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April 23, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Bully or Leader: What’s Your Child?

So ... what's the difference between a leader and a bully? Outright bossiness!

Bully or Leader? And … What Makes it That Way?

“Kids don’t suddenly become bullies,” says psychologist and author Dr. Laura Markham in her book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. “They begin by treating others with disrespect in small ways. If no one challenges them, the behavior becomes ingrained. So the ‘signs’ to watch for are any kind of disrespectful comments to and about others,” Markham adds.
Children first begin experimenting with getting what they want around 4 or 5 years old. How you handle what they do goes a long way toward shaping what happens next.
“Children learn how to get what they want from other people by experimenting with the use of power,” Markham says, “saying things like, “If you don’t do what I say, then I won’t let you play with my toy!”
If parents don’t catch and correct their child in the early years, it can get out of hand, Markham says. And when kids are older, the insensitivities on the part of your child can continue.
So how can you take a child with a big personality into the realm of leader rather than bully?
    ‘The most important thing you can do to avoid raising a child who bullies others is to treat your child and others with empathy and respect,” says Markham. “If you relate to others, including your children, by looking for solutions instead of resorting to power to solve problems, your kids will follow your lead. If you resort to threats, punishment and yelling, or make mean comments to or about others, you are role­ modeling bullying.’



So does your child have a strong personality? Are you channeling his strengths positively? Take a look at the qualities of bullies vs. leaders.



1) Control Everything
They’re only interested in their own achievements receiving attention, the heck with everyone else.

2) Misuse Authority
They allow themselves special privileges and take pleasure in denying privileges to others. They have little or no regard for authority outside of their own.

3) Lack Empathy
Bullies find it difficult to see things from someone else’s point of view and nothing is ever their fault. They find it difficult to enjoy others’ success.

4) Use force
Bullies use sticks and stones to get things done, resorting to name calling and shortcuts.

5) Lack perception
Bullies take no interest in what others think, say or do and will completely ignore others’ feelings and points of view.


1) Are Interested in How the Team Performs
Leaders want to take the whole team forward. They encourage others toward success.

2) Use Authority Wisely
Leaders use their authority when necessary; sometimes they may withhold authority for the best results, if they think it’s the right thing to do.

3) See Other Points of View
Leaders have empathy. They are aware of the problems that others have and care freely about what goes on with others and the successes they achieve.

4) Inspire and encourage
Leaders spend time and energy investing in others, building up respect and trust.

5) Are perceptive
Leaders are highly discerning people. They innately know what works for themselves and others and can anticipate outcomes and issues.

Want to know more? Read this read about leadership from this article out of Harvard University.


About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.