What do you do if your teen is the bully?

Bullying occurs when someone intentionally frightens or harms another person -- physically, verbally or emotionally. Often, teens who bully lack self esteem, have their own unresolved emotional issues or have been bullied themselves. Although children who bully take pleasure in having control over others, they have a greater difficulty fitting in with their peers socially and maintaining positive relationships. Therefore, if you notice that your teen is bullying other children, try to understand why he's acting in such a manner and take steps to rectify his behavior immediately, making it clear that such behavior is unacceptable.

Indications of bullying include regularly calling others names, showing a lack of empathy, displaying a hostile attitude and always trying to get your way. Notice who your teen's friends are and monitor how they spend their free time. Bullies often hang out with weaker, younger kids whom they can easily frighten. On the other hand, some teens get involved with a rowdy, hooligan crowd without realizing that the teasing they do is actually bullying, or they mimic aggressive actions they see at home or in the movies, thinking it's just funny.

The first step to take when you suspect your child is bullying is to talk to the school staff and find out information about your child's behavior. Then talk to your teen about the gravity of his behavior when both you and he are calm and attentive. Establish clear rules against bullying and enforce them if he disobeys. Spend quality time with your child to foster a positive relationship, building up his self esteem. Involve your teen in social, nonviolent activities where he could have positive experiences and make new friends. Finally, if you feel that you child needs additional assistance, don't hesitate to contact a mental health professional to help you and your teen resolve the problem.