Targets can be bullies, and vice versa. Some targets have a bad day at school and then release their frustrations by bullying siblings and parents. Sometimes I ask a child, 'Something is wrong. You don't like being bullied at school, so why do you do it at home and hurt others?' I get a sheepish reply: 'I don't know.' Perhaps your child comes home looking distressed, so you inquire, 'What's wrong?' In a passive-aggressive way - which hides his true feelings - he explodes, 'Nothing!' He rejects your concern, runs out of the room and slams the door. In such cases:
• Don't attack back or become defensive.
• Give empathy training to make him responsible for his behaviours.
• Tell him how you feel when he is mean, e.g. 'I feel.. .when you...'.
• Check his verbal and nonverbal feedback - this forces him to become totally accountable to you.
• If he cares about you and apologises, he's learning empathy.
• If he doesn't care about your feelings and doesn't absorb your message, repeat it until he does.
• Alternatively, give him a consequence to help him learn empathy, e.g. 'As you don't care how I feel, I won't give up my free time to take you to.' (see Chapter 11).
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