What to Do When Bullying Begins at Home

Kay Hall - July 31, 2021

Did you know that at least 20 percent of children experience bullying by their peers? It’s a tough statistic to stomach, but what’s worse is that many children also experience bullying at home. Whether it’s parents, other caregivers, or siblings, bullies can have a significant impact on a child’s growth and development. Kids with close connections with their parents are likely to develop positive relationships with other children, including schoolmates. But sadly, bullying in the home is not uncommon. 

What Is Parental Bullying?

Parents who resort to threats and violence in an attempt to reprimand their children are bullies. Authoritarian responses come in the forms of verbal threats like yelling, social and psychological distresses, hurtful ways like withdrawal of privileges, and physical harm like smacking or spanking. It doesn’t have to be direct bullying. Children are also affected by what they observe. They may be influenced by intimate partner violence between their parental figures and turn out to be bullies. How can children and parents prevent parental bullying?

Speak Up And Discipline the Right Way

No parent wants to admit that they’re being a bully. But recognizing your own challenging behaviors is the first step toward healing yourself and your child. Speak up and ask for professional help with learning proactive parenting strategies. Parents need to discipline their kids, not as a punishment, but as a way of showing them the right path. Avoid spanking or resorting to physical violence when dealing with problem behaviors.

Open Lines Of Communication And Set Good Model

Daily conversation between a parent and a child can remove any friction between them. And open family communication is healthy for everyone. Be open with your kids about feelings and even struggles. Let them address you freely without fear. Part of showing children that bullying is not acceptable at home or anywhere else involves modeling healthy relationships. Whether you’re single or partnered up (with your child’s other parent or not), seeing how you and your partner interact will impact your child. Healthy romantic boundaries are a smart tool to equip your kids with before they start dating. Being able to recognize the signs of healthy relationships can help them avoid potentially abusive situations as teens and adults connecting with others. Counseling is an ideal option for parents who want to change their ways. Therapy can help you connect with your family and grow alongside your kid.

Take Note That Siblings Can Be Bullies, Too

Home bullying isn’t confined to parents or caretakers. It can also involve siblings. Sibling relationships define how children develop socially and emotionally. But research estimates that 32 percent of kids have experienced violence from a sister or a brother. Sibling bullying acts involve physical abuse, such as kicking, shoving, and fighting. It also includes vandalism of toys and other possessions, psychological abuse, and social sabotage like propagating lies against a sibling. Regrettably, guardians and parents sometimes misinterpret this form of bullying. The common assumption is it is part of growing up or kid’s play.

Ultimately, communication is crucial for stopping bullying at home. It’s also important to remember that there is nothing wrong with asking a professional for help. Counseling and support groups can help parents be their children’s biggest advocates — not their biggest bullies. 


Kay spent several years working as an e-safety officer, dedicated to educating both children and adults on enjoying cyberspace in safety. Since starting a family of her own, she has returned to her first love of writing, and contributes to a number of websites on the topics that matter to her.