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Parents - Don’t Raise a Bully! Parenting Strategies that Reduce Violence and Bullying

While bullying behavior stems from a combination or personal and environmental factors, there is no denying that bullying is a learned behavior and that much of what children learn comes from the home and family. Children are also much better copying the behaviors that we as parents display than the behaviors that we teach with our words.

Want to raise a child who won’t grow into be a bully?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHSA) to reduce the odds your child will become violent1, make sure you:

Deal with any substance abuse in your family. Children who grow up in a home with substance abuse are more likely to become violent.

Make your home a violence free zone. Children who are the victims of violence in the home and even those who witness violence in the home are twice as likely to commit a criminal offense and more likely to start getting in trouble at younger ages than kids raised in homes without violence.

Make your child feel loved and make sure you get and stay involved in your child’s life. A lack of warmth and involvement in parenting raises the risks of violence and bullying.

Make sure you set appropriate limits and discipline when needed. Overly permissive parenting can result in increased violence, but likewise, overly harsh and corporal punishment is also associated with an increased risk of violence. Encouraging your child to be tough and hard, especially for boys, and permitting acts of aggression teaches further aggression and increases the likelihood of violence and bullying. These children are being taught to integrate self esteem and self concept with a need for power, control and aggression.

Make sure your child never suffers emotional, sexual or physical abuse.

Things that you can do to further reduce the risks of your child becoming a bully include:

  • Helping your child to develop a positive expectation for social situations
  • Making sure you and your child have a warm and healthy relationship and encouraging healthy relationships between your child and other adults (grandparents, friends of the family, etc.)
  • If possible minimizing your child’s exposure to community crime and drugs (this can require relocation, and may not always be possible)
  • Helping your child to develop a love of learning and reading and encouraging school performance
  • Helping your child to develop competency and achievement in positive activities (such as sport, art, music etc.) so that they can achieve reward and recognition for doing ‘good’
  • Teaching your child that bad behaviors carry consequences2


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Helpful Reading:

  • Relational bullies use our needs for acceptance and friendship against us as they manipulate and harm our social relationships. The victims of relational bullies may never come home battered and bruised, but the pain of being the victim nasty gossip and rumors or social exclusion is just as real and just as harmful. Relational bullying peaks during middle school and its perpetrators and victims are usually girls, and unfortunately - most of the time, the bullies get away with and adults never even learn about it. Learn more about relational bullying and about what you can do to make sure your child never becomes a victim.

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  • Bullying can dramatically change life's course. It's a pervasive cultural problem. We must teach ourselves and our children not to bully.

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