Why Is My Teen Showing Bullying Behaviour?

bullying behaviour 1

Reading time: 5 minutes

Suitable for: Families of secondary-age children

Read the primary-age version of this QUICK READ

Seeing your child being a perpetrator of bullying can be a hard thing to accept. You might feel upset, angry, embarrassed, or all of these emotions and wonder why your child is behaving this way when you've taught them not to.

Most children have learnt about bullying, particularly at school, and will know that it is wrong. However, your child may not realise that their behaviour counts as bullying. Children can be both the victim and the perpetrator of bullying, or a bystander, and they can move between these roles.

Your child may not realise that their behaviour is bullying, and their actions may be masking their own concerns, anxieties, or unmet needs. Instead of condemning them as a bully, understanding why they are behaving this way can help you find the best ways to support them.

Talk to your teen about their behaviour

Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t rush to criticise. Try to understand their situation by listening to them. Remember that talking about their behaviour might make them feel embarrassed or ashamed. Approach the topic slowly and avoid interrogating them or becoming very emotional. Give them time to talk about what's been happening.

It might be easier for them to write things down if they find it hard to talk to you. You can also reduce the pressure by talking while you do something else, like cooking dinner, driving, or taking a walk.

Bullying is not just physical. It can take many forms: name-calling, online bullying, threatening behaviour.


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