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Poor Social Skills Can Lead to Bullying

Children with learning differences may have problems socially (see Kids Who Do Poorly in School More Likely to Become Bullies).

According to the Pacer Center, "children who bully suffer as much as those they target. They are significantly more likely than others to lead lives marked by school failure, depression, violence, crime, and other problems... Bullying is too important to ignore."

Children who are bullies are often quick to blame others and cannot accept responsibility for their own actions. They do not show empathy or compassion for others and often are immature socially. Oddly enough, they are often bullied by someone else. Sometimes bullies come from families where there are older siblings who bully them or the parents have a bullying style for managing behavior, making the child feel it is him that is unacceptable instead of his behavior.

Children who bully others may not be aware that they are being a bully. There are ways parents and teachers can help. The Pacer Center and other experts recommend:

  • Talk to your child about why he or she is bullying other children. Explain to them that bullying behavior is not acceptable and that you will help them learn how they should behave. Your child’s teacher may be able to give you specific examples of when their behavior is out of line. This can help you in teaching your child what to do in the various situations that cause him or her problems.
  • Role play with your child can help them learn what it feels like to be bullied. Be careful that your child understands what role playing is. You can take turns playing the role of the bully. Role plays should include demonstrating ways to deal with social situations positively instead of resorting to intimidating others.
  • Teach children how to name their emotions and express their frustrations appropriately. Some who bully may not be aware of their own emotions nor understand how their actions are affecting others. According to Michael Thompson, an expert on boys, this is especially true of boys because they often cannot describe their emotions.
  • Provide professional help if needed so your child can learn better social skills. They need to learn how to disagree with someone without being mean. They also need to learn how to choose and make the right kind of friends.
  • Be aware that children do what they see adults they care about do. If your child is a witness to bullying behavior at home, he or she will be more likely to bully others.

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