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Understanding Bullying

Sad boy walking away from group of bullies

‚ÄčLiving with a child who is a bully creates a tense and unsafe environment at home. Understanding what drives a bullying child will help you take the appropriate corrective action to curb this behavior and restore peace to your home.

It's easy to focus on the hitting, name-calling and abuse doled out by bullies. But lasting change won't happen if you focus only on the behaviors and trying to change them. Rather, understanding what's behind the behaviors will help bring about lasting changes.


  • Are impulsive
  • Lack empathy
  • Need to control and dominate others
  • Value aggression
  • Are usually strong and physically mature
  • Are driven by accomplishment

What's Behind Bullying?

Inside, most bullies are not happy. They struggle to control their anger and may often cry after bullying a younger sibling or friend. This crying expresses sadness and dissatisfaction with their unhealthy behavior. While they often are physically overdeveloped or ahead of others their age, bullies commonly have room to grow socially and emotionally. A bully needs help maturing emotionally and socially.

If your child is bullying others at home, talk with his or her pediatrician about it. Ask for counseling and training recommendations. Prepare other family members so they can avoid confrontations with your child and have a plan of escape when bullying behaviors begin. Tell siblings that your whole family is working together to help the bullying child. 

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