Parenting Tip of the Day: Feb. 17

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Is your child is a bully? “Most parents’ first inclination is probably to either deny, or blame others,” Amanda Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention in Buffalo, New York, told “Or to yell at the child and implement a strict punishment.”

But none of these reactions will likely resolve the issue. Listen to your child about the causes of his or her behavior, but don’t let him or her get away with excuses. Consider the context: Is your child simply going along with the crowd? Does he or she have underlying biases toward certain kids, or groups of kids? Has your child been bullied in the past himself? Learning the answers to these questions will help you understand your child’s actions and come up with a plan to change the behavior, Nickerson said.

But that doesn’t mean the child shouldn’t face consequences. “Parents need to send a firm message that ‘I’m with you, but this behavior is not acceptable,’” she emphasized.

Related: The Bullying Culture: What You Must Know

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