Monday, July 31, 2017

When Parents Are Bullied

Much has been written in both the academic and popular literature about bullying -- what to do if your child is bullied, how to avoid raising a child who bullies, tips for parents and teachers who encounter bullying, and more. But we recently encountered a book that looks at bullying from a different perspective, one that we previously would not have thought about in terms of bullying - when children bully their parents.

When Kids Call the Shots, by psychotherapist Sean Grover, LCSW, looks at children who might be labelled "bossy" or "difficult" or "temperamental" and considers their behavior through a different lens. Grover views these children as bullies, and the targets of their bullying behavior are their parents. Understanding how and why this behavior develops and what parents can do to change their child's behavior is the focus of Grover's book, which grew out of his more than 20 years of working with both children and adults and his own experiences as a parent.

The book examines different ways that children become bullies, focusing on the three most common kinds of bullies: the defiant bully, the anxious bully, and the manipulative bully. Grover looks at the forces that drive each of these kinds of behaviors in children and then discusses the kinds of parents who are most prone to being bullied by their children. He continues with steps families can take to put together a support team (school officials, mental health professionals, and others) and ways parents can act to stop bullying behaviors. Grover spends time discussing family crises that may trigger bullying behaviors, things like divorce, trauma, and financial hardship. 

The book has a positive approach and a hopeful message, focusing on the fact that there are reasons why children behave this way and why parents may be feeding into this behavior. And his specific guidance on how parents can improve their family dynamic is something that should be helpful for parents asking the question: "What happened to my sweet, adorable child?"

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