Part Four – How to punish a child for bullying

I have had a few Au pairs asking me about bullying. I have decided to break up this topic into four parts.

  1. Part One – Identifying bullying.
  2. Part Two – Helping children deal with being bullied.
  3. Part Three – How to stop a child from being a bully.
  4. Part Four – How to punish a child for bullying.


“Kids are not born to be bullies, they are taught to be bullies.” – Matt Bomer

Part Four – How to punish a child for bullying

10 Ways to discipline a child for bullying:

There is absolutely no parent that would be happy when they get the dreaded phone call from school that informs them that their child is in fact the bully at school. It is so easy to over react to this news and to take very drastic steps to try and resolve the issue as soon as possible. A very sad fact is that there are so many children that bullies other children. Even the most well-behaved and well-mannered children can engage in bullying.

Its important to remember that there are so many reasons behind bullying.  Regardless of the reasons behind the bullying, you have to discipline the child for his or her poor choices. It is not okay to bully – ever!  The bullying behaviors will not end unless the child takes responsibility for his or her actions, admits their mistakes and learns how to change their behavior. Here are ten ways to address the child’s bullying behavior:

1 Address the Bullying Immediately 

The moment you learn about the bullying, it is so very important that you talk to the child immediately. This will show the child that you are aware of what they are doing. You can tell them that bullying is unacceptable and t will not be tolerated. You do not have to list the consequences immediately but you can let the child know that he or she will be disciplined.

2 Determine the Root Cause

If you want to discipline the child in the correct manner, you will have to find out why the child has decided to bully another. Lets say that the child has been a victim of bullying, you would need to help the child cope with that first. If the child bullied other kids because he or she wants to be popular or be part of a clique, then you will need to address the importance of healthy friendships and resisting peer pressure. Just be careful to not give the child an excuse for being a bully. Instead, this information should give you an idea of how to address their poor choices and discipline them appropriately.

3 Remind Your Child that Bullying Is a Choice

The child has to recognize that no matter the reason behind the bullying behavior, it was his or her own choice to bully another. The child also has to understand that they are responsible for their actions. Make sure that the child owns up to their choice and takes the responsibility. Sometimes kids will refuse to take responsibility. Do not let this attitude slide. Continue discussing the situation until the child can communicate that he or she understands their responsibility. (Patience will be needed for this.)

4 Develop Logical Consequences

We have all heard the statement: “the punishment should fit the crime.” This is especially true when it comes to discipline for bullying. If the child was using a computer or cell phone to cyberbully others, then a logical consequence would be a loss of computer privileges and cell phone use. If the child used her status on the cheer leading squad to bully others or bullied others because she is part of a clique, then she should lose that status for a period of time. You might choose to “suspend” her from a game or two or not allow her to spend time with the friends who participated in the bullying with her. Just remember that every bullying situation is different and as a result the consequences will be different.

5 Take Away Privileges

This might be the most popular way  of discipline. It is also a discipline form that is used on children of all ages. From toddlers to teenagers. This is usually a very effective way of discipline. You can take away screen-time, cellphones or computers. Take away the  privilege of going to parties or play-dates. The list really is endless. The point is to demonstrate that bullying behavior has consequences and will not be tolerated. Just be sure that once you take something away that you do not give in later. Also be clear on the length of time that the privilege will be revoked.

6 Support the School’s Disciplinary Plan

Although supporting the school can be very difficult for parents, it is an extremely important step. When you partner with the school and support the plan they are implementing, you are allowing the children to learn a valuable life lesson. It also shows them that there are consequences for bad choices and Mom or Dad will not rescue them. The worst decision you could make is to enable their bad decisions by attempting to rescue them from the pain of consequences.

7 Teach Your Child New Skills

Pay attention to the details of the child’s bullying behavior. Are there skills the child is lacking that may prevent future bullying incidents like anger management and impulse control? Or, is the child just bullying to fit in or to get attention? If so, this could be a self-esteem issue. Help the child see their value and worth outside of what peers have to say. And if bullying is related to cliques, help the child to develop healthy friendships.

8 Avoid Shaming Your Child

Lately, parents have started shaming their kids as a way of disciplining them. For instance, they make their child wear a sign and stand on a street corner. Or, they take an embarrassing picture of their child and post it on social media with a lengthy explanation of their child’s transgressions. While these actions have attracted media attention, they are not useful discipline strategies. Instead, kids learn that it is acceptable to embarrass and humiliate others. Additionally, shaming is a form of bullying and should not be used to discipline.

9 Concentrate on Instilling Empathy

Talk about the consequences of bullying. And be sure the child takes the time to really think about how they would feel if they were the ones being bullied. When kids learn to see things from a different perspective, they are less likely to bully again in the future. In fact, raising the child’s emotional intelligence and instilling empathy goes a long way in preventing bullying.

10 Prevent Future Bullying Incidents

Sometimes when bullying is caught early and addressed appropriately, it usually won’t happen again. But do not automatically assume this is the case. Instead, monitor the child’s behavior and continue to discipline them if necessary. If given the right skill set, most kids who bully others can change. It just takes some time.

This concludes our four part blog on bullying. If you want to read the previous three blogs, you can find their links at the top of this page.

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