Last week I talked about who and what a bully is. In that article we discovered that there are NO stereotypes when it comes to a bully; they can BE anybody and LOOK like anybody. We also differentiated the difference between bullying and two people fighting or having an argument. This week I’m going to discuss why kids bully. With this knowledge we can change things around, both for the bully and the child being bullied.

The biggest misconception about bullying is that it’s about anger. Anger is always a bigger emotion that is covering up a hidden emotion.

Bullying is much more about low-self- esteem, fear, pain, and unhappiness. It’s difficult to believe this when bullying seems so nasty, but really, if a person is truly happy, would they EVER consider bullying? No. So, we always must look to the root cause.

Another reason for bullying is a sense of entitlement. This comes, unfortunately, from the way in which they were raised, sometimes from very well meaning parents who thought they were doing the best.

I often speak about the four things children need in order to feel loved. They are:

Eye Contact
Physical Contact
Focused Attention
Discipline (My kind, nothing harsh or abusive, and no wishy washy stuff either)

If we take a closer look at these and relate them to why kids bully, you can easily see that one area is missing for them in their lives.

Eye Contact - They feel no one sees them, or cares to see them.

Physical Contact - They are often alone and don’t receive loving, appropriate touch as much as they need.

Focused Attention - They have parents/people around them, but are not experiencing enough direct, focused, POSITIVE attention. What do they do then? If their need is focused attention, they’ll get it any way they can, even if it’s negative.

Discipline - Kids need limits and boundaries - they CRAVE it! It makes them feel loved. Believe me when I say, that after surveying thousands of children from around the world on what makes them feel happy and loved by their parent s, one of the top ten things they all mentioned was discipline. A common phrase used was, “My mommy disciplines me; it makes me feel she cares.”

Now, there is a caveat to this: not all discipline is equal. All of the children who wrote this came from families where the parents were doing a great job at giving firm and fair limits and consequences. I am not talking about spanking, yelling, belittling, name calling OR bribing, negotiating, reminding, talking and explaining too much.

Understanding this, we can see that if a child is being treated harshly at home, the reaction to that will come out elsewhere - guaranteed. Conversely, if the child is being given free run, given everything they want, when they want it, as if they are entitled to it, they also will act out, in search of what they need - which is consistent, reliable limits, boundaries and consequences. Last year I watched Piers Morgan interview Kelly Osborne. She said that before she went onto Dancing With the Stars, she didn’t want to live anymore. She had completely withdrawn from life, taking up to 50 pills a day, just praying she wouldn’t wake up the next day.

“What caused this unhappiness?” Piers asked her. Her reply? Total dissatisfaction with her life, too much pain from seeing her dad abuse drugs and alcohol, but mostly…and get this...a lack of structure and discipline in her life.

Knowing all of this will make it easier to explain to your child who is being bullied, that it is NOT because of them; it’s about how the bully feels about him or herself, and on what they’re getting or not getting at home.

Although this will add some comfort to your child , this will not help them say, “Okay, I get it. I guess they don’t mean to hurt me”, and then skip away happily. There is more that needs to be done. This will be the topic for next week’s article. In Part 3, I will offer you advice on what else you can do to help your child’s self worth stay in tact and even grow from this experience. As well, as other ways to deal with this at the school level.

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.