The Bullycoach Newsletter: For Parents: March, 2008

Trust the site for all the bullying information you’ll ever need.

In this newsletter…

The Bully, Victim and Parent roles in Modeling Bullying Behavior

Welcome: This free newsletter is being sent to anyone who registered at one of my presentations or at my website at This newsletter provides specific, helpful and insightful information for all parents of school-aged children or educators who deal with bullying issues either as a bully, victim or bystander. If you do not want to receive this newsletter, please send a reply email and state “Unsubscribe” on the subject line. You may also order my new book: Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting and Bullying for Good, released by Penguin/Perigee in 2007 at or, or of course,

“I don’t understand why my child is aggressive and bullying others at school?”

Q: Do Parents influence whether children become bullies?

A: How bullying behavior develops is a complicated issue because of the multitude of factors that can contribute to its development. The media, cultural issues, temperament, as well as genetic influences probably play a role. However, parent styles and what parents’ model at home has a lot to do with the messages that children receive from adults. I often ask parents how conflict with their spouse is experienced by their children. Does one parent always win and does one parent always lose a battle? Does one parent always win by using strong authoritarian strategies? Children observe the way their parents fight, and will either identify with the winner or the loser. An aggressive child may see that winning through aggression will eventually get you what you want, whereas a child who may be passive may be intimidated and frightened by this aggression. This child may run away from aggression and identify with empathy, concern and compassion to the parent who is on the losing end of the conflict.

Q: Are there any parent styles that contribute to bullying in addition to how conflict is seen?

A: Parenting styles have much to do with how your child “learns to bully”. Parents who have very strict boundaries, and do not leave a lot of room for children to be themselves may encourage a child to get angry and rebel at different places outside of the home. These parents may not allow for children to develop caring and empathetic responses, which can further contribute to bullying behavior. These children may lack remorse for being aggressive because they experience this as normal behavior. Unfortunately, the combination of aggression and a lack of empathy can all be part of bullying.

Q: What other ways may I be contributing to my child’s development of bullying behavior?

A: Identifying our own parent styles and the way that we may be modeling bullying behavior in ourselves is the first step to changing this. Think about the hidden messages we give our children when we in our own lives as adults, gossip, talk badly about others, or exclude friends, neighbors or family. Children see what we do, and pay attention to actions more than they listen to messages that do not match our behavior. If we are guilty of providing examples of bad behavior to our children, be aware of it, and take responsibility for this even in front of our children. It is okay for our children to see that we make mistakes, and that we can change our behavior.

Q: If my child is bullying someone, how can I address this with them?

A: If your child is bullying someone, it is important for them to know that you do not approve of it. Your child may be full of excuses and denials that they were not responsible for any bullying. However, this misses the point. You as the parent cannot tolerate any bullying behavior, and you must let your child know that this is unacceptable. Try to create a sense of empathy. Ask your child “If you were the one who was bullied, how would you feel?” This encourages your child to step out of the aggressive role into the shoes of the victim. You should try to let them know that no one deserves to be treated this way. Parents have to try to not be angry when they talk about bullying behavior or they miss a “teachable moment” with their children. Showing your kids that you care about how they treat others, is much more potent than being angry when they misbehave. Try to think about how you would like an adult to speak with you if they were trying to get you to see a behavior that was difficult to understand. Patience, kindness and encouragement go further than criticism.

Q: What if the school contacts me about bullying behavior by child?

A: I am asked this question so often because parents do not know how to respond to a suggestion of bullying about their child from the school. True “bully parents” deny, minimize and rationalize their child’s behavior away, and may attack the school for making an accusation. Of course, these parents may lack empathy themselves. However, if you can listen, be respectful, and hear what the school has to say you have a chance to better the situation. Talk to your child about bullying behavior in a non-threatening way which creates a chance to help your child learn from their behavior and make a change in a positive direction.

Please send in your questions so I can answer them in these upcoming months. I look forward to hearing from you!

Please check my website at for new information on bullying and for individual coaching services that I provide to help you get results with your bully problem. You can email me at with any bully issues you may have.


Joel D. Haber, Ph.D.

“The Bully Coach”

297 Knollwood Road

White Plains, NY 10607

(914) 428-0004, ext. 23


One Response to “”

  1. James Webber Says:

    Hi Lisa by the way the wiki is (wetpaints) and ive signed in
    but not added anyone/or much yet …
    no suprise there then!! especially after yesterdays lesson
    and last few weeks riduculous

    Thanks! for your comment- interested what you said
    so i feel i have little or no help in my school and for/ to think other places at least in UK, with league tables – academies in place in High schools
    prus (pupil referal units)… so how is the foreigner or native speaker
    suppose to pick up the threads and assist the kids. in the first place with a teacher whos both inadequate within his/her teaching and speaking a fair standard of english??

    and some TEACHERS now or wwere looked at upon with pay (performance) related pay – its really a sad ( for me)
    and very awkward situation being…an individual native English speaker (with teaching exp at home, but not qualified)
    IF you have any advice following your comment on bulllying let me know
    also ive had some info/advice from somone else on here

    Jim posted 8.04.08

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: