Teaching Your Child Friendship and Interpersonal Skills
If your child is bullying other kids, he should be coached in the areas of self-worth and proper social interaction. He may be bullying because he doesn't know how to assert himself in a nonaggressive manner. He may be uncomfortable socializing with his peers, and may act out in order to get attention and gain approval. Or your child may have difficulty handling confrontation and resolving conflicts. These things are not excuses for your child's behavior, they are merely possible explanations for why your child bullied.
If you look closely at your child's friendships, you may be surprised to discover that most of the kids he considers friends are actually no more than acquaintances. Put the friendships under a microscope and you might find that some of your child's friends hang out with him to avoid being the next target of his bullying. Other kids will avoid being near your child altogether.
This means that your child doesn't really have any close friends; there are kids who avoid him and there are kids who do as he says out of fear and self-preservation.
After you halt the bullying behavior, you should focus on teaching your child how to be a good friend. The same advice is appropriate for both victims and bullies. In addition, you can share with him these tips for fostering new friendships:
Treat a friend the way you want to be treated.
Show support and stick up for your friends.
Be truthful but not unkind.
If you hurt a friend's feelings, apologize.
Accept your friend for who he is; don't try to change him.
If you make a promise to a friend, keep it.
Appreciate your friends.
When your child forms close and lasting friendships, he will hone and develop his social skills. If your child improves his social skills, he will have a broader number of successful strategies to use in difficult or challenging social situations. You don't want your child to fall back on his prior bullying behavior or to continue to bully simply because it is a habit. You want your child to have a number of positive, prosocial options to draw upon.