5 Signs Your Teen Is a Bully

How to take an honest look at your teen’s behavior


If you are like most parents, you are always on the look out for bullies. But the problem is that you are always looking at other teens instead of taking a closer look at your own teen’s behavior. In fact, most parents are caught by surprise when the principal calls and informs them that their child has been bullying others at school.

Do not fall into the trap of saying or believing, “my child would never bully,” because quite honestly any child is capable of bullying.

Even the kids with solid parents might engage in mean behavior from time to time. So to avoid being blindsided by the news that your child is a bully, look for these five signs that your child could potentially be bullying others.

Hanging out with the wrong crowd. Many times bullies and mean girls are cultivated because of group dynamics and cliques. What’s more, many kids bully others out of fear that if they don’t, they could become the next target. Additionally, some kids succumb to peer pressure and engage in bullying others because the group is doing it and they want to fit in.

As a result, if you have questions or concerns about your teen’s friends, do not try to look the other way. When teens are being influenced by a group of friends, it is time to have a conversation with your teen about making good choices, including choices in friends. You also may want to take steps to help your teen develop friendships with others who have similar interests.

Obsessing over popularity. If your child is fixated on being popular, that is a huge red flag. Bullying often stems from trying to climb the social ladder. And often kids will do just about anything to get to the top, even if it means spreading rumors or gossiping about others to get there.

Kids who are obsessed with social status also tend to ostracize others that might tarnish their image in some way.

They also have a tendency to become fake friends rather than developing healthy relationships with others. If your child is struggling to be a good friend, this could be a sign that she is on the verge of becoming a bully. It is time to have a heart to heart conversation about how to be a good friend. It also is a good time to remind her about the pitfalls of popularity.

Spending hours on social media. While no good can come from countless hours on social media, if you notice your child is constantly texting, checking Instagram or posting selfies, it is time to dig a little deeper. One of several things could be going on.

First, your child may be obsessed over how many likes she is getting on her posts. Or, she might be experiencing some sort of drama among friends. Second, she could be engaging in cyberbullying. Kids who spend a lot of time on social media will sometimes create drama or target others by cyberbullying.

While there are a number of reasons your child might be cyberbullying, you need to get to the root of the matter right away. Cyberbullying is a very serious issue than can quickly get out of control. Not only could your child also become a target, but she also could get herself into some legal trouble if she is threatening someone or posting inappropriate pictures of others.

Be sure to keep tabs on your child’s social media use. Too much social media can harm your teen in more ways than one.

Obsessing over their image. From clothes to friends, your teen may be very selective about what she wears and whom she spends time with. While these tendencies do not always signal bullying, there is a good chance it could be an issue if your child is obsessing over her image because she is concerned about what others will think.

For instance, if your teen refuses to be seen with her younger sister or will not reach out to others who might be alone or isolated, this could be a sign that your child lacks empathy.

Lacking empathy, is often a precursor to bullying. Likewise, being ungrateful also can lead to bullying behavior. So if you regularly notice that your child is never satisfied with the clothes she has, the house she lives in or the car you drive, then it is time to take a closer looker.

While the presence of these characteristics does not automatically mean your child is bullying others, they are still issues that you need to address. Be sure to work with your teen to become more empathetic by encouraging service work. Additionally, work on fostering a sense of gratitude in her life. Even if she is not bullying others, these are important life skills your teen needs.

Struggling with behavior issues. If your child struggles with anger and impulsiveness or becomes easily frustrated, it is important for you to recognize that there is a very real possibility that your child could be bullying others. And, even if your child has special needs or learning disabilities, this does not make it acceptable for him to bully other children.

Be sure you are working with your child to manage his anger and control his impulsiveness. Yes, it can be draining and a lot of work but in the end, your teen will benefit tremendously from knowing how to take control of his emotions. What’s more, you also will prevent him from bullying others. And, it also could prevent him from being a target for bullying if he has some tools to effectively deal with his impulses when they crop up.

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