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Nip Bullying in the Bud

It can be hard to admit that your child is bullying others. But when you recognize this type of behavior in your child, it's important to take action right away. Role-playing, or practicing, is an excellent way to teach positive social skills.

How to Role-Play

When teaching any social skill, it's important to practice with your child so that he or she can ​use the skill when needed. To role-play, explain to your child that you will pretend to be another person (another child, a teacher, a coach) and that he or she should use the steps of the skill you've just as if it were a real-life situation. When a practice is done, you can tell your child what he or she did well and what should have been done differently. Over time, practice will help your child get better at using the skills you want him or her to consistently use at school and at home. 

It works best to practice during a neutral time, when your child is not upset or preoccupied with something else. 

Bullying Won't Go Away By Itself

Studies show that a child's bullying will continue unless parents or other adults intervene. Bullies are commonly impulsive, lack empathy and have a strong desire to get or achieve something they feel they need. Practice self-control techniques and other strategies your child can use when he or she feels strongly that he or she must have something. Getting your child involved in volunteer activities (depending on his or her age) is a good way to develop empathy and an understanding of how actions affect others.

For more about bullying, read the helpful Boys Town book, No Room for Bullies: From the Classroom to Cyberspace from the Boys Town Press.  ​