Parents Break Down The Exact Moment They Discovered Their Kid Was A Bully And How They Responded

It all starts at home.

A bully doesn't just magically happen. Bullies are molded. Sometimes they become who they are through violence or it's neglect. Hurt people hurt people. We know this all too well. So that is why when we recognize the signs in young children, we have to squelch it before it's too late. That is a difficult thing for a parent to recognize. But it would do the world a great service if parents stepped up and parented their unruly seed.

Redditor u/Swallowingwallowing wanted parents out there to discuss with the rest us, and hopefully offer some relief in the future of creating better adults by asking them to reveal. Parents of bullies, when did you realize your child was a bully and how did you react?

Nasty Girl

frustrated ugh GIF by Equipe de France de FootballGiphy

i lived next door to my younger sister's bully. We were constantly going over there to tell the mother "Hey, your kid hit my sister today" or "Hey, your kid bit my sister" and the girls were about 9/10 so she knew better.

The mother denied that her precious pet could do anything like that, a few days later the mother and the kid were at school and I was dropping my sister off, the bully girl walked up to a random younger kid and sucker punched her in the face, about 20 other adults saw, instead of disciplining her kid she started yelling at the kid she punched, calling this poor 9 year old a sl*t, a wh*re and a b***h then raised her hand to hit her, but when another couple of parents started yelling at her and pushing her away this grown ass 35 year old started crying her eyes out that people were calling her out on her bull.

It was a real eye opener that the kids probably pick up their abusive behavior from somewhere.

As it turns out the Mother was a complete psycho and regularly lost and gained custody of her kids because of her behavior, she goes through boyfriends like they're going out of fashion, hit one of them around the head with a rolling pin and cause crap wherever they go, the definition of a Karen, and upon knowing who the Mother's parents are, it's a family thing for sure.


A Fixable Problem

we take care of our girl relative as often as we can (she has her own family, we're just close)

She's 8 now and started bullying when she started school because she thinks she's "dominant".

Underlying reasons are mainly rooted in the household and environment: how she's being treated (mostly by adults), how people react to her actions, how she's being reprimanded, methods (and how often) she's disciplined, who she's surrounded by, etc.

Still hard to fix right now, but best method: keep calm and explain to the child. Cause-effect, consequences, the feelings and situation of the victim, etc. Remember that you're dealing with a kid, don't just scold them and expect em to see at your level of maturity and understanding. Explain, talk it out. Their stubbornness will get in the way, but stay firm and ease your way into their trust and comfort. Child Psychology, learn it.

She's not intentionally bad... Just that her jokes come off as sarcasm at such a young age, to the point of insult sometimes. We found out from her teachers and classmates. Problem: her household doesn't see this as an issue to address and actually celebrates her cleverness. But even when they do, their way of discipline obviously apparently doesn't work.


"i thought it was a brownie"

My parents thought i was a bully, i bit a kid in preschool cuz he had a huge brown freckle on his arm. Im talking 1.5 inch (38mm) diameter large. Parents took me to the kids house to apologize and help the other parents know why i did it. Literally told them "i thought it was a brownie" and i literally thought it was. So i wasn't truly a bully but more of a complete moron but for a few days 2 sets of parents believed i was the anti christ at 4 years old.


In elementary school

I was acquainted with a bully early on in elementary school. The way too aggressive type. I remember my other friends and I incidentally had similar stories of the bully trying to drown us in the local pool. He would punch kids all the time for no reason, and was extremely defensive, and mentally weak - even for an 8 year old. Despite it all, his parents were very nice, but spoiled him a fair amount. One day, on the first day of school that year, he was gone and nobody knew what happened. We assumed he moved away until 6 years later.

My friends and I were all playing soccer at the park across from the bully's house when suddenly we all spotted the bully atop his backyard play structure, fighting a younger man with a toy lightsaber. We all then came to the consensus that he had been sheltered for the past 6 years and most likely never left the house. Which I guess is one way to deal with a bully.


Sorry Matt....

tug of war hello GIF by Paul McCartneyGiphy

Not a parent yet, but I took a dip into bullying for a bit.

For the most part, I was the one everyone picked on (for no real reason other than I behaved differently than pretty much everyone else). I was near the bottom of the totem pole, but they considered one lower than me. A rather plump kid by the name of Matt. I saw the other kids bullying him and making fun of him. I was feeling bitter that day and said something about him when his back was turned. The popular kids loved it.

For a week or two, I continued seeking this praise. The praise of being an @sshole. I don't remember the exact turning point, but one day I reflected upon myself. I thought "what am I doing?"

