Do not collude. There’s never an excuse for bullying and your child needs to know that your sympathies lie with the victim.
Bullying thrives on silence. It takes an honest parent to admit that their child has done something so nasty. If told your child is bullying, try not to go for instant denial, but investigate instead.
Bullying can be learned, so do a little detective work. Have they seen other children act like this or witnessed domestic bullying? Physical violence apart, there are other types of bullying, such as shouting over people or using sulky silences. If this is part of your home life, consider family counselling if you can’t change it alone.
Ask your child how they’d feel if someone bullied them and they were scared to go to school. An awareness of the fear they’ve caused should hopefully make them want to put it right.
A face-to-face apology can help, as can encouraging the children involved to chat without parents directing the conversation. This gives the child who was bullied some control over the situation, and potentially relief that reporting it helped rather than made it worse. Other parents will also feel that you’re taking this seriously.
If you’re punishing your child, withdraw a treat for a specific time but also suggest they make up for what they’ve done. The reputation of being a bully can linger. Help your child learn the benefits of being kind and fair instead and, since they’ve said sorry, you can now support them all the way.