Bullying Within the Family

Written by BKO Founder Dana Jacoviello

Is my child a bully? Am I a bully? Why is my child a bully? Is it my fault my child is being bullied? Do I communicate enough with my child? Is something going on in our home we don’t know about? These are a few questions most parents ask themselves when they realize they have a child that might be a bully or who is being bullied. Why would this be the case? Well, I believe bullying often stems from the home or a child’s microsystem. Their microsystem usually consists of family, friends, teammates (if they are involved with sports or any other groups), and schoolmates. They are the closest people to them that they spend most of their time with at a young age until their world expands. A child does not just decide to be a bully or is born a bully. Something or someone is influencing this child. The job of the parents and even the school is to find out why. I understand the schools might feel this is not their job; however, if the child is doing the bullying in school, then guess what…the school can’t just ignore the problem! This is why we are reading about children and teens taking their lives or changing schools so much. Everybody needs to work together rather than playing the blame game or who should do what. The goal is to help the child.

A child spends the majority of their time in school. The schools don’t feel responsible and the parents don’t feel responsible to an extent because they are not in school with them. I am not saying this is all schools or all parents, but somebody needs to take responsibility for these children and communicate with them. This responsiblity should be shared to lay out an effective plan. I believe in working together. Something needs to be done rather than sweeping it under the rug and hoping it will go away. This brings me to my point which is bullying within the family. I truly feel that most don’t see it as bullying because it is family. Does that mean family can treat each other disrespectfully or horribly? It is not much different from abuse. In fact, it can be a form of abuse. Who bullies a child? Family or not, it does not mean you can disintegrate a child, a teen, or even another adult down to dust.

Often siblings might be a bully and we chalk it up to sibling rivalry or normal sibling behavior, but it is not normal behavior when it hits certain heights. Siblings who bully will often torture physically, verbally, and emotionally just as any bully does. When this happens repeatedly in and out of the household to the point that it affects the child in other ways, it needs to be taken much more serious. There is a major difference between sibling disagreements and arguments.

If it is not siblings, it can often be found happening by their very own parents, which is also NOT ACCEPTABLE. Bullying is unacceptable in any form by anybody; however, when it happens in the home, it is even more devastating. A child looks to family and loved ones for compassion, understanding, love, and acceptance. When they do not find in within their own home, they tend to act out and take it out on others around them such as their friends or other kids they do not know. They hold a great deal of anger and resentment because they feel they can’t say anything or they might get in more trouble or punished.

Parents need to constantly communicate with their children about their lives, what goes on in school, and who they hang around with. When it is happening between siblings, it needs immediate attention. If you suspect your child is a bully or one child is bullying the other child, ask questions, take them to counseling, get involved, or do some type of mediation. If the parents are to blame, they usually do not even realize they are doing it. We all have to be mindful of the words we use and how we come across to our children.

When you are consistently on them about every little thing and belittle them, you are taking away their self-esteem and confidence. You take away their innocence, which is why they turn into what they despise at home. This is the only way they know how to deal with it. We must be gentle and kind, especially with children.

Simple Facts:

  • A parent should not expect perfectionism out of their child.
  • A parent should not set impossible expectations for a child.
  • A parent should never make fun of them or laugh at them in a negative way.
  • A parent should never blame their child for their mistakes or past
  • A parent should never try to live through their children
  • A parent should never take their anger out on their child
  • A parent should never expect their child to take care of them because they can’t handle their life or schedule
  • A parent should always appreciate the love and loyalty a child gives freely and return it
  • A parent should always appreciate that they have a child when some can’t
  • When a parent knows their child is bullying another one of their children, it is their job to handle the situation and end it.

It is heartbreaking when a parent is the one behind the bullying because of how they treat their child or due to what they put their child through. All that built up frustration comes out in the form of bullying.

Think before you speak. Think before you act. Think before you judge. Think before you accuse. Listen before you talk. Talk before you yell.

Be gentle with your words.

Be kind. Love big!



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