Is Your Kid a Bully?

Updated on January 17, 2012
☆.A. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
25 answers

It seems like everyone thinks there kid(s) are not bullies.
I know we'd all like to believe we all have raised children that would never bully another child.
But, logically, clearly, some people have.
Someone HAS to be the bully.

How do you know for sure if your child is or is not a bully?
Can we ever be sure?

Catwalk--I think that qualifies him for "hero", not "bully"!
And I think we all know that "assertive" does not equal "bully".

What can I do next?

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi denise-

I think all of my kids have the 'potential' to be bullies...I think we ALL do. Hell, they have been certainly known to 'bully' O. another!! (except for special child...she is NOT bullied by any of her sibs!)

My eldest was suspended when he was in middle school. He 'cold cocked' a classmate who was calling another classmate a 'fag'. The child who was name calling was not suspended. I was proud of my son...and made his suspension just as much fun as I could.

Does that make him a bully?? I don't know...

I am interested to read responses...

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My son is not a bully.
He was voted 'Most Tolerant' of his class last year.
He gets along with everyone of all ages and if he sees something he doesn't like he'll tell people to cut it out.
He's the tallest in his class, but he's a gentle giant.
He's also a 2nd Don black belt and not afraid to stand up for himself.
He helps teach forms to younger students at taekwondo and quite a few of the younger kids look up to him - they joke he's their adopted big brother.
He's not quite 13 and he's already a role model.
My boy makes me so proud!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My ex sis in law will tell you that her son is a bully. She just can't get that it's because her husband has taught him to be that way.

My son has bullied his 1/2 sister... And he got punished for it. He's 3. She's 8.

So far, he has not been at school. I've asked.

My daughter showed some of the "classic" signs of being O. of the "plastics" and I immediately put a stop to it.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Carfeul! All you moms with sweet, shy empathetic kids that think bullies breed bullies. My girl was the sweetest, shyest, most empathetic child. She went with me to do volunteer work, grew up failry poor, wasn't spolied or neglected. She was the apple of her mom and dads eye and so very helpful. She never got into a bit of trouble. She would pick the kid up that fell on the playground. SHe would stick up for things she thought wer wrong and she was crazy about recycling and keeping our Earth healthy. Then.....she hit puberty. SHe was beautiful overnight and didn't know how to handle that power with grace at that age. She's all those wonderful things again now, she just had a peiod where she was a total monster! It can happen to any sweet kid. Especially the shy ones that blossom like swans over night.

I didn't want to be O. of those moms, so, I inquired on a regular basis with her teachers, counselors and friends. My oldest went through a "Mean Girl" stage where she was part of a clique of pretty girls that everyone called "The Plastics." They called her Barbie. She was brutal to guys that tried to hit on her and pretty snarky about other girls hair and clothes. I snatched every nice thing she had away. I took her makeup and her straightener. I left her with 5 baggy tshirts, 3 pair of jeans and 1 pair of tennis shoes. This is what my wardrobe looked like when I was 15. Didn't take her long to get back on track and show empathy and compassion. Years later we discussed it and she said she was mean as a way of defending herself against people being mean to her. We moved to a new school and she wanted other girls to know better than to mess with her. They usually ended up wanting to be friends with her in the end. I know high school is a jungle and she felt she had to be tough to protect herself.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would have always said no because my daughter is very kind and empathetic, and we talked about bullying, etc...until once when she was in fifth grade a mom called me and told me that my daughter had bullied her daughter. Even though this mom can be hyper-sensitive with her kids, I did address my daughter immediately about it.

I ended up taking my daughter over to their house, where we all sat around my friend's kitchen table (yes, I considered her a friend, and still do), and I gave my daughter the opportunity to apologize for her actions. She cried and was very embarrassed, but the two girls are still in Girl Scouts together and are still friendly.

Prior to this incident I would have said absolutely not--but it turns out my daughter was being bullied in school and I think she in turn was aggressive with this other girl...I guess we all have to pay close attention to our kids, because I never ever would have expected this...

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I know for a fact my oldest daughter has participated in bullying behavior towards other girls, ALL of her friends have at O. point or another, it is really disturbing :(
Teenage girls band together and lash out at O. another over the most trivial stuff, even the best of girls are guilty of it sometimes. It doesn't help that we live in a very high pressure, high achieving community. And the most popular girls are often the cruelest, therefore it's almost seen as a "cool" thing (and when I say popular I'm talking about the best students and athletes!)
I worry about my twelve year old, she is much more sensitive than her sister and I just don't know how she's going to handle the mean girl stuff down the road.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

Because if I ever caught my child treating another kid in a way they would not want to be treated themselves, their little life would be OVER!! You've heard the term 'grounded for life', yes?

My kids are well aware of the term 'bully', and they can tell me who's a bully and who isn't... if they're being less than kind to each other, I make them think long and hard about which set of kids they're acting like...