Eventually, I started seeking amends with him. He was very forgiving once I apologized, and we even became friends for the next few years. We ended up going to different high schools, but we even ran into each other when I went to a choir contest his school was hosting. We talked for hours. I'm glad I stopped when I did, because at the end of the day, an oversized belly is worlds better than an oversized ego any day.


The Bad Clique

My kid is fairly popular, more than I ever was, and I'm ashamed to admit I was conflicted when I learned from their school that they're part of a clique that bullies others.

My first thought should've been disappointment, but instead it was "I'm glad he doesn't have to put up with bullying like I had to as a kid." It was an instinctual response that borders on tribalism, i.e. I'd rather have my kid be a popular bully than be an unpopular victim.

But afterwards I approached it logically and sat him down, shared with him my experiences during school and how bullies nearly ruined my childhood. My kid respects me and hasn't seen me that vulnerable before, so it ended up making an impact. I'm sure though as long as he sticks with that same social circle he will still be in situations where he looks the other way on bullying. I can only continue to try and guide him to the best of my ability.


It was me....

I am a parent but of only a 4 year old. But I was a huge bully in high school and I'm such an idiot it never even dawned on me until I was like maybe 21-22. I did horrible stuff just for laughs. But I made it a priority to personally apologize to everyone formally and in person since then. It's one of my highest priorities as a father to ensure my son embraces everyone as a friend when he gets older.


She also whooped me.

I was a bully in middle school and high school and was bullied as well. I never saw myself as a bully because I was constantly picked on and made fun of and didn't realize how many people's feelings I was hurting.

It honestly took a trip to the office freshman year for me to come face to face with the fact that I was making other people feel bad about themselves.

My mom sat me down and reminded me of my insecurities and how I used to come home and cry. She told me if I wanted to make other people hate me like I hated my bullies, then I should keep on doing what I'm doing.

She also whooped me. I made reparations and try to be better than I am. I have a tough mom.


She is who she is....

It Is What It Is Dont Care GIF by AwesomenessTVGiphy

My parents realized my youngest sister was a bully when she was like 6 and now she's 16 and they still haven't done anything about it.


Time Out Son. 

Not so much bullying, but being abrasive in online gaming chats. With everything locked down I've been (very happily!) able to spend more time with both of my Sons. My youngest, 15, is very competitive when it comes to online gaming. Currently Rocket League, but it's been Fortnite etc in the past. So I'm at my desk and he's at his and I hear some fairly toxic stuff that he's saying to team mates one night. I told him game time was over, shut it down.

Proceeded to have a front porch talk about what being a good team mate is all about and how supporting the team was always a better idea than dragging people down or making them ashamed. He was pretty responsive, logged back into discord and apologized to the guys/gals he'd been teamed with and we haven't had an incident since then. I'm very proud of him, if you can't tell.


Garfield the Cat....


Several answers here are along the lines of "one of the things that makes a bully is lack of attention". My parents love me more than life itself, and yet I was still a bully in my elementary years. I couldn't tell you why exactly, other than just saying 'autism', which is no excuse. My parents did not allow the teachers to use that as an excuse, and made sure I was appropriately punished. And I am so grateful for that.

Anyway, most autistic children have the one thing they obsess over. For me, it was Garfield the cat. Every phone call from the principal, one Garfield thing was taken away, and it broke my parent's hearts, but it worked.

Edit: I consulted my mother to see if she had any insight as to the reason. Best guess is lack of regard for other people's feelings.

Edit 2: please stop recommending r/Imsorryjon to me. If I wanted to ruin my childhood, I'd already be subscribed to that subreddit.


"do no wrong'"

All I know is that my wife is a teacher, and when she tells parents about their kid being mean, or a bully, or anything 'bad', they just say crap like "he doesn't do that at home, he's a good boy, you must be lying, or the other kids are lying" the parents at her school are affluent and can 'do no wrong'.

Parents, please listen to your children's teachers.


"Us vs. Them"

You should know that one of the major forming factors for bullies can be parents paying no attention at all, so the replies you get may be limited by that. Bullying is often more of a dysfunctional attempt at socializing than it is real sadism or manipulation. It depends on which bullying problems you're looking at, of course. But lots of it like harassment-teasing targeting peers that are perceived as weaker is actually an attempt to force camaraderie with others by creating an "Us vs. Them" environment.


My Son. 

My son was a bully.

1st grade I started getting noticed from his teacher that he was throwing sand at girls and stabbing people with a pencil. I talked to him and he had crazy first grade reasons like "she was being mean first". I told him it's not cool and to knock it off. Every teacher meeting I would tell them to let me know and I'll punish him.

Second grade. I meet the teacher. I warn her that I think he's a bully and to watch him. Now he's being mean to specific people. Anyone that can't run fast etc. I'm thinking to myself... I can't watch him all the time, what do I do. At home I start punish him but it doesn't really do anything. All teacher conferences main agenda is bullying.

