Vol. 6, No. 2 May 2002
power: Helping children cope with teasing
When a child
experiences teasing, it is important to see the problem from the childs
point of view. Sit down and listen attentively to your child in a non-judgemental
way. Ask your child to describe the teasing. Where is it happening?
Who is the teaser? Understand and validate your childs feelings.
It might be helpful to relate your own experience of teasing as a child.
The following strategies may help:
- Do not overreact. A parents
overreaction can result in a child overreacting.
- Convey the message: You
can handle it.
- Encourage children to
be with children who make them feel good, not bad.
- Review your own behaviordo
you tease your children inappropriately?
cannot be eliminated, and children cannot control what others say. However,
they can learn to control their own actions. Parents can teach simple
strategies that will empower children and reduce feelings of helplessness.
When children realize that there are effective strategies to use in
teasing situations, they will cope more easily.
Encourage children to think about what they can say to themselves when
they are in a teasing situation. A child could say to himself, Even
though I dont like this, I can handle it. A child should
ask himself, Is the tease true? Often it is not. Another
important question is, Whose opinion is more important, the teasers
or mine? It is also helpful for the teased child to think about
her positive qualities to counteract the negative remarks.
Displays of anger or tears often invite more teasing. Therefore, it
is often effective to ignore the teaser. Parents can role play ignoring
with their children and praise children for their excellent acting.
It should be noted that ignoring may not be effective in prolonged teasing
Many young children respond well to visualizing words bouncing
off them. This provides them with the image of not having to accept
or believe what is said. Another effective visualization is for a child
to pretend he has a shield around him that helps the teases and bad
words bounce off.
Reframing is turning the teasing into a compliment. For example, a child
being teased about her glasses could respond politely, Thanks
for noticing my glasses.
with the facts. A teaser may say, You are such a baby!
The teased child can answer, I do cry easily. Agreeing with
the facts usually eliminates the feeling of wanting to hide whatever
the child is being teased about.
So? The response of, So? to the teasing conveys indifference
and sends the message that the tease doesnt matter.
to the tease with a compliment. For example, if a child is teased
about the way he runs, he can answer, You are a fast runner.
Humor shows that little importance is placed on the put-downs or mean
remarks. Laughing can often turn a hurtful situation into a funny one.
help. At times, it is necessary for a child to seek adult assistance
or intervention if the teaser is persistent.
help your children understand that sometimes teasing cant be prevented
and that they cant control what others say. However, they can
learn to control their own responses and reactions, which will ease
from Freedman, Judy S. (1999, Spring). Easing the teasing: How parents
can help their kids cope. Early Childhood, pp. 1, 4. Ms. Freedman
is a licensed clinical social worker at Prairie Elementary School in
Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Her book, Easing the Teasing: Helping Kids
Cope With Name-calling, Ridicule, and Verbal Bullying, will be published
by Contemporary Books, a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, in September
2002. Her e-mail address is [email protected]
and her website is www.easingtheteasing.com.
2002 Jordan Institute for Families