...they know better ;)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Really do think anyone would admit that-That is kinda like asking if you have ugly kids? Here is what I hear he is not a bully he is misunderstood he is bi-polar- has adhd- social anxiety-adult detachment or whatever that is when they just dont like authority- he doesnt know he is doing it

My son has adhd I dont medicate him he his a pain in the Arse-
he is however not mean-

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

No I'm quite sure my girls are not bullies. We talk all the time about how kids treat each other when adults aren't around and I've done enough distant observing to get a pretty good idea of how they interact with others. In fact they are more apt to stand up for someone being put down than join in.
I'm not sure about the bully parents raising bully kids, while I'm sure it's true in some cases I see a lot of mean kids that have more of a sense of entitlement than anything else. There seems to be a lack of teaching basic empathy in many families. The idea that you could walk in someone elses shoes, "how would that feel?" type of conversation is so important for every age. Including adults...seems I see that same lack of empathy for others who are in a tough spot right here on this site quite often.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Some mamas stated that parents who bully, their children become bullys too. I don't agree with that, because I am probably the quite, shy parent. Now that my middle child is agressive and loud, I truly cringe at it.
I would like him to be quite, fun and enjoyable to be around. He is not that. He is aggressive in what he wants to do, he can be loud and he can be fun.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Bully parents tend to raise bully kids... just an observation from many many years of working with children in schools and families in counseling.

If mom or dad is an obnoxious a-hole, the kid probably will be too. We're actually worried about our little guy being bullied later in life. He's very quiet and sensitive. My husband asked the preschool teacher and she assured us that it's much easier to teach a child to be assertive than to make a mean child kind-hearted.

Children learn what they live....

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Well, with my older two I knew everyone and every parent in their class. With my older daughter she won every election she was in because as O. of her friends put it, she protects everyone.

Andy has Autism, he couldn't bully though he was taught that his temper scares others so he learned to control his temper.

Genna is too in her own world to bully.

Really in the end I know because I have never had a call from the schools even questioning my kids actions. Well sometimes they are inattentive but never bullies.

I was bullied, I don't wish that on my worst enemy's child. I raised my kids always knowing just how hard it is on the kids being bullied. The older ones were popular kids and they used to power to keep others from being bullied. I know....

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Noun: A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
Verb: Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what O. wants.

Yup, my four year old bullies. She doesn't bully friends (at this point) but she does bully my three year old. The more whole she becomes the less she bullies. So it's getting better.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

No, my oldest is not a bully. He had a few instances last year (1st grade) where he was bullied and did not like it. We talk about it a lot. He's been on the receiving end and says he would never want another to kid to feel the way he has. He has even stuck up for a younger kid being bullied by a kid in his class. I hope that continues.
My youngest....well, he definitely has some attributes that could cause him to lean that way. We work on it with him, a lot! He is 3. He "tries" to bully his brother, that's when we see it, never with another kid (so far!)
We try to teach them to live by the Golden Rule.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I think in the right (wrong) circumstances all kids have the capacity to be a bully. Nobody is perfect and ALWAYS does the right thing. However, I am pretty darn confident that my kids "are not" bullies, meaning that their typical behavior is not that of a bully. O. incidence of manipulation does not MAKE you a Bully. It means you have bullied once, like lying O. time does not make you a "liar" that can be trusted with nothing in any circumstance.

So when you say "is" your child a bully.... The answer is a resounding NO! But have they EVER bullied someone, I can't say. I know for a fact that my son (13, very close to 2nd Don TangSooDo) has DEFENDED a friend against someone trying to bully him, and then turned them all into friends. I know that he has corrected his younger sister (in the back seat of the car in private where the person she was talking about wouldn't have even heard her) that what she was saying was downright mean and that she shouldn't say or think that way.

Is my daughter a bully? No. Does she sometimes say or do something wrong or not nice? Of course, all kids do. Would she ever be O. of those cliquish girls who is mean to the "unpopular" kids? I certainly hope not, and only time will tell. That sort of behavior is certainly frowned upon in our household, AND in her karate class as well.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Interesting question. You see the bullies at recess or parks but it seems the parent of the child is oblivious to their behavior, as I guess they would be. The parents of kids who are more agressive live with the child day in and day out so they get used to how their child behaves and wouldn't see their child as a bully. I don't tolerate bad behavior at my house, no calling names, no hitting, no "just taking", no bad manors when guests are in our home etc.. so I hope I'll never have to admit O. of my kids is the bully.

With that said, my 5 year old plays the victim role TOO much, it's embarassing at times. She believes the world is out to make her miserable and my pep talks aren't getting so "peppy" anymore.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My kid could be if I wasn't on her heals about her attitude checking up at that school on her, the way she cries when someone says boo to her and then she can turn around and boss her sisters around are characteristic of a bully. What do I do as a parent to make sure she does not walk on that path? Teach her sisters how to stand up for themselves when it comes to her and make sure she knows it is consequences to be had if i ever hear of her being a bully and I remind her very often of the time she was bullied and cried like a baby.

Have to add she has never been or displayed violence.
Awsome, awsome question!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Good question, Denise.

I think you can try to make assurances, but the truth is, especially as our kids get older, they build a whole persona for when we are not around. I, as a parent, hope that it is built around what I have taught them and how they see us treat other people that are different, and doesn't stray too far in core values. I will say, God help them if I find out that they are.

