Bullying is a huge issue, whether or not your child is going through a rough time- they have no right to bring other children down. And it's important to raise awareness of bullying in children. You should never tolerate your child being unnecessarily cruel to someone- but at the same time, it's important to look for the root of the problem- and rather than simply discipline your child, encourage better behavior. So what do you do- when you find out your child was bullying?
Listen to the victim: Get the victim's side of the story first. Listen to the parent, child, school counselor, or some other person who can tell you an honest account of what your child was doing. Explain you want the facts, as honest as they can be given, about what your child did- so you can make sure to fix the issue as realistically as possible.
Get their side of the story: Before you judge your child or even lecture them- sit them down and ask them why they did what they did. Listen to their side of the story without judgement or interruption. Ask questions when you don't understand what they are saying. But truly listen to your child. It will let them know that you are FAIR because you also offered them to explain themselves. And rather than immediately jumping to conclusions- you got their side of the story as well.
Explain why their behavior is not okay: Once your child finishes explaining themselves, let them know why what they did was not okay. It hurt the other kids feelings, it disrupted the teacher's lesson, it made them look mean to other people round them.
Have them apologize to the other student: The only appropriate thing to do after an issue like this occurs, is to make sure your child apologizes. Have them write a letter, make a phone call, or meet the child at school (or at their house). Make them write an honest and thorough apology for their actions. And also make them promise to not let the same actions occur again.
Invite the other student over for an activity: One of my favorite things to do in a 'bully situation' is to have the victim over to my house and force my child to interact with them kindly. Why do I do this? For a variety of reasons. When my child gets to know the kid they were bullying, they are more likely not to bully them in the future. They learn how to develop positive relationships. They learn about forgiveness and human nature to trust again. They learn how to be kind- and find positive attributes in the other person. A few hours of time together, and most kids can be forced to get along.
Have them attend an anti-bullying campaign: There are anti-bullying campaigns held all over the country. And they're a great way to promote kindness and understanding amongst kids. Have your child attend one! Trust me- they'll leave the event with an entirely new attitude.
Watch a bullying documentary: There are quite a few documentaries on bullying in America. Make an effort to have your child watch real-life accounts of the issues kids face with bullies. It will show them the perspective of the victim, which can open their eyes and lessen their meanness.
Offer alternative ideas: Together, work with your child to create a list of alternative ways to deal with an issue- other than being mean.
Talk it out: Let your child know that there are other ways to get their point across. If a child is doing something that makes them mad- teach them how to tell them nicely to stop. There is always a better way to say things than to bully.
Tell an authority figure about an issue: If they have an issue with another child, rather than bullying them- tell an authority figure (teacher, school counselor, principal) about the issue.
Ignore "Annoying": When someone annoys your child, let them know that is NOT a reason to bully them. So rather than being mean, just simply ignore them.