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How Can I Tell if My Teen Is a Bully?

Mom.com logo Mom.com 10/2/2019 Deborah Cruz
a person wearing glasses talking on a cell phone: is-your-child-a-bully-featured2 © Provided by RockYou Media(mom.me; purpleclover.com) is-your-child-a-bully-featured2

Did you know that 1 in 4 children/teens are bullied every year? It’s a staggering statistic when you consider the fact that your child is almost definitely going to get bullied in their lifetime. We’re a nation of anti-bullying advocates. We have zero tolerance policies for bullying in school — and yet, bullying behavior is just as prevalent as it ever was. We spend our tenure as parents worrying that someone might bully our child and make him feel less than.

However, no parent wants to even consider that their child could be the bully. It’s unfathomable, especially when we’re all trying so hard to raise good human beings and encouraging them to make good choices. But try as we may, sometimes our kids are the bullies.

I hate when bullying happens, but since becoming a parent I try to separate the bullying behavior from the teenager. No one is all bad or all good, so I’d like to think that if my teen ever bullied anyone, it was a misstep on a bad day and not a regular behavior that they thought was acceptable.

As parents, we need to recognize the signs of not only when children are being bullied but also when they themselves are the bullies. We need a plan in place to teach them to be and to do better by their fellow students.

Lori Garcia, blogger and mom to teen boys, looks for signs of bullying behavior by her kids. “I check their texts whenever my mom-meter feels off, to keep my finger on the pulse,” she told Mom.com.

Here are some signs that your child may be bullying other kids.

Sleepless in high school

a group of people sitting at a table using a laptop computer: is-your-child-a-bully-1 © Provided by RockYou Media(mom.me; purpleclover.com) is-your-child-a-bully-1 Teenagers with aggressive or bullying tendencies are more likely to experience sleep-disordered breathing issues, like snoring or daytime sleepiness. There could be a link between sleep problems and irritability or anger issues. Being exhausted can put anyone in a bad mood and hinder decision-making — especially an angsty teen. If you think your teen is experiencing sleep problems, talk to your doctor. This might prevent potential bullying behavior.

They’re victims of domestic violence at home

If a teenager lives in a home where they’re constantly seeing violence or they’re the victim of domestic violence themselves, violence is likely to be how they react to stressful situations. It’s the behavior they’ve seen modeled at home and it’s the only thing they’ve known. When a child is abused at home, they feel helpless and frustrated. This turns to anger, and they take their aggressions out on others because they usually can’t take it out on the person who is abusing them.

It’s always everybody else’s fault

If your teen’s getting into trouble at school and always blames the other person, look deeper. Why are they reacting so aggressively? If a teenager fails to realize that their actions are part of the problem, when their emotions get the best of them, they may feel justified in reacting with aggression and bullying behavior.

They hang with bullies

a group of people looking at a birthday cake: is-your-child-a-bully-3 © Provided by RockYou Media(mom.me; purpleclover.com) is-your-child-a-bully-3 Does your teen seem overly concerned with what other people think? If your teenager’s friends are the mean girls, your teen might be a bully, too.

Social worker Andrea Eisen Bates urges parents to know the company their children keep. “Look at their friends,” she told Mom.com. “If you see red-flag behaviors coming from the people your teen hangs out with, there's a strong chance your child does these things, too.”

Unchecked bad behavior

a close up of a person wearing a hat: is-your-child-a-bully-3b © Provided by RockYou Media(mom.me; purpleclover.com) is-your-child-a-bully-3b Teens who have bad tempers, are easily frustrated, lack impulse control, are prone to fighting, and lack empathy toward others are at a higher risk of becoming bullies.

Not only that, but if your teen is being aggressive toward or bullying their siblings, chances are they are doing the same thing at school.

Making fun of people who are different

If your teen is demonstrating a lack of ability or willingness to accept people who are different from them (i.e., different ethnic backgrounds, genders, disabilities, sexual orientations), it needs to be addressed. It could be that they feel uncomfortable and don’t know how to act in unfamiliar situations. The bottom line is that it’s not OK to be mean because they feel uncomfortable.

As parents, we don’t want to admit — even to ourselves — that our child could be the bully. We get defensive and feel embarrassed and ashamed, as if we've failed at parenting. But this isn’t about us. We need to put aside our egos, face reality, and get to the root of the issue to help our teen find a better way to deal with their bullying tendencies. Denial only prolongs the problem.

Slideshow: 18 proven strategies to teach kids to handle bullying (Provided by Cheapism) 
a group of people looking at the camera: Sadly, the majority of the world's youth are exposed to bullying in some way. According to U.S. Department of Education, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students are bullied, with the most common occurrence of bullying happening in middle school. While not every student is bullied, a whopping 70 percent of students have witnessed bullying. Whether or not they're the target, bullying can create a stressful and unhealthy learning environment for students of all ages. Here are tips for parents and kids to understand bullying — and how to stop it. © FatCamera/istockphoto Sadly, the majority of the world's youth are exposed to bullying in some way. According to U.S. Department of Education, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students are bullied, with the most common occurrence of bullying happening in middle school. While not every student is bullied, a whopping 70 percent of students have witnessed bullying. Whether or not they're the target, bullying can create a stressful and unhealthy learning environment for students of all ages. Here are tips for parents and kids to understand bullying — and how to stop it.

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