I think sometimes, too, it isn't just the parents. We are blessed to live a life that allows us to see a bunch of different places, kinds of people, and ways to live. With kids, fitting in is all important and different is scary, and if kids aren't exposed (not at all anyone's fault) to differences or their world is small, they can tend to pick out and pick on what is unfamiliar. Small worlds don't have to mean small minds but then again, I guess it is up to parents to show their kids that different is OK, so I take that parent part back.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I would say that my son does hurt other kids(and their feelings) but does not have the social skills to understand what he is doing. He has a behavior plan at school and is supposed to be getting extra help as part of his speech therapy.
Four years ago, a girl would kick him during lunch. Three years ago, a boy broke O. of his toys. Two years ago, a classmate would hit him and run away. So now, every time he sees them, thinks about them, or sees another kid who reminds him of them, he tries to hit them or says they're mean and they're his frenemies and he wants to change schools so he doesn't have to be near them. He does not understand that they have moved on and changed and by constantly insulting them, he's now the bully. He has also gotten upset and tried to trip other kids because they did not recycle or tie their shoes when he told them to.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I've seen my kids in action at school and in scouts..when they don't know I'm there and their friends don't either.

No. Not bullies. My boys can be assertive when they want something but they DO NOT say "do this or else" nor do they threaten violence - my oldest is a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and it would go against his teachings to bully...

In fact - my son stood up to a bully...O. the boys in Kindergarten made fun of a girl who had an accident and my son told them to STOP and leave her alone and actually helped her...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My kid can seem like a bully. BEcause he has been bullied.

So his defense's are up constantly...Things are getting better now that he is in Public School. We just could not ''Keep up with the Jone's'' at the private school.

I picked him up Friday and EVERY kid that walked by was saying ''hey Brody, have a good weekend''...even some of the older kids...he had this swagger about himself....HE WAS CONFIDENT FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!

That rocked my mommmy world!! And when he was showing me how he flipped on the monkey bars O. of his friends came up and he was like..''Mom kids were making fun of this guy, and I steeped in and told them they needed to quit''...I was beaming! I gave his friend a HIGH FIVE and realized I was doing good!

I teach my kids tolerance.....That NO O. PERSON. GROUP. Or what ever is better then any O. else. Just because you drive a BMW and have a house that is the size of a small fortress does not make my crappy minivan and O. story shack life less valuable. you dont deserve better because you can out spend me.

Going off on a ramble.

I know my kiddo is not a bully because I am involved in his life. I know his friends. I DO things with him...We talk. ALOT. The communication door is always open and I always listen.

Can I EVER BE SURE? No. But I have faith that I would see the signs. I pay very close attention to moods and behaviors...because that is where you can truly sense stuff is is not always about what they are is what they are not saying you really have to pay attention too:)

I also have a great liner of communication with the teacher. I think that is a relationship that has to be strong. Because they are the eyes and ears to what our kids are doing everyday.

Also If you pay attention to how they interact with neighbor hood kids....siblings....that may give you an eye into what a school day would be like for the.

If they are fighting with kids or picking on them at school...They are more likely to keep that behavior up at home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My oldest is a sensitive soul and so no, he is very gentle and giving. He did slap a kid once, but the kid spit on him and stole something from him, so I don't think that was outright bully behavior. My youngest has hit before, he is only 3 and we always deal with it promptly, he is learning to be less aggressive and is a pretty sensitive guy as well. If i ever hear of either O. being disrespectful in any way, we always deal with it promptly.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

No they are not bullies nor are they bullied.I don't believe in your sentence that a someone HAS to be a bully.We as parents teach them to respect others you don't have to like them or be their friend but kindness goes along ways.We teach them when they go to school to smile say HI my name is & give out your hand for a handshake,they don't always do the handshake but the smiles for them helps them be friendly & it shows others that they are kind since with us adults a smile is a quick hi without being verbal.I also teach them that when they see a child acting out or being disruptive in class that is showing disresepct to the teacher & all the classmates & I disapprove that they become invloved they are to look the other way & let the teacher take control,if it happens on the playground or some where else they are to walk away & get a teacher,parent adult to approach the situation.If something occurs with them they are to be honest to what happened if they are in the wrong they need to apologize.Mine are young children,in the future I don't know what it holds but there is no reason for me not to ever be invloved if I see it happen they better watch out if I hear it I will confront from them about it,all I can do is teach them from right & wrong & hope that they take a lead in being a leader not a follower make the right choices in all you do mistakes happen it is when you don't learn from them that will lead you into trouble.I also will not be mad at them if someone hit them & they went to punch them in the nose as long as they know they were truly defending themself.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Well i know for a fact my kids arent. My oldest is too gentle and empathetic that i worry about her getting bullied.......and my youngest is 2.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Oh, I'm not afraid to say my six year old daughter is a bully, she is bossy when she plays or talks and hits people every once in a while which DOES NOT stand in my houshold...she's been getting better at that but being bossy is just what she does no matter how I go about telling her it's wrong or the punishments I give her.

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