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.

Part Three – How to Stop a Child from Being a Bully.

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.

“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.” – Jeffery Benjamin

Part Three – How to Stop a Child from Being a Bully.

What is bullying?

“Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.” –

There are three main types of bullying:

  1. Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

2. Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

3. Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:

  • Hitting/kicking/pinching
  • Spitting
  • Tripping/pushing
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures

When your child is the bully:

It can be very shocking to find out that your child is labeled as the bully.  He might have picket on other children, teased them or even physically hurt them.  It is very important to deal immediately deal with it – no matter how hard it might be to process. If it isn’t stopped right away, it can lead to more aggressive behavior and interfere with your child’s success in school and ability to form and sustain friendships.

Children bully for various reasons. They might feel insecure about themselves so picking on a child that seems emotionally or physically weaker, they might feel  feel important, popular or in control. In other cases children bully others because they don’t know that what they are doing is wrong to pick on children who is a different size, race or religion.

There are also cases where children bully because of ongoing defiant or aggressive behavior. These kids usually need some help to manage their anger and their hurt, their frustration and other strong emotions. Children don’t always have the skills they need to properly cooperate with other children. Professional counseling often can help them learn to deal with their feelings, curb their bullying, and improve their social skills.

Some kids who bully at school and in settings with their peers are copying behavior that they see at home. Kids who are exposed to aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way. And kids who are on the receiving end of taunting learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak.

Helping Kids Stop Bullying:

Let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.

Try to understand the reasons behind your child’s behavior. In some cases, kids bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, frustration, or insecurity. In other cases, kids haven’t learned cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences.

Tactics to Try:

Be sure to:

  • Take bullying seriously. Make sure your kids understand that you will not tolerate bullying at home or anywhere else. Establish rules about bullying and stick to them. If you punish your child by taking away privileges, be sure it’s meaningful. For example, if your child bullies other kids via email, text messages, or a social networking site, dock phone or computer privileges for a period of time. If your child acts aggressively at home, with siblings or others, put a stop to it. Teach more appropriate (and nonviolent) ways to react, like walking away.
  • Teach kids to treat others with respect and kindness. Teach your child that it is wrong to ridicule differences (e.g., race, religion, appearance, special needs, gender, economic status) and try to instill a sense of empathy for those who are different. Consider getting involved together in a community group where your child can interact with kids who are different.
  • Learn about your child’s social life. Look for insight into the factors that may be influencing your child’s behavior in the school environment (or wherever the bullying is occurring). Talk with parents of your child’s friends and peers, teachers, guidance counselors, and the school principal. Do other kids bully? What about your child’s friends? What kinds of pressures do the kids face at school? Talk to your kids about those relationships and about the pressures to fit in. Get them involved in activities outside of school so that they meet and develop friendships with other kids.
  • Encourage good behavior. Positive reinforcement can be more powerful than negative discipline. Catch your kids being good — and when they handle situations in ways that are constructive or positive, take notice and praise them for it.
  • Set a good example. Think carefully about how you talk around your kids and how you handle conflict and problems. If you behave aggressively — toward or in front of your kids — chances are they’ll follow your example. Instead, point out positives in others, rather than negatives. And when conflicts arise in your own life, be open about the frustrations you have and how you cope with your feelings.

Starting at Home:

The first place to look for influences is usually  at home. Children who live in a home with yelling, name-calling, harsh criticisms, put-downs, or physical anger from an older sibling, parent or caregiver may act it out in other settings.

It’s natural — and common — for kids to fight with their siblings at home. And unless there’s a risk of physical violence it’s wise not to get involved. But monitor the name-calling and any physical altercations and be sure to talk to each child regularly about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

It’s important to keep your own behavior in check too. Watch how you talk to your kids, and how you react to your own strong emotions when they’re around. There will be situations that warrant discipline and constructive criticism. But take care not to let that slip into name-calling and accusations. If you’re not pleased with your child’s behavior, stress that it’s the behavior that you’d like your child to change, and you have confidence that he or she can do it.

If your family is going through a stressful life event that you feel may have contributed to your child’s behavior, reach out for help from the resources at school and in your community. Guidance counselors, pastors, therapists, and your doctor can help.

Getting Help:

To help a child stop bullying, talk with teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials who can help you identify situations that lead to bullying and provide assistance.

Your doctor also might be able to help. If your child has a history of arguing, defiance, and trouble controlling anger, consider an evaluation with a therapist or behavioral health professional.

As difficult and frustrating as it can be to help kids stop bullying, remember that bad behavior won’t just stop on its own. Think about the success and happiness you want your kids to find in school, work, and relationships throughout life, and know that curbing bullying now is progress toward those goals.

Next week will be the fourth and final part of our bully blog. Part Four – How to punish a child for bullying. To read Part One – Identifying bullying, click here and to read Part Two – Helping children deal with being bullied, click here.

