8. They bully and pick on others.
This is worse than just fighting. Usually it is caused by the child’s insecurity and low self-esteem. He needs to bully and act powerful. He is trying to hide his fear and self-doubt that are at the bottom of the behavior. Less common is a child who just likes to hurt people and control them. When this is what is going on, the child is very mentally sick.
Watch the child, his behavior, and his reactions. Does he want to be one-up and more powerful than other children? Does he get pleasure from seeing other children suffer? These are not the same and it does make a difference.
If his need is to be one-up and in control, you can usually help. The child wants people to respect him and like him. He has picked a way that does not work. They are afraid but do not respect him or like him much. Say, “Bullying and picking on Suzie is not a good way to get the respect you want. It just makes her afraid of you and causes others not to like you. It does not get you what you want. Even those who act like they think you are a big deal are not being honest with you. They are using you to feel important. Some of them are afraid and do not want you to treat them the way you treat Suzie. You’ll have to decide whether you want to be a bully or have people like you.”
He may say he does not care whether anyone likes him. Say, “It’s your choice. I am just saying being a bully is not your best choice if you want people to like you. You have choices. If you are interested, I will think with you about some of those choices.” Be sure not to miss the chance to teach but resist the temptation to preach.