Cyberbullying 2021: What To Do When Your Child Is the Bully



  • Parents need to learn to recognize the signs that their child is bullying. They aren’t always obvious. 
  • All children need to talk about bullying with their parents.
  • Parents should treat their children with kindness and respect and model kindness and respect for others.
  • Good behavior should be reinforced and encouraged.
  • Parents can learn a lot by keeping an eye on their child’s social life and online activities.

Bullied or Bullying? 

No one wants their child to be bullied at school, out in the world, or online. If there’s anything as upsetting as finding out your child is being bullied, it’s finding out that your child is the bully. And often, that’s something that parents don’t think of. It’s hard to picture your own child choosing to hurt another child that way. 

But the reality is that where there are bullied children, there are bullies, and those children need help as well. Take a look at how parents can recognize the signs that their child is the bully and what to do about that realization. 

How Do You Know Your Child is a Bully?

In today’s world, cyberbullying is not just its own thing; it can be a component of other types of bullying as well. So, looking for signs of cyberbullying can be a good way to find out whether or not your child is behaving like a bully. Some of the signs of cyberbullying include:

  • Refusing to discuss computer and cell phone activities
  • Using many different accounts online
  • Excessively using the computer or cell phone
  • Becoming very upset when cell or computer use is restricted
  • Covering or switching the screen when you walk near the computer or phone while they’re using it

Other signs that your child might be bullying in general, on- or offline, include:

  • A lack of empathy
  • A need for control
  • Refusal to take responsibility for their actions
  • Excessive arrogance
  • A history of being bullied
  • A desire to be popular

Parents may be surprised to learn that a child who has been bullied in the past is currently bullying other children, but this kind of crossover isn’t uncommon. Sometimes children who have been bullied in the past cope with their feelings by turning the experience around and becoming the bully instead. 

Talking About Bullying

Whether you think your child is a bully or not, a talk about bullying is warranted. (See the video below). The chances are good that somewhere along the way, your child will either participate in, experience, or witness bullying, so all children need to talk about it. 

It’s important to take bullying seriously when you talk to your child. Don’t underplay it. Children who are prone to bullying need to know that it’s a serious issue and that it will be treated seriously at home as well as at school.

Actively Teach and Model Kindness and Respect

Teen looking upset.
Show by your behavior that unkind words and disrespectful actions aren’t OK with you.

First of all, the old adage is correct; children learn what they live. Parents need to model anti-bullying behavior. If you behave in bullying ways with your children at home, or if they see you harassing people in your life like service workers, household staff, or family members, they’re likely to repeat that behavior in their own lives. 

Model kindness to others and tolerance and acceptance of those who are different from you and your family. Discuss these values with your child as well. Modeling is important, but you can’t assume that all of your values will transfer to your child without discussing them. Make sure that your child knows how important it is to treat others the way they’d like to be treated in every situation.

Reinforce Good Behavior

It’s natural and normal for kids to want attention. But it’s important to make sure that they’re getting attention for the right things. If your child thinks that you don’t notice or care when they behave well, they may begin behaving badly just to get noticed. 

Make it a point to “catch” your kid doing nice things for others, reaching out to children who are different from them, and being kind whenever the opportunity arises. This easily teaches them that these behaviors are worthy of being rewarded. 

Keep an Eye on Your Child’s Activity and Social Life

Child standing in front of classroom appearing upset.
Find out what’s happening in your child’s school and with their peers.

The things that your child does can tell you a lot about what’s going on with their lives. Take a look at who their friends are, and when you get a chance, watch how your child interacts with other children. Do they treat each other as equals, or does one child seem to be “in charge”? Is your child bossy or a “queen bee”? That could be a warning sign. 

When your child has parent/teacher nights or other school activities, take a minute to talk to the teachers and guidance counselors. Make it a point to talk to other parents when you get a chance as well. Ask if bullying is a problem at your child’s school. What have the teachers seen? What have other parents heard? You don’t want to immediately act on anything that comes through the PTA rumor mill, but you shouldn’t ignore information gathered this way either. Use it to dig deeper. 

And of course, monitoring your child’s cell phone and internet usage can tell you a lot about their activities and interactions. You can set your parental monitoring software to alert you when certain words or phrases are used, or when pictures and videos are shared. It can also let you know who your child is texting, calling, and IMing and what social media sites and forums they’re visiting. 

You don’t have to spy on their every activity, but you can get an overview that will alert you if your child is behaving badly. 

WebWatcher can help parents keep an eye on their children’s behavior online and get an idea of what’s happening offline. To find out how parental monitoring software can help to combat cyberbullying, get our free trial.