Bullying Part Two – Helping Children deal with being Bullied

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.

“Be yourself, because the people who mind don’t matter and the people that matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

Part Two – Helping Children deal with being bullied.

Helping Children:

When a child comes to you and tells you that they are being bullied, you will probably have a hard time to wrap your head around it. It is very important to listen calmly without interrupting and to offer comfort and support. Kids are often reluctant to tell someone when they are being bullied, especially a parent or guardian because they feel embarrassed and ashamed of it. They will also feel that they are a disappointment to their families and they will think that their families will be angry or upset with them.

Children will usually feel that it is their own fault when they are being bullied. Their first reaction to it will be to either give in to the bullying or to feel as if they are not good enough, pretty enough or that they do not fit in with other children. Kids will also be scared that if they tell someone about they bullying and they tell them who the bully is, the bully will get angry and then the bullying will become even worse. Other kids might feel that if they told someone about it, they will not believe them and will not help them. They might also be afraid that they will be told to fight back and they might not feel strong or brave enough to fight back.

What to do:

It is very important to praise the child for telling you about the bullying. You have to make sure that they know and understand that they have done the right thing by telling someone about it. They also need to know that they are not alone and that a lot of people get bullied at some point in their life. Also emphasize the fact that it is not the child that is behaving badly and that it is the bully that is in the wrong. You will also need to tell the child that you will help them and that you will figure out what to do about it and hoe to stop it – together.

  1. Talk to the child’s teacher. If the bullying is happening at school, it would really help if you can talk to the teacher or an administrative person at the school – immediately. Most schools have a protocol against bullying. Make sure that you know exactly what happened and who was involved before you talk to them.
  2. Contact the bully’s parents. This is only advised when the intimidation is persistent and when you feel that the parents will be willing to work with you and help you with this. You can email or call them but it is very important to be non-confrontational when contacting them and making it clear that your goal is to resolve the matter together. You might say something like, “I’m phoning because my daughter has come home from school feeling upset every day this week. She tells me that Angie has called her names and excluded her from games at the playground. I don’t know whether Angie has mentioned any of this, but I’d like us to help them get along better. Do you have any suggestions?”
  3. Coach your child to get help. No matter how the child is being targeted, fighting back is never an option.  It is better to teach them to walk away and seek help from an adult – teacher or supervising adult. To avoid harassment, try the buddy system as kids are less likely to pick on a kid when they are in a group of friends.  But also keep in mind that you would still need to get involved. “When Karin’s daughter Grace started kindergarten, she had problems with a third-grader on her bus. “He gave Grace an ‘Indian sunburn’ and tried to make her kiss another boy,” says Karin, of Princeton, New Jersey. When she learned that the boy had also bothered other kids, she complained to the school and asked the bus driver to keep an eye on him. He stopped misbehaving within two weeks.”

Encourage positive behavior:

  1. Promote positive body language. By age 3, your child is ready to learn tricks that will make her a less inviting target. “Tell your child to practice looking at the color of her friends’ eyes and to do the same thing when she’s talking to a child who’s bothering her,” says Michele Borba, Ed.D., a Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. This will force her to hold her head up so she’ll appear more confident. Also practice making sad, brave, and happy faces and tell her to switch to “brave” if she’s being bothered. “How you look when you encounter a bully is more important than what you say,” says Dr. Borba.
  2. Practice a script. Rehearse the right way to respond to a tough kid (you might even use a stuffed animal as a stand-in) so your child will feel better prepared. Teach him to speak in a strong, firm voice — whining or crying will only encourage a bully. Suggest that he say something like, “Stop bothering me!” or “I’m not going to play with you if you act mean.” He could also try, “Yeah, whatever,” and then walk away. “The key is that a comeback shouldn’t be a put-down, because that aggravates a bully,” says Dr. Borba.
  3. Erin Farrell Talbot, of New York City, prepped her 3-year-old son, Liam, on how to cope with two aggressive boys at day care. “We talked about how if one of them grabs his toy, he should say, ‘No, stop! I’m playing with that!’ in a loud voice,” she says. “They stopped right away. I’m proud because he learned how to stick up for himself.”
  4. Praise progress. When your child tells you how she defused a harasser, let her know you’re proud. If you witness another child standing up to a bully in the park, point it out to your child so she can copy that approach. Above all, emphasize the idea that your own mom may have told you when you were a kid: If your child shows that she can’t be bothered, a bully will usually move on.

Note: Most schools have bullying policies and anti-bullying programs. In addition, many states have bullying laws and policies. Find out about the laws in your community. In certain cases, if you have serious concerns about your child’s safety, you may need to contact legal authorities.

Next week will be the third part of our bully blog. Part Three – How to stop a child from being a bully. To read Part One – Identifying bullying, click here.

Bullying Part One – Identifying 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.

“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.”

Bullying Part One – Identifying bullying.

