What To Do When Your Kid Is the Bully: How to Help Your Child

No parent wants to find out their child is being a bully. We parents spend so much time taking care of our children and trying to teach them right from wrong, and it can be painful to think of your child causing harm to other children. But bullying is also a serious issue for the bully themselves. Bullying may be an indicator that your child is dealing with anxiety or depression, or is having difficulty regulating their emotions and behavior. 

Why Do Kids Bully?

Children who are bullying are not necessarily just bad kids. There are many reasons why your child may be acting out in this way. Perhaps they are experiencing bullying themselves at school, and are trying to regain some control by lashing out at other kids. Maybe they are engaging in group bullying because they are trying to fit in with a group of friends, and they would rather single out another classmate rather than be singled out themselves. They could be using bullying as a way to get attention from teachers or their parents. They could also be lacking in the emotional intelligence skills that tell them how their actions or words are negatively affecting others. 

Whatever the reason may be, it is important to talk to your child if their bullying behavior has been brought to your attention. By talking with your child about it, you can begin to understand what is going on from their point of view. Conversations can help your child understand appropriate friendships behaviors and you can address any issues that may have led to the bullying behaviors in the first place. 

Helping Your Child 

Why talking to your child about bullying it is important to be direct. Explain to them what you have been seeing or the behaviors that have been brought to your attention. The conversation is not about pointing out all of their mistakes or faults, but rather a discussion around, “I see this happening with you and I’d like to understand why”. If a child feels like they are being attacked, they will likely shut down or lash out. Neither of these options is helpful for addressing the issue or moving forward. See if your child can articulate what their motivation is when they bully someone. Can they say if they’re feeling scared, or angry, or anxious? Give them some space to process and talk through these emotions, as they may not even realize that these are the root of the behaviors. In talking, maybe your child will begin to realize that when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed at school, they lash out at classmates because it helps them release some of those feelings. You can then talk to them about different ways to deal with those emotions as they come up. 

In developing healthy coping mechanisms, you can have your child think through different scenarios and how they could react in a healthier way. Help them think of ways that they could be a better friend. For example, if your child is feeling angry during the day because they were having difficulty in class, instead of yelling at a friend, can they try some relaxation or breathing exercises to release some of those negative feelings. Encourage your child to see things from the perspective of the person they have been bullying. Asking questions like, “Can you think of a time when you were excluded from an activity your friends were doing? How did that make you feel?” can help your child begin to develop empathy and emotional intelligence. 

Trails Carolina Can Help

Spending time in the wilderness provides an ideal setting for reflection, free from the distractions and influences of everyday life. Wilderness therapy is an excellent catalyst for behavioral change.

At Trails Carolina, we combine this therapeutic environment with research-based clinical expertise, allowing our staff to meet the unique developmental and psychological needs of each student under their care. For more information please call (828) 604-6639.

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: https://trailscarolina.com/common-ground-podcast/ With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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