Three Signs Your Child May be a Bully

By Madison Rodriguez


Society has a pre-conceived notion about what bullies and their lives look like.  We are often told that bullies only come from a neglected household with aggressive or unstable parents.  In reality, this is rarely the case.  Tendencies or behaviors that are associated with bullying can be picked up from anywhere, and having a child who exhibits some of those behaviors can happen to even the best of parents.  Now that we have this common misconception de-bunked, here are some signs that your child may display some habits that are linked to bullying.

  1. They Lack Empathy- Children who bully their peers often have trouble seeing a situation from a perspective that is not their own.  Maybe your kiddo unconsciously forgets to consider the feelings of others.  If you feel that your child might have trouble with this social skill, consider finding a book with a theme that reflects the power or importance of empathy.  You could also take them for a day of philanthropy that focuses on those that are less fortunate.  Both activities will help your child see and feel empathy.
  2. They Are Worried About Popularity- Bullying often stems from wanting to feel included.  If your child feels insecure or worried about fitting in with a certain group of children, they may exclude others to include themselves with a “popular group.”  If you observe your child obsessing over popularity, the best way to end the problem is having open communication with your child.  Ask them why they want to fit in with these specific kids and offer ideas to include other kids not already in the group.

3. They Are Easily Frustrated or Aggressive- Does your child lash out when the outcome of a situation does not turn out the way they anticipated or wanted?  Do they respond to disappointing situations with intense anger and/or a raised voice?  These two reactions may be indicative of a bullying issue.  If this might be your child, you can remind them that it is unsatisfactory behavior.  If this behavior continues after the warning, you may offer consequences.

The three signs above are characteristics of children who bully.  While the tips above are a great starting point for ending these behaviors, bullying is often a sign of a deeper issue.  If open communication does not end bullying tendencies for your child, we encourage you to contact a mental health professional or talk to your pediatrician about other referrals.