. Involve them in observing your teen and in dealing with the emotional baggage. For instance, if your child is struggling with academic demands, ask the school authorities about tutoring programs.
If they’re feeling insecure about themselves, set up an appointment with a guidance counselor. The principle is to work with the community. In most Salt Lake City highschools, it’s common practice for teachers and parents to come together to talk about how to raise life-ready teens.
2. Sit down and discuss with them
Your teen may refuse to talk to you after a bullying incident, precisely because they know you’re going to give a long life sermon about how bad it is. So, try a different approach: let them talk. Tell them you’re not there to judge, that you’re simply trying to figure out why they did what they did.
Your goal is to create that safe space for them to disclose their struggles. Once you’re able to achieve that, stick to your promise of having them talk. What you then have to do is look for emotional pain points, such as insecurity, academic pressure, revenge, desire for popularity, and so on.
These are often the reasons teens bully. If they tell you that you’re the problem, say, a recent divorce or your supposed neglect, that’s when you speak up. Acknowledge your shortcomings, if valid, and ask for forgiveness, if necessary. Tell them what you’re planning to do to fix your problem at home.
3. Encourage therapy
In some instances, bullying is a result of a mental health issue. Remember, your teen is going through one of the most troublesome stages in life, experiencing changes in their bodies, identities, and relationships, so they’re more vulnerable to developing anxiety, depression, or eating disorders.
Your teen may be trying to relieve these ill conditions by being aggressive toward others. If such is the case, you would need medical intervention. Encourage them to see a therapist.
Yes, it’s not exactly the easiest thing to do, but try, still. Ask them to attend just one and let them see what they can get out of it. Hopefully, that one session will be enough to have them going again.