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  • Teasing: How you and your Child can Effectively Handle it

    Getting teased by your peers is no laughing matter, especially when it involves little kids. Here's how to get them to stop.
    by Julian Vorpal .
Teasing: How you and your Child can Effectively Handle it
PHOTO BY videoblocks.com
  • As children grow and learn to deal with others, they learn major and minor aspects of human relationships and all that is good and bad about them. The schoolyard and the playground are melting pots for kids of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. There will be teasing and there is no way to prevent it, but it would help you and your child immensely if you understood why and how to deal with it. 

    Why children tease
    1. A need for attention
    For many kids, there is no fate more horrible than to be completely disregarded. Teasing generates attention, whether for good or ill, and for them, negative attention is better than no attention at all.

    2. Play
    Teasing is considered an act of playfulness, whether it’s kantsawan or kariño brutal. Kids call each other names or make fun of each other because they get a kick out of it. They don’t mean to do harm, but it can go overboard if not given brakes.

    3. Acceptance by the ‘cool’ kids
    If is the ‘cool’ kids are poking fun at the child with a flatulence problem, then they feel they should too, because they don’t want to be thought of as not part of the “in” crowd.  This is even more pronounced of children who see other older kids or siblings doing it.  Teasing then becomes perceived as a sign of maturity and the older you are, the more right you have to indulge in it.

    (Related story: 8 Reasons Kids Fake being Sick (and Avoid School))


    4. Not understanding the differences of others
    Children won’t immediately understand why the neighbor’s kid wears two inch thick glasses or their 2nd grade classmate walks with a limp. What some children will see are subjects for their amusement. This is especially true for kids who encounter unusual religious or ethnically diverse social situations for the first time.

    5. Hurt feelings
    Children who have a penchant for teasing others feel inferior themselves, and they may desire the feeling of power they experience from a well-placed put-down. This is also true for children who are subject to constant emotional difficulty and stress. Those who tease are lashing out, unconsciously expressing their own rage, fears and unhappiness.

    How children can cope
    Here are some effective coping mechanisms your child can use as positive weapons against teasing:

    1. Practice the mantra of "So?"
    If your child is not interested in dignifying her tormentor’s taunts, she can simply tell the teaser, “So?” as often as she likes. This conveys indifference to the teaser that renders his insults and jeering useless. Many children find this brief response very effective.

    2. Reverse the situation.
    You can teach your child to turn all the hurled insults into a compliment or a statement of fact. This may require careful thought and practice but it can be very rewarding if done properly. A teaser can make fun of a child’s ears being large – ‘Elephant ears! Elephant ears!’ Your child could confidently respond with, "All the better to hear you with!" This can confuse the teaser, who may have been expecting a reaction of rage or frustration. Agreeing with the teaser also helps - it eliminates the feeling of wanting to hide the object of teasing, whether it’s having a round face, a flat nose or another unusual feature.

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    (Related story: Help your Child Deal with Classmates who Tease)

    3. Teach him to laugh at himself.
    Using humor against a hurtful situation can turn the tables on teasing and benefit your child’s social standing in the pecking order of the social jungle that schools can be. It also shows confidence and can ultimately sway other children to your child’s side. It requires a lot of self-control and practice, but by making light of teasing with comedy, it shows that the name-calling and wisecracks are of little consequence to your child’s self-worth. Eventually, she’ll learn to believe it.   

    4. Retort with a compliment.
    Responding with a compliment can diffuse anger and create confusion in a taunting child.  For example, if other kids make fun of the way your child plays basketball, he can reply, "Well, you’re pretty good, yourself."

    5. Seek aid.
    There are children out there who may not be willing or able to stop harassing your child, no matter what he or she does or says. When all else fails, they should ask an adult to help out and should not be stigmatized for ‘tattling’.

    Parents should take these things into consideration when dealing with a child who has had to endure a lot of teasing:

    1. Empathize.
    Remember what it was like when you were his or her age and the insults wouldn’t stop? Share with your child your stories of how it was like when you were growing up. It will give your child a sense of understanding that teasing is universal and can be overcome.

    2. Don’t go down to the teaser’s level.
    Try not to cast teasers as the villains. Help your child understand why teasers behave the way they do. Is it the only way they know to get others to notice them? Is it because they’re insecure about their own appearance or feelings? Children can even positively confront teasers about why they act that way, which may cause some to examine, and possibly change their behavior towards the subject of their aggression.

    3. Be realistic.
    Try to show your child that you understand how hard it is for a kid to simply ignore all the insults. Remember that very few children rarely come to the kind of realizations that adults do on their own while they’re young. In dealing with people, sometimes it takes a lot of research and experience.

    4. Nurture your child’s confidence.
    Confident kids can shrug off teasing like water off a duck’s back. This doesn’t come about by simply being told to be confident or with coddling – this comes from the personal victories kids acquire as they go through life. Give them the chance to develop themselves by finding their strengths and encouraging their positive pursuits. Be it badminton, ballet or beatboxing, a child who excels at something she likes will have greater self-esteem which will not only help against teasing, but will also lead to other avenues of success as well.

    5. Analyze your child’s environment.
    Is there something amiss in the school or playground? Ask the teachers or other adults involved with your child as to how they are teaching kids what is acceptable and what is not. Some environments may promote turning a blind eye to teasing or, worse, encourage it. It then becomes a question of whether anything can be done. Either the environment changes, or you change things by taking your child out of that environment.

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