What to do if your child is a cyberbully | Internet Matters

What to do if your child is a cyberbully

Cyberbully

As a parent, it can be difficult to accept that your child is exhibiting the behaviour of a cyberbully.

Although it may be difficult to understand why a child would be mean online, there are things that you can do to help them address their behaviour in a positive way.

When you find out that your child has acted as a cyberbully, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation that is free of judgement. Keep these tips in mind if you believe your child has been the bully:

Try to find out why they cyberbully

Ask them whether there is a reason they are acting this way and try to resolve any underlying issues to stop it happening. Encourage them to think about how they would feel if the comments were about them.

Explain the severity of cyberbullying

Tell them that the behaviour is not acceptable. Persistent cyberbullying could cause them to lose friends or result in being reported to their school or even the police.

Share your concerns with other adults

Work with your family, other trusted adults and your child’s teacher to send clear messages to your child about the impact this could have on them and the person or people they are targeting.

Teach by example

Children learn from their parents, so modelling positive behaviour will help your child take on similar behaviours. Engaging in activities that help build empathy and understanding of how to resolve conflict in the right way will give children the tools to deal with difficult situations that they may face.

Be realistic about changing behaviours

It’s important to note that your child may need some time to take new positive behaviours on board, so being patient with them and showing them that they have your support will really help.

Things to avoid

It can be overwhelming if you’re faced with a situation where your child is the bully. There are certain actions that can potentially have a negative effect. You may want to avoid the following:

  • Don’t get upset with your child — try and talk with other adults to work through any emotions you have about the situation
  • Don’t ignore the situation or blame someone else — as a role model, it is best to show your child that taking responsibility for your own actions is the right thing to do
  • If your child was cyberbullying in retaliation, tell them that two wrongs cannot make a right
  • Be aware that any child is capable of such behaviours. Lots of parents are surprised too!

Remember that you are not alone. Our Cyberbullying Hub features stories from parents who have been exactly where you are. Find them here.

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