My Son Has Become a Bully!

When my son was in kindergarten, he was picked on for being overweight. We taught him to stick up for himself. Now that he is in the second grade, he has become a bully. How can I turn my bully back into a sweet little boy?


There are some rather simple activities that you can do at home to help your son learn to deal with his peers in a more appropriate way. For example, read stories about bullies with him. When reading the books, point out the mistakes that the characters make in their interactions with each other and ask your son for ideas about what the characters could have done better. You can also use this opportunity to show him that there are consequences for inappropriate actions. I found several titles, including "Bully on the Bus" by Carl Bosch; "Bad News Bully" by Marcia Leonard, "The Berenstain Bears and the Bully" by Stan and Jan Berenstain, "Pinky and Rex and the Bully" by James Howe.

Role-playing is also a good strategy to use in redirecting unwanted behavior. Design some scenarios that could really occur between your son and his peers at school and act them out with him. In order for this strategy to be most effective, have your son take turns playing each role, that of the bully and that of the "victim." This will give him the language, options and understanding that he needs to make better choices when faced with these difficult situations.

There are some books on the market that may give you more ideas on ways to help your child alleviate this unwanted behavior. "Keys to Dealing With Bullies", by Barry McNamara, is just one of the titles I found that may be able to shed some light on the foundation for this behavior (which you have already determined in the case of your child), as well as interventions that can be used in confrontations.

Working in conjunction with your son's teacher is also a good idea. Perhaps you can establish a reward system of some kind that will positively reinforce the correct behavior while discouraging the bully type behavior. Frequent contact with the teacher is going to be very important in handling this situation.

If you try these suggestions and have unimpressive results, you may want to consider working with a counselor to develop a behavior modification program for your son. Should the problem reach this degree, ask the school or your family doctor for a referral to a counselor who specializes in working with young children.

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