Advice for parents

Encouraging positive behaviour

Children who bully others can always change their behaviour, but they will need help and support. Work through the following guidelines and keep a record of progress.

Talk calmly with your child. Encourage them to talk about their insecurities, concerns and fears. Try to establish if there is a clear reason behind their behaviour, and ensure they know you are there to help. 

Role play. Many children who bully lack empathy. Help them to understand how their actions may affect others through discussing bullying scenarios. 

Provide clear guidelines and consequences. Set specific and substantial consequences for bad behaviour such as the loss or suspension of a valued privilege.  Ensure you are consistent and follow through with your promise.

Zero tolerance. Make it clear that their behaviour is unacceptable and take immediate action if they are involved in further bullying incidents. Choose appropriate discipline and stay in touch with the school. 

Offer alternative solutions. Help your child to find alternative ways to deal with emotions such as anger, insecurity or irritation.

Build self-esteem. Try lots of new activities to find things they enjoy and are good at.

Give positive feedback. Positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment. When they handle conflict well, show compassion for others or deal with their emotions in a positive way, give specific praise.

Lead by example. Promote a non-aggressive and cooperative environment at home. Be aware of how you talk to your children or deal with your own strong emotions or conflicts in front of them, as children may act this out in other settings.

Be realistic. Understand that changing a child's behaviour doesn't happen overnight. It takes dedication, patience and support.

Seek help. If your child has a behavioural disorder or disability, seek advice from your doctor. If they are dealing with strong emotions or grievances, they may benefit from speaking to a counsellor or youth worker.

Collaborate with the school. Schools are legally obligated to address bullying, so if your child is involved, expect to be contacted by the school. When this happens, follow our guidelines on responding to a complaint, and make sure your child also gets the support they need to change. 

Related articles 

Why is my child bullying?
Responding to a complaint
Behaviour to look out for

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