Bullies: Do They Have Low Self-Esteem?

Do bullies have low self-esteem? Is that what causes their actions? Check out our thoughts on the motivations behind bullying & tell us what you think!

Do bullies have low self-esteem, is that why they treat others poorly?  Bullying is intentionally making someone feel bad.  Bullying comes in many different forms from physical to cyber, all with the purpose of making them feel bad.   Bullies get some satisfaction out of seeing someone else hurt physically or emotionally.  Or maybe they just don’t know how to treat people correctly?  Keep reading, it may surprise you.

Related: Effects of Bullying on a Child’s Self Esteem

Bullies: Do They Have Low Self-Esteem?

Is it low self-esteem?

This answer surprised me; I always thought that all bullies have low self-esteem, and that is why they act the way they do.  It is just the opposite.  Surprisingly, they feel pretty good about themselves.  They think highly of themselves, and thus the reason for their poor behavior.  Bullies think they are superior to everyone else.  The reality is, according to the Center for Disease Control, bullies are more likely to experience violence at home.

Is it a need for attention?

More often than not, a child is missing out on positive attention from his or her parent and is lashing out to get the attention he needs and wants.  It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad attention;  attention is attention.   

Is it learned behavior?

Kids are like giant sponges; they soak up what is around them and then act the same way.  If a child is being bullied at home (angry parents, parents who constantly put their child down) that child is going to treat others the same way.  Our parents are supposed to teach us the right way to act right?  Well, if the parents are acting the right way, then the kids aren’t going to either.

Is it self-defence?

Sometimes kids bully to prevent themselves from being bullied.  It is a defense mechanism in a way.  They think if I am the bully, then I can’t be bullied.  

Just trying to be cool?

Being a kid is tough!  I know when I was a kid, other kids thought it was cool to be mean to others.  I was not one of those kids, it never made me feel right to be mean, I felt bad for those who were being bullied.  Some kids want to be part of the popular crowd and think the way to get there is to be mean to and make fun of other kids.  Sometimes there may not be any other underlying factor for a bully to bully other than he just wants to fit in.

Related: 5 Great Self-Esteem-Boosting Games You Can Play With Your Child

Whatever the reason is for a child to bully others, it is a behavior that can be changed.  Kid’s behaviors are not set in stone, all it takes is a caring adult to help them see how their actions are hurting others.  Deep down, they are probably hurting too.  Let’s try to get to the root of the problem instead of simply punishing the bad behavior.  

Have you had to deal with bullies, whether it was you being bullied or your kids?  How did you go about dealing with the situation?  Share your stories and experiences with us below in the comments!

22 thoughts on “Bullies: Do They Have Low Self-Esteem?”

  1. I spent most of my childhood afraid to go to school- I was a geek, much younger than my peers, and stuck out like a sore thumb. In my case, I think I was just an easy target.

  2. Thank you for this article! Too many people try to fix the problem without getting to the root. I think my favorite thought you wrote is that “Kid’s behaviors are not set in stone…” I have seen many adults say that so and so is a “bad kid” or so and so was just born with a negative or manipulative attitude, forgetting that children need to be molded! They can change! If the adults in their lives give up on them, why shouldn’t they give up too? Thank you again for these thoughts!

  3. This is a great question and topic for sure. I do believe bullies bully because they to have a love self esteem or because they are being bullied by others. They could be getting bullied by adults in their life..

  4. This is such a great topic for parents. It is important to understand what our kids are feeling and thinking and that is often times spelled out in their actions with others.

  5. This is good information for those parents who don’t know where else to turn. I feel like once the problem is recognised the parents should do everything they can to correct it especially in this case. It could end really badly for everyone if the problem isn’t corrected.

  6. Growing up kids were so cruel because I was different. I didn’t like the things they liked and prefered to spend time with my family than other kids who I did not have much in common with. Bullying has become so prevalent in today’s society and it really is so sad. I’ve just got to think that those who are mean and bully others do so because of their negative feelings that they have about themselves.

  7. I’m not sure about that. I think bullies CAN have low self-esteem and that’s can trigger the behavior too. So to me, I have always felt like it’s a combination of everything you mentioned. I definitely look toward the parents first though

  8. I homeschool one of my boys and a deciding factor was this exact reason. He is very sensitive and emotional his last year in public school was a roller coaster of good and bad. I worried so much about him and the bullying that went on because of his emotional nature.

  9. I was bullied in school and I am praying my son does not. I hope that those that do bullies find what they need to fill that void. Either way it is a sad situation.

  10. I always want to look toward the parents of bullies. Did they not teach their kids how to act? Do they even know their kids are bullies? We teach our kids not to be bullies and what constitutes a bully. We teach our kids to stand up for each other.

  11. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    I think they have to. They learn this behavior somewhere and I assume it’s from their parents putting them down.

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