I see a lot of information about how to help children who are being bullied, but not much at all about how to help a child who has taken on the role of bully! There are a lot of books and resources out there that encourage kids to stick up for themselves, but not much (that I've been able to find) that tells parents how to cope with a child that has finally taken that advice. Perhaps to the extreme.
When my child first started school, she was bullied. As the smallest in her class, this wasn't a surprise. I was bullied for the same reason. So was her father. We knew this would happen (and her brother deals with it, as well, but boys just seem to hash it out and get over it so much more quickly.)
She started at a new school when we moved, and immediately butted heads with the school bully. This girl was MEAN. I would know. I was her Girl Scout leader for two years. This kid intimidated ME! And when I spoke to her mother about it, she laughed and said "Oh that girl, she's such a character." Um....
This year, my daughter ended up with a different group of girls, and after not too long, started coming home with tears in her eyes and stories of a new mean girl. A girl that was formerly her friend. I noticed, for the most part, the bullying stems from jealousy and fighting between the girls over who is whose "BFF". There cannot be a group of three friends. And whenever there IS a group of three friends, a power struggle ensues to decide who will come out as "BFFs" in the end. It sucks. And it's stupid.
So after it became clear that my advice of "Be nice to everyone, and they'll have no reason to be mean to you" was not working, I trekked into the principal's office for a chat.
It turns out....my daughter was the bully! Wow! My meek, shy little thing was the mean girl! I was flabbergasted. The principal acknowledged that it's certainly not a one way street. That it seems to go back and forth between a bunch of them, and none of them are innocent. But when I heard that a mother had actually come into the school crying, and freaking out at a teacher over my daughter bullying her daughter, I was mortified. And confused. And...lost. What to do now? My daughter has become the mean girl. Years and years of telling her to stick up for herself caused her to just...snap... and stick up for herself. But not in a good way. To her, sticking up for herself meant putting others down. To her, sticking up for herself meant mimicking what the other bullies had put her through. It's the only way she knew how to deal with it.
So...where to go, now? I have a pep talk with her every morning about being nice, and treating others the way she wants to be treated. But I'm not convinced it's working. And I'm not convinced I can even trust her when she comes home and tells me that SHE'S being bullied, because she has already lied to me about it, this year.
I'm subbing, and am interested to see if there are any resources or help for familys on the OTHER side of the coin. Bullies need help, too. Or they can't change.