Sunday, January 12, 2014

When Your Child is Mean

We all want our children to get along well with everyone.  In fact, we believe they are perfect and can do nothing wrong. 

I have seen this in the school playground.  Girls will gang up on a certain schoolmate and ostracize her or boys will hurt some classmates.  And the frustrating thing is – the parents are clueless! They find it hard to accept and actually are very surprised when they find out their child is hurting others.

When your child is being mean, what should you do?

(By the way, I have seen children being mean as early as preschool.  I don’t think they are aware of it, because they are used to being the lone star in their homes.  Once you put these “stars in their homes” together in school, they will tend to clash. Everyone wants to be the star!)

Once you see, overhear, or hear someone tell you that your child is being mean, take steps to stop it IMMEDIATELY.  Be careful though.  It may not be helpful to put the blame on him right away.  Likewise, it is not right to label him a bully.  Your intervention is crucial, but do not judge nor criticize your child.  Instead, make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable and one that you won’t tolerate.  Then, explore possible solutions with him.

 Ask him what he can do instead of fighting.  If he didn’t like what his friend did, ask him how he can tell his friend in a way that will not hurt him.

Explain to him the importance of treating others with kindness and respect. 

Tell him how to share, negotiate or compromise.  Ask him, “How do you think you can borrow that toy from your friend without hurting his feelings or making him angry? Let’s come up with ideas.”  Encourage your child to come up with solutions and choose one to try.  Follow it up in a few days and see how it is working.  If it is not doing well, choose a new one with him.  Children sometimes act mean because they don’t know how to get what they want through any other way.  They need to realize that there are better ways to handle the problem.

If your child’s behavior persists, establish consequences for his actions.  Ground him.  Shorten his playtime if he continues to act in ways that are unacceptable.  If it happens in school, work it out or coordinate with the teacher. Analyze your behavior and your family situation also.  Children do tend to imitate their parents.  Are you being mean, too?  


  1. it is tough to accept it especially to the parents if their young ones are mean but you are right they should take steps to control their kiddos :)

  2. Helpful post sis, thanks for sharing! My daughter will hopefully be starting school this year, and she has a bossy streak a mile wide so I am a bit worried she'd be that way at school too.

  3. True! Kids tend to imitate the grown ups. We must always be careful with our actions.

  4. parents should give out consequences if their kids were mean, it isn't nice it gets worse when no one takes action and when they kept telling the kid is too young to be taught however, the younger the better in order for them not to be a mean kid and that it is bad.

  5. I think that when people say your child is mean. It would be good to observe what's causing it first as he or she may be in a brittle state and cause more problem.

  6. Thank you so much sis for these tips. I love reading your parenting posts as it helps me a lot. I remember when my daughter first went to school, she was a bit mean to her brother when she comes home. I found out that she is releasing her stress towards him as she feel pressured by other kids from school. It is a tough situation sometimes. It gives me migraine even when my kids don't get along but when I go to school and the teacher always compliments the two, it makes me feel good that both of my kids behave well around other kids.

  7. I heard someone said that we don't need to teach kids to be bad it just comes out naturally because of our sin nature. This is why God said we have to teach the children the way(God's way) they should go and when they grow older they won't depart from it. Parenting is a very challenging job and I thank GOD for guiding me and renewing my strength daily esp raising 3 boys

  8. my nephew treats her younger sister badly and though her parents often remind him to be kinder, he always forgets it... but i hope their relationship will change when they're older.

  9. Naku conscious ako sa ganyan. Quick to reprimand pag medyo mean or not behaving well ang mga pamangkin hehe. Pero you're right, we shouldn't be too quick to blame everything on the poor kid. They just didn't know better siguro...