Teasing is a human social exchange that can be perceived as friendly, neutral or negative. The goal of teasing should be to create closer relationships and make connections. Pro-social teasing helps to satisfy a fundamental human motivation – to be an integral part of a group. It has its benefits: teasing can be playful, help promote social affirmations, allow people to better deal with awkward situations, and help to bring both the teaser and the person being teased closer together. Teasing turns into bullying when kids use it to gain greater social status, or when intent of what is said or done is to harm. The best way to learn how to deal with teasing is to better understand it. Here are a few Tips
- Teach your child how to tease and accept teasing through body language, laughter, and sarcasm, so that they can see the difference between a serious and joking interaction
- Define the differences between teasing and bullying with your child: Teasing creates stronger relationships while bullying damages relationships. Teasing adds to your character as a person while bullying takes away from your character. Teasing occurