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View Behavior Model

View All Behaviors

Four Steps Model
Step 1: Identify the Behavior
Step 2: Understand the Effects
Step 3: Identify the Cause
Step 4: Avoid Mistakes

Related Behaviors
The Angry
The Defier
The Fighter
The Overly Aggressive
Behaviors At School

The Bully

Action: Identify causes of misbehavior. Pinpoint student needs being revealed. Employ specific methods, procedures, and techniques at school and at home for getting the child to modify or change his/her behavior.

Primary Causes of Misbehavior

This student is an attention seeker and enjoys the attention he/she gets from peers and adults.

This student demonstrates power by his/her ability to physically hurt others. Being physical gives him/her a feeling of being in control.

The bully usually knows that hurting is wrong, but being physically strong makes him/her somebody-it improves a poor self-concept.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

This student can establish a relationship only by being the strongest. This could well be the lesson that is being taught at home.

Escape from Pain
This person's life could be so negative, and he/she could be so afraid of what is going to happen next, that he/she adopts bully behavior for protection from others.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

This student needs to belong to a group, but he/she is unacceptable; thus the student becomes the leader of his/her own group.

Because of an inability to function socially, the bully exerts power by physical force. He/she may get beaten up at home, and may win approval at home by being tough at school.

Physical power makes this student feel independent, in charge of his/her life.

Actions to Take
  • Use the "Delay" technique. If the bully threatens to "get someone" after class, hold him/her after class. Don't let the bully leave-or he/she may have to carry through to keep peer respect. Say, "You made a threat. Now you've had time to think. If you carry through, that's premeditated." Then explain what this means: If the student chooses to go ahead, he/she must be prepared to face the full consequences, whatever they may be. However, don't tell the student what the specific consequences will be.

  • Don't assume this student is tough. The bully may in fact be weak, and may be using his/her antics to cover up insecurity. Likewise, a student who is loud is not necessarily an extrovert.

  • Establish a one-to-one relationship with the bully. This student needs-and always lacks-such a relationship with a strong and successful adult model.

  • Be gentle rather than tough. The bully can handle toughness-it's his/her forte. However, the bully can't fight gentleness, and this is what he/she really wants.

  • Take the student off the hook. The bully usually accepts bigger responsibilities well, and will do as you say. To take the student off the hook, you could encourage him/her to say to others, "Miss Jones won't let me fight."

  • Keep in mind that kids who fight an authority figure do so only to compensate for a flaw in their own characters which they themselves may or may not recognize. Therefore, you must help the student make the identification.

  • Make it safe for the bully to be vulnerable to others. Otherwise, he/she will keep bullying because that behavior keeps others away and shields areas of insecurity.

  • Openly address the problem of his/her insecurity; it is the main issue. Give this student big responsibilities-and rechannel his/her energies constructively.

  • Praise him/her for appropriate behavior continually. And when you do, call the new behavior "strong."

  • Design activities which will bring out his/her leadership and assertion strengths in a positive way. However, be sure to make success or failure "safe" when you do.

  • Show the student that you care about, respect, and trust him/her. This type of student tends to be extremely loyal.

  • Discuss the problem with parents. However, make sure the student attends any private conference. If you don't, a credibility gap may develop between you and the student.

  • Let the student help decide any consequences should he/she falter.

  • Let the student know that you like him/her, but that you dislike the behavior.

  • Don't put the student in a position in which he/she must "prove" him/herself, or the bully behavior may recur.

  • Let the student know that bullying can't be tolerated-no matter what you think of him/her. The bully must be aware of your respect for people. Therefore, make sure you don't do anything which could be considered "bullying," or abusing power.

  • Athletics are a good outlet for this behavior. Talk to your physical education colleagues and coaches.

  • Have him/her sit near or work with the opposite sex.

  • Never forget the motivational force of pride. However, remember that true pride has one source: solid personal achievement coupled with the respect for others that grows out of self-respect. To instill pride in a student, a teacher must give him/her personal success and meaningful accomplishments. If not, lack of self-respect, degradation, and even shame make pride a difficult achievement for some students, especially the bully.