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How Parents Turn Bullies into Caring Kids

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Parents, is your child marching in step with bullies? Is he mean to his siblings? Does he lack empathy for others?

If you'd like a checklist of bullying signs and some parenting tools for changing his behavior, keep reading. It is possible for kids to choose bravery over bullying.

Today's article includes 7 signs your child is a bully-follower, 3 questions he should ask before joining any group, 10 thoughtful discussions to promote courageous behavior, and 10 anti-bullying mottos for his ‘self-talk' consideration.

7 Signs Your Child Could Be a Bully-Follower

Does he need to grow a stronger backbone? Here are 7 signs your youngster is a bully-conformist.


1. He tries desperately to fit in.
2. She spouts the bully's thoughts.
3. He is willing to act against his values.
4. If the bully puts down others, she will too.
5. He avoids reflecting on his own thoughts or actions.
6. She is arrogant to outsiders.
7. He sides with the bully.


Your child can stop this copycat behavior. You can help your youngster become a critical thinker with better behavior. How? By recognizing how bullies hurt others.

3 Smart Questions Kids Should Ask about Bullies:

To understand how bullies torment, your child can ask himself -


1. Is the bully exaggerating the victim's faults with put-downs?
2. Is he deleting or ignoring his own faults?
3. Is he generalizing by accusing victims with words like “you always, everyone knows," and “you never?"


If your child answers "Yes" to any of these questions, advise him to reject the bully and help the victim.

Parent and Child Discussions about Bullying:

Get your children to think about the problems with bullies and bullying. Ask open-ended questions to find out what your child really thinks. Open-ended questions require more than one-word answers and don't have a specific solution. Such questions give children the freedom to share their own fresh ideas.


1. What do you think about kids who bully? Why?
2. Name 3 reasons some kids become bullies?
3. Why do some kids join in bullying others?
4. How do bullied children feel? Why?
5. If you were bullied, how would you feel? Why?
6. If you bullied others, how would you feel about yourself? Why?
7. What do you think of online bullies? Why?
8. If you were bullied, how would you like to be helped?
9. Name 3 ways you could help a bullied child.
10. Have your ever been bullied? If so, let's talk about it.


Once you hear your child's answers, appreciate his good ideas, ask more questions to clarify, and make helpful suggestions. By listening well to him first, you set up the situation for him to accept your ideas.

10 Self-Talk Mottos for Caring Kids

Encourage your child to repeat slogans that help her choose character over bullying.


1. I won't bully others. They're like sisters and brothers.
2. Bullies don't please. They abuse and tease.
3. When bullies insult, I'll tell an adult.
4. Bullying is wrong. I won't tag along.
5. My powerful mind is helpful and kind.
6. My friends won't include mean kids who are rude.
7. If a kid is attacked, I'll yell, “Stop, get back!
8. When I see a victim, I'll go and assist him.
9. It's better to be kind that bully kids online.
10. A bully's tongue offends everyone.

Repeating character building mottos can create pathways in your child's brain. They help him choose good over poor behavior. Such choices become values to live by. When he opts for what is right, he'll feel better inside. That feeling is worth more than gold.

Conclusion for How Parents Help Kids Choose Bravery Over Bullying:

If the 7 signs identified your child as a bully-follower, you can turn him around.

Discuss the 3 questions he could think about before joining any bully or group. Tell him to check his gut too. Many times, our gut tells us that something is wrong. Talk about the importance of paying attention to it.

Use the 10 discussion questions to promote kind behavior. When the best ideas come from him and you praise him for them, don't be surprised if he follows his own advice.

Encourage him to pick one of the 10 anti-bullying mottoes for his 'self-talk.' Suggest he repeat it often.

By helping your child choose kindness over bullying, you'll be building character. Enjoy the good feeling of being an effective parent.

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