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Bullying: Five Reasons Kids Bully Other Kids

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT

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Did you recently get the dreaded call from the Assistant Principal at Middle School? The one who handles discipline issues?

Did they break the unfortunate news that your kid has been bullying other kids?


This doesn’t mean your kid is a bad person or you’re a bad parent. When a kid bullies other kids, there’s almost always something going on beneath the behavior. And it’s something you can work on. If your kid has been bullying others, check this list to zero in on the root cause.

Top Five Reasons Kids Bully Other Kids

  1. They’re trying to fit in. They see another kid do it and get positive social results – so they try it out themselves.
  2. They feel powerless and compensate for their uncomfortable emotion by acting out. They see adults react when other kids bully, so they do it to draw attention.
  3. They’ve been bullied themselves and are trying to re-establish their sense of worth and power by directing their frustration at another child.
  4. They don’t understand the harm they’re causing. Kids often don’t know where the line between comedy and cruelty is, nor do they understand that when they cross that line, they can cause real harm.
  5. They may have issues with emotional regulation, impulse control, or difficulty practicing empathy and compassion. They may have ideas and emotions they’re not equipped to deal with, which may cause them to lash out at others.

Once you find out what’s going on, talk to your child about it. If you need help sorting through big emotional issues, then seek the help of a mental health professional who specializes in working with children and adolescents.

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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