How to Know If Your Child Is a Bully


The common perception of a bully is the big kid who is bullied or abused at home. We imagine that a bully is someone who is ignored at home, naturally aggressive, and unhappy. The truth is that bullies come in many different shapes and sizes, and they come from a much wider range of backgrounds than you might imagine.

In fact, the children that are more likely to bully are popular, well-connected to their peers, and have social power. They’re not afraid to use this social power to impact the lives and happiness of others. Most parents are honestly surprised when they learn that their child has been bullying another.

It is important, however, to stay alert to your child’s behavior. Bullying has lasting consequences. Children who bully are more likely to bully when they’re adults. They may be unable to form positive social relationships. They’re also less likely to be successful and happy as adults.

Related: Coping with Teen Bullying

So what are the signs? How can you tell if your child is a bully?

Increased Aggression

If your child seems to be more aggressive lately, it could be a sign that they’re bullying. It’s difficult for a child to shake aggression. If they’re getting into confrontations at school, whether verbal or physical, they may also be more aggressive at home.

School Troubles

How are your child’s grades? Are they staying focused in school or has their attention moved more towards their peers? While it is natural to be concerned with peer relationships during middle school and high school, grades shouldn’t drop much. Additionally, if your child has been getting in trouble at school, it may be a sign that they are having difficulty with authority. They may be feeling powerless and acting out.

Change in Friends

Has your child’s core of friends changed? Are those friends more aggressive or assertive than prior friends? Does your child seem to be the leader of the group or a follower? Are their friends positive and supportive or negative? Your child’s friends are a significant clue about what your child is doing and how they’re engaging with their peers.


Another sign that your child may be a bully is if they seem to acquire new belongings. If your child comes home with stuff that you didn’t buy for them or they seem to have more money than they should, they may be bullying a child into giving them material belongings or cash.

Finally, if your child seems unable to accept responsibility for their actions, they blame others or they play the role of a victim, then they might be prone to bullying. A child that is overly concerned about their reputation may have a tendency to bully as well.