How Children Become Bullies


Not one single expecting parent ever says, “You know what? I hope my child turns out to be a bully. That would just be awesome.” Most of the time (at least I hope) we want our children to be decent, empathetic, and caring human beings. No one wants to receive multiple calls a day about their children’s behaviors – especially if the calls pertain to your child physically or emotionally hurting another child.

Sometimes children develop social behaviors that are less than ideal, despite our best intentions as parents. Bullying behaviors can be very overt and in your face or you may not even realize your child is engaging in these behaviors at all. You may even have a child that appears to be well-liked by peers but has gained social status through fear, rather than friendliness.

So how exactly does a child become a bully? What can cause a generally well-behaved or well-mannered child choose the path of darkness? Keep reading to find out!


They have poor social skills.

Some children may not know how to navigate certain social situations. For example, they may not know how to share with other children. When they’re playing and another child grabs a block from the communal pile, they might yell or hit that child. Older children may not know how to handle a disagreement with a peer and may start rumors or say hurtful things as a means of retaliation.

They don’t have a good understanding of emotions.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and express emotions in a healthy way. A child is less likely to cope with disagreements or rejection if they have low emotional intelligence. Most children have to learn emotional intelligence as they grow – it’s not usually something that is inherent. Luckily, emotional intelligence is easy to learn (and you can find out how by clicking here).

They may have a rough home life.

A majority of what children learn is from the things they observe. A child is more likely to bully or intimidate others if they see their parents bullying or intimidating others. If a parent or calls them names or yells at them, they are more likely to do the same to others.

A child who is being abused or neglected is also more likely to act out. Children who come from these environments often don’t have the skills they need to deal with the stress they are experiencing at home. They probably don’t know how to verbalize what’s happening at home and this causes them to feel physically uncomfortable. Feelings of discomfort are likely to manifest as anger and aggression.


They’re bending to social pressure.

Some kids may feel pressured to act a certain way by their peers. For example, say one kid in their class gets picked on by his or her peer group. All of their other friends will talk trash about this particular kid and are mean to them. Your child may join in even though they don’t want to hurt that child’s feelings. A lot of times, children will join in with their friends because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. Your child may be afraid of becoming the next target if they stand up for that child or refuse to join in on the bullying.

They have certain personality traits.

Some children pick on others because they are insecure and are looking to point out the flaws in others. They may feel like they’re not good enough and don’t want other’s to think they are weak. On the flipside, other kids are actually very narcissistic and may feel superior to other people. They want to exert their dominance and will do this by bullying others. These are inherent traits and are often just the way our children are genetically wired. This doesn’t mean your child is doomed to be a bully, it just means you’re going to have to help guide them on the right path.


Is your child a bully? Would you like some help and guidance getting them on the right track? Then parent coaching might be right for you! Check out Parent Coaching Services with Leanne Pilgrim to find out more information or click here to schedule a FREE consultation!