Has your child ever felt hurt by other children at school? Has your child been teased about appearance or ability? What about being left out or excluded from a lunch group or conversation? Does your child overreact to a peer’s facial expression, comment, or action? Our children’s social world includes teasing, and how our children deal with it affects how their peers view them.
Role of Victim
Teasing starts in elementary school where the role of victim is formed. A “victim” in this sense is defined as a child who gets tricked or teased often. This role can follow children throughout their school lives and needs to be stopped early on. I recently spoke at a Parent Teacher Association and one parent shared that her kindergarten daughter came home and cried because a peer had called her fat. Her mother became very emotional because it brought up her days of being ostracized at school. She hugged her and told her that she is beautiful and not to listen to this girl’s mean words. The teasing went on so her mom told the teacher. To intervene, the teacher had a class discussion on teasing and the students were told that teasing is not okay. However, the teasing persisted because the girl did not have the tools to stop it, and the mean words were said at recess or in the class when the teacher was with other students. The girl told the teacher every time she was being teased and she became the class tattletale. The teacher could only reprimand the teaser so much and ultimately it was ineffective. The other kids in the classroom began to see this girl as a “victim,” and they did not want to interact with her for fear of being teased themselves.
Changing the Role of Victim
Many children who come to my office have shared that they have been teased by a child or group of children. Some of the children have embraced a “victim” role, and even when they change schools, the teaser finds them. Children who do not have the tools to respond appropriately verbally and nonverbally are easily found by the teaser. In my office, we work on making a change to get rid of this victim role. I have had the honor of seeing many children move forward in their responses, attitudes, and feelings on teasing. Once removed from the “victim” role, they can help other children by standing next to them without fear when the teaser comes their way. Imagine a world at school where children help each other stop the teaser.
Let’s empower our children to feel their strength and goodness even in the midst of a teaser. Let’s help our children take the teaser’s power away.
Tips on Teasing
- Talk about teasing with your child
- Understand that teasing happens
- Know it is the teaser’s bad day, do not own it
- Ignore, walk away, and/or answer with a comeback
- Memorize a few comebacks with your child: “You wish,” “Right back at you,” “So!”
- Practice comebacks using eye contact, straight body posture, and strong tone of voice
- Have your child embrace his/her great traits to keep strong when mean words are used
- Do not follow silly requests: go tell ____, I said ____. It may be a trick