5 Parenting Styles That Contribute to Bullying

Discover how parenting styles can lead to bullying


Dealing with a bullying is never easy, but most parents are able to get through the experience and guide their child in the process. They provide support and help their kids navigate a painful and difficult situation. And in the end, everyone comes out of the situation a little bit stronger and a little bit wiser.

But there are a few parents who do not address bullying situations in a healthy way. As a result, their parenting style can create more issues for the victim of bullying.

Being aware of these styles is especially important to bullying prevention advocates and school administrators.

If you are able to identify these styles at the beginning of the bullying intervention process, you can help guide the parent in how to be more effective in dealing with their child’s bullying experience. Here are five parenting styles that contribute to bullying.

Drama Junkies. These are the parents who thrive on attention that a bullying incident will get for them and their child. Rather than focusing on helping their child overcome bullying, these parents run to social media to post their gripes and share their child’s stories. While they may use the guise of wanting help and input from others, what they are really hoping for is the attention and the drama a bullying incident will generate.

Unfortunately, these types of parents rarely protect their child’s privacy. And they do not do much to help their child navigate the situation.

Instead, their primary response to bullying is to air the story for all to see. They get energy from the drama it creates in their world. But they rarely follow through with any meaningful help.

And their kids become clever. In order to get this parent’s attention, they need something dramatic to happen in their lives.

As a result, their children may actually create bullying situations as a way to get attention from the parent. Or worse yet, they may completely fabricate bullying stories in order to get the attention they crave.

Elitists. These parents believe that their family – specifically their child – is better than everyone else. Whether they have a gifted student, a star athlete or the family is wealthier than most, these parents believe that most others at the school and within the community are beneath them. Other people’s kids are not as smart, as athletic, as worldly or as polished as their kids. Even some church going families will fall into this category because they believe their family is more righteous than others.

The problem with this type of parenting is that it breeds narcissism, mean girl behavior and relational aggression. This parent’s children grow up believing that everyone else is beneath them. And as a result, will treat everyone that way, which results in all types of bullying behavior.

Typically, these types of parents produce bullies. Their kids lack empathy and have a strong sense of entitlement.

Helicopters. Helicopter parents are intent on protecting their child from pain and disappointment. They also don’t want their child exposed to any dangers or risks in the world both real and imagined. As a result, they are involved in every aspect of their child’s life in an overly controlling way.

In other words, they not only help with homework, they sometimes do it for their kids. They also might never allow their teen out of their sight and squash any attempts their child makes to socialize outside of the home. The goal is to control every situation in order to protect their child from harm. And if their child is bullied, they are on top of the situation making decisions on how to keep their teen safe without ever having a conversation with her.

The problem with this type of parenting is that it often backfires and greatly increases the risk that a child will be bullied. The reason is simple. The child is so used to having the parent protect her and fight her battles in other areas, that she has no idea how to take care of herself. In the end, this overprotective parenting has made the child a prime target for bullies. What’s more, when the parent is the one solving all his child’s problems, the child has absolutely no idea how to respond to a bully or defend herself from bullying.

These parents need to focus on how to build self-esteem, resilience and self-advocacy skills in their kids. When they allow their child to make decisions and to fail, they are demonstrating that they believe in her decision-making abilities and that they trust her. Remember, there is nothing wrong with a parent wanting to keep a child safe, but extreme efforts are crippling for the child.

Permissive Parents. These parents are the cool parents in the crowd. They are the parents that allow their kids to have social media at an early age and attend parties long before they are mature enough. Basically, these parents say yes to almost every request their child makes.

And while it is important to allow a child to experience the world around her, parents also need to set age-appropriate boundaries. When parents allow their children too much freedom before they are responsible enough to handle it, the child is more likely to make poor choices. And, some of those poor choices might include abusing social media by cyberbullying others, engaging in sexting or being relationally aggressive. In the end, a child without boundaries will have an “anything goes” attitude and will be more likely to engage in bullying and mean behavior.

Denial Artists. These parents are the first ones usually to tout proudly, my child would never bully But it is never wise to utter those words, even when parents have the utmost confidence in their child. Unfortunately, almost any child is capable of bullying another child, even the good kid. What’s more, if a child is accused of bullying and parents deny it, they are missing out on a valuable teaching lesson. And while the child may never resort to physical bullying, the fact is that a lot bullying stems from being a bully-victim or feeling pressured to follow the crowd and bully. 

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