Bullies don’t learn how to get along with people—they simply figure out how control them, solving problems through force, cruelty and intimidation. When a bully is feeling powerless or afraid, he is more likely to become hostile, because he needs to quickly restore a sense of power and control. It escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion. Parents need to help a child learn how to feel anger or frustration without giving them permission to lash out and harm others emotionally. Children who bully become adults who continue the behavior.
It takes consciousness, connection and intention to avoid parenting on auto-pilot. I recently read a great article “How Children Have Become their Parents’ Bullies” written by Robin Berman, MD . It starts, “At a toy store, I witnessed a common but ludicrous dynamic; a 4-year-old child was emotionally bullying his mother. The helpless mom repeatedly explained to her son that he was not getting a present because it was not his birthday – they were there to buy his friend a present…” http://time.com/98409/children-parents-bullies
Bullies are not born – they are raised. Bullying, at its core, is a learned behavior in response to stress. It is our job as parents to set limits, teach appropriate social skills, develop compassion and empathy, and teach children to control their impulses and emotional reactions.