Examples of bullying:

Every day, Harry, 10, asks his mother for more lunch money. Yet he seemed skinnier than ever and comes home from school hungry. Turns out that Harry is handing his lunch money to a fifth-grader, who is threatening to beat him up if he didn’t pay.

Kayla, 13, thought things were going well at her new school, since all the popular girls were being so nice to her. But then she found out that one of them had posted mean rumours about her. Kayla cried herself to sleep that night and started going to the nurse’s office complaining of a stomach-ache to avoid the girls in study hall.

According to national surveys, children and teenagers say that most bullying happens at school. A bully can turn everyday activities into nightmares. It can leave deep emotional scars and in extreme situations, it can involve violent threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt. There are ways to help a child or teenager cope with teasing, bullying, or mean gossip, and lessen its lasting impact. And even if bullying isn’t an issue right now, it’s important to discuss it so that kids will be prepared if it does happen.

Identifying Bullying:

“Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use social media or electronic messaging to taunt others or hurt their feelings.” – Kids Health

It is very important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as another childhood trial or normal childhood behaviour. The effects can be very damaging and can influence how a child sees himself as a person and it can make them feel worthless. It can also affect their sense of safety and self-esteem. In severe cases, bullying can end in horrific tragedies such as self-harm, suicides or even school shootings.

Signs of bullying:

Unless the child or teen tells you about the bullying or if you can see visible signs thereof, such as scars or bruises, it can be quite difficult to figure out if it is happening. There are signs to look out for:

  • Personality changes
  • The child is acting differently
  • Sleeplessness
  • A change in eating habits
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Moodiness (Worse than usual)
  • They start avoiding certain places/situations

If you suspect bullying but your child is reluctant to open up, find opportunities to bring up the issue in a more roundabout way. For instance, you might see a situation on a TV show and use it as a conversation starter by asking, “What do you think of this?” or “What do you think that person should have done?” This might lead to questions like: “Have you ever seen this happen?” or “Have you ever experienced this?” You might want to talk about any experiences you or another family member had at that age.

It is also very important to talk to children about bullying and harassment. If they are being bullied or harassed (or see it happening to someone else), they need to know that they have to tell someone about it. They can talk to you, their parents, a teacher, a family member or even an older sibling.

Keep an eye out for our next blog – Bullying Part Two: Helping children deal with being bullied.

School Holiday Help

Let’s take a moment to remember all those parents of school aged children at this difficult time. Don’t forget, it’s considered impolite not to bring a bottle when you visit. (Preferably a clear spirit that can be disguised as water.)

School Holidays

Ah, school holidays.. who doesn’t like school holidays? Well, let’s not answer that out loud! As I am writing this blog post, I am watching three little musketeers pretending to be the cast of Paw Patrol. I know the song off by heart now so I am silently singing along as they play and put out extremely dangerous fires. They had a road block earlier because apparently the Mayor fell into a big hole and the Paw Patrol gang needed to save him. Another big twist in the tale was when a cat got stuck under a house (Not a typo, it really got stuck under a house). The Paw Patrol gang then had to break down the entire house to save the, and I quote a four year old, “Silly banana kitty cat!” It is just astonishing to see how kids think, what they imagine and what they feel.

Generally, kids can keep themselves busy. They love to have friends over and have playdates, tea parties and sleepovers. But what happens if they get bored? Boredom is inevitable after a few days or for some, after a few hours. I have compiled a list of places and activities to keep children busy during the school holidays. I have also decided to share it – yay!

Places to go:

  • Bambanani – Melville
  • Acrobranch – Melrose
  • Johannesburg Zoo – Johannesburg
  • Zoo Lake – Johannesburg
  • Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens – Roodepoort
  • Planetarium – Johannesburg
  • The Bee Maize Maze – Honeydew
  • Papachinos – Roodepoort
  • City Rock – Johannesburg
  • Peoples Theatre – Johannesburg
  • Ice-Skating – Northgate
  • iJump – Roodepoort
  • Gold Reef City Theme Park – Johannesburg
  • Monte Casino Bird Park – Fourways
  • Rollegoli – Bryanston
  • Croc City Crocodile and Reptile Park – Fourways
  • Lifestyle Garden Centre – Randpark Ridge

Games to play – no explanation required:

  • Riding bikes
  • Swimming
  • Soccer
  • Making Mud Pies
  • Obstacle courses
  • Trampolines
  • Jungle Gyms
  • Playing Catch
  • Fantasy Play
  • Painting
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Stick Maze
  • Shadow Drawing
  • Bird Watching
  • Finding shapes in the clouds
  • Painting and crafting rocks
  • Planting seeds and taking care of them
  • Jump Rope
  • Climb Trees

I sincerely hope that this will help you to enjoy the school holidays a bit – some are lucky enough to only have a one week break. For the rest of you that has a longer school holiday – you have my condolences.