It’s every parent’s nightmare to find out your teen is being bullied but it’s equally as stressful to find out your teen is the bully. As parents, you have the responsibility to make sure your teen isn’t abusing their peers. However, despite your best efforts, your teens may still become bullies.
Contrary to popular belief, simply instilling kindness in your teens may not be enough. According to a Harvard University project, entitled “Making Caring Common”, nearly 80% of kids said their parents taught them that personal happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for people.
To ensure you don’t raise bullies, you need to incorporate the following parenting tips into your life.
Take Interest in Your Child
Most parents don’t actively engage with their teens. Active engagement with your teen goes beyond supervising; you need to interact with them at a personal level to know who they are really are. This requires time, interest and dedication on your part.
Take them out for ice cream or pizza and spend some quality time without letting other distractions interrupt. When teens are happy, they are more likely to open up and share the details of their life with you.
These One Hundred Questions suggested by a Care.com user can really help you learn more about your teens.
Teach Them to Respect Others From An Early Age
According to Janet Lehman from EmpoweringParents.com, kids aren’t born with the inherent ability to respect others. In fact, they learn to manipulate the world around them to get what they want. Therefore, the onus is on the parents to teach their them how to respect others. As parents, you need to teach your kids:
- That everyone is unique
- To treat everyone with kindness
- How to process negative emotions in a healthy way
Regardless of your teaching, your kids might be disrespectful to people – and as parents, you need to catch that early and correct them with respect. Learn more about how to to change the attitude of your teens with regards to respecting others.
Don’t Ignore Sibling Aggression
While many parents see sibling fighting during childhood as a normal occurrence, the nature and frequency of sibling aggression can have serious consequences. For parents who don’t spend a lot of time with their teens, it is difficult to differentiate between sibling fighting and bullying. According to Joe Magliano from Psychology Today, parents need to read the early signs when their teens’ behavior is bordering on bullying.
Here’s what you can do address the growing sibling bullying and stop it from getting worse.
Get to Know Your Teen’s Friends
Teens tend to pick up the negative traits easily, especially from their peers, either in school or the neighborhood. As parents, you need to see who they’re friends with and how it affects their choices. In general, guiding your teens about their choice of friends is a very tricky affair. You need to be respectful and not question their choices outright.
Learn about their friends – you can invite them to family events or offer to carpool. In this great guide, Valerie Frankel from GoodHousekeeping.com, tells you how to deal with your kid when they buddy up with an unruly child.
Bullies lack empathy, so it’s essential that you foster empathy in your teens. Sympathetic teens are less likely to develop into bullies. More importantly, you need to exercise empathy while dealing with your teens in difficult situations – modelling empathy is the best way to inspire your teens to be empathic.
According to researchers from Harvard study on bullying, many parents and teachers tend to pass the buck and put the onus on the kids alone. When adults refuse to walk the talk, it sends mixed messages to children. Teens look up to their role models and mimic their behavior. Researchers say parents should learn how to acknowledge their own mistakes and listen to their teens, acting as an example of good behavior.
Help Kids Manage Destructive Feelings
One of the major difference between adults and teens is their ability to process destructive emotions such as anger, shame and envy. In fact, these are the emotions that hinder the ability of your teen to be kind and empathetic. Parents should teach their teens that these negative emotions are normal and they can be handled in a healthy way. When your teens understand this and weigh the potential consequences of their harmful actions, they can better manage these emotions and curb their tendency to be bullies.
Every parent wants their teen to be happy and successful but occasionally, they end up fostering an aggressive attitude and raise a bully. As parents, you need to see whether your drive to see your teen succeed turns them into a bully who is bereft of any empathy. It could be time to rethink your parenting strategy.
Teens look up to their role models and mimic their behavior.