Third grade. I meet the teacher and warn her we have a bully on our hands. Same crap happens. I'm reading a book on the subject and I read a passage that says if you call a kid a bully he lives up to the role. Hmmmm let the experiment begin.

From that day I stopped calling him a bully and started saying things like "your going to help your teacher today right? You are a good boy. Make me proud by being a helper". Almost night and day. The calls stopped. The next teacher conference, the teacher said how helpful he was.

He's in 8the grade now. No bully calls. I make him do volunteer work weekly just in case. He still does crazy crap like attacking kids that are mean to girls but no bullying. I don't know if I caught it in time or if my kid just needed coaching but it worked.


In Girl Scouts.


Not my story but my mom's/friend's mother: a friend of mine became a bully in middle school. My mom and her mom were friends when we were kids in Girl Scouts (we played together but went our own way more and more when she started to become mean). There was this community event about bullying for Girl Scouts I think and my mom went to support the organizer and because I'd been bullied for years. She wanted to find ways to support me and resolved troop conflicts.

This friends mom went and my mom saw her, she's since left the troop and it had been a few years, and was surprised. Asked her if her daughter had been bullied too. She responded "no, my daughters become a bully and I'm embarrassed. I want to understand why she's doing this and try to teach her how much she's hurting others." My mom was really really impressed because this woman, prior to this conversation, was kind but rather aloof and ignored a lot of the previous "young girls picking on each other in Girl Scouts/clubs", passing it off as just normal kid issues.

It was almost like she'd finally flicked a switch and realized that her daughter's behavior had been progressively getting worse over the years and she, as a mom, had just ignored it until it got to a very serious point. I'm not sure what came if it, but from other people who went to high school with her, she apparently became less of a true bully and started to act more kindly. I always wondered how those conversations went.


The Cousins. 

know I got one of my old bullies hard when, on suggestion from one of my cousins to invite said bullies to my birthday party (7 total, only one showed) and proceeded to introduce the kid as "the craphead who beats me up every day" even called him that in front of his mom. I know at some point the kids mom had a discussion with my mom (I'll ask if she remembers how it went) and after about 20 minutes they up and left.

Never had a issue with him afterwards.

Update... talked to mom, she doesn't remember the exact words that were used but the conversation was basically bully's mom saying I was being rude to my guest and was using foul language I shouldn't use. To which my mom proceeded to tell her all the crap this kid and his little circle of goons did to me, my mom was actually going to pull me aside and show the lady the bruises I had on me from him and the other bullies when she decided to leave.


"I'm sorry" 

I used to (verbally) bully a neighborhood-kid. I think we were around 7 or 8 years old or so. She was deaf and therefore talked a bit weird. At one point we were being mean towards her and it got so bad she jumped on her bike to get away from us and she lost her balance and fell, chafing her chin and palms. She starts crying, and at the same time laughing but also panic and remorse on our side ensued.

Not long after I got home, her mother called mine and my mum was very upset and angry with me. She said she was taking me to the toy store and told me to bring my pocket money and buy this girl a gift as an apology. Also I had personally go to her house, ring the bell, come in, gift her the present and say I'm sorry, that it was hurtful what i did and would never do it again.

I remember feeling so bad, I cried harder than she did when she fell of her bike earlier that afternoon. I was so ashamed of myself and horrified that my mum was so mad at me. The girl asked me why I did this to her and I just could not answer the question. I just wept like a baby on my own mothers lap, mumbling "I'm sorry" between sobs.

For sure my parents taught me a lesson.


Fallen Apples. 

Not until he started 5th grade. He was super close to his grandpa (wife's dad) and when he died it destroyed him and his behavior changed. Few weeks after the funeral this kids mom called my wife saying things my kid was saying and doing. Not the school mind you. We had a parent teacher conference days BEFORE she called. Teacher didn't say a word. We talked to him.

Your first reaction is to protect your kid and not accept it, but we can tell by the way he was reacting to the discussion. We arranged a playdate of sorts. We monitor it now. He talks to a therapist to. He's a good kid just makes terrible decisions. As a father of 4 we've been on the other end of it as well and usually if the kids an a**hole so is one or both of the parents. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree at times.


Worth it. 

I was the victim until I paid older kids in snacks to beat up the people bullying me. I made sure they knew I had caused their injuries.

You see the snack transaction was a one time thing but the bullies thought the older kids that beat them up were my mates... and i kept that lie alive.

Less than 3 quid to take out a hit on my tormentors. 👍

Worth it.


It's Me.


A bunch of friends and myself were sitting around one day talking about school and we got to the subject of being bullied. As I sat there listening, I realized that I didn't have a story to tell. This is when I also realized I was the bully.


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