Signs of Parents Bullying

While the typical focus of bullying involves peer relationships with children, there is another type of bullying that lurks in the lives of some children. While parental motivation is usually love and guidance, parents may go overboard and engage in bullying behavior with a child in the process of parenting.


A climate of over-control in the household can contribute to a bullying situation for children. Parents who engage in authoritarian-style parenting exert strong demands and control without an accompanying warmth and love, states the University of New Hampshire website. These parents often lay down unilateral rules and expectations without allowing children to question or even discuss the rules. The lack of connection and concern often produces kids who withdraw and do not trust parents.


A parent who falls back on parenting techniques based on aggression may fit the bullying profile, according to James Lehman, MSW, with the Empowering Parents website 2. Aggressive parenting may involve yelling, intimidating, threatening and even inappropriate use of verbal and physical discipline with a child. A child may react to aggressive parenting with fear initially, and eventually rebellion.

Narcissistic Parenting

A narcissistic parent often appears to be mother or father of the year to the world, while behind closed doors at home, life is not so ideal. The narcissistic parent often does not parent with empathy and does not show unconditional love to children, states Karyl McBride, Ph.D., with the Psychology Today website. Narcissistic parents may be excessively oriented toward achievements and they may also be so emotionally needy that children feel they need to care for the parent. These bullying parents may also be secretly mean and abusive toward children while projecting a different demeanor to the world.

Continuing the Pattern

A child who exhibits bullying tendencies toward peers may have learned these behaviors from parents who bully, states the SafetyWeb website. When a parent becomes explosively angry, does not nurture, does not show respect and uses anger to discipline children, children learn a pattern of aggression to interact with others. Although bullying behavior in a child does not always indicate bullying behavior from parents, it’s possible that parents are making parenting mistakes that involve a lack of nurturing and respect.