1. Respect their mistakes Don’t blame or shame kids for messing up, says Debra Pepler, a psychology professor at York University. Instead, take the chance to teach them a better way of coping.
2. Teach calm Show kids how to take a few deep breaths or count to 10 when they’re feeling frustrated, says Pepler.
3. Find the good Recognizing and rewarding kids for positive behaviour helps reinforce good conduct, says psychologist Joanne Cummings. If they’ve done something well, commend them and offer an extra book at bedtime or another reward.
4. Monitor media violence Cummings says parents should keep a close eye on what types of video games and TV shows their kids watch, and talk to them about the difference between the imaginary world they see on the screen and the real world.
5. Be a good role model Be kind and caring. Avoid gossiping and talk to your kids and others with respect, suggests Pepler. If you lose your temper, apologize.
6. Teach empathy Help kids think about others by discussing what the characters in books and movies might be feeling, says Pepler.
7. Check their friends If your kid’s friends aren’t bringing out the best in her, help her branch out. Sign her up for a class outside school. Choose something she enjoys to help her gain self-confidence as well as new pals.
8. Volunteer Helping others is an easy way to feel powerful in a positive way, says Pepler. Encourage your child to play with younger kids, help at a retirement home or tidy the classroom.
9. Be patient Things don’t change overnight, especially if your child’s behaviour has been ongoing. Focus on one problem at a time.
10. Get help If your child continues to act aggressively at home, at school and in public, you may need outside help. Speak with your doctor or a psychologist.
A version of this article appeared in our July/August 2015 issue with the headline, "When your kid's the bully," p.61-64.
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