Disciplining your child and bullying them are not the same thing. Discipline is meant to teach children right from wrong, but when a parent uses discipline as a way to have total control over a child, there’s a good chance that mom or dad has crossed the line into bullying because of the tactics they use.
For instance, if a child accidentally breaks a glass or spills his drink on the floor, the logical way to handle it is to make him clean up his mess. If he does it out of anger, then perhaps add a time-out or deprive him of video game time. But parents who call their child names, hit them, or make fun of them for being accident prone have become bully parents.
These are some bully parenting tactics:
- Threatening to hurt a child
- Name calling
- Cussing a child out
- Insulting, especially in public
- Creating unhealthy competition between siblings
- Favoritism towards one child, neglecting another
- Unfair punishment
- Constant criticism
- Exposing a child to violence, drugs, drunkenness or crime
- Unreasonably strict rules
- Mocking a child’s efforts
- Telling a child it would be better if they were not born
- Telling a child the parent does not want him or her
- Controlling a child’s every move
- Demanding perfectionism
- Unrealistic expectations for helping out; helping with chores is reasonable, but expecting a child to earn enough money to pay for school or for their own food is illegal and bullying.
While most parents do not use bullying tactics all the time, it’s probably safe to say that we’ve all employed one or two of those tactics at some point. If that’s you, admit your mistake, purpose to not do it again, and move on.
One or two mistakes do not make you a bully. But watch out for negative habits to form as an easy way to parent. If you or someone you know is regularly overbearing, causing humiliation or discomfort through physical or emotional beatings, you must put a stop to it, for the sake of the child.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new booklet 11 Habits for Healthy and Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.