Advice for parents

My child is bullying others

Moody girl on steps

Receiving a complaint about the behaviour of your child is difficult. Your instinct will be to defend them, and when the complaint is a complete surprise, you may deny that your child could ever act in this way. However tempting it is to disregard criticism, refusal to act will be detrimental to the healthy development of all children involved.

Try to avoid feeling like your parenting skills are being attacked, as there are many reasons why a child's anti-social behaviour can go unnoticed in the home.

Although it can be hard to accept, all parents must come to terms with the following: 

  • As children grow up, you stop knowing everything about them. They start to develop a private life, and keep their own secrets;
  • Children rarely behave exactly the same among family as they do at school or with friends;
  • Children can deliberately mislead. They are receptive to their parents' behaviour, and can intelligently use this to their advantage.

There will of course be cases when a child is unjustly accused, but an in-depth investigation with the school will always bring this to light.

Signs to look out for

Children who are most likely to bully may:

  • often feel the need to be in charge;
  • find it difficult to cooperate with adults or other children;
  • be insulting about other people's appearances and backgrounds;
  • use discriminatory words around racism, homophobia or sexism in a casual manner;
  • be amused by other people's distress;
  • not accept responsibly for their actions;
  • be a good manipulator;
  • have friends who are known to bully others;
  • have a tendency to be attention seekers.

Related advice

What is bullying?
Why is my child bullying?
Responding to a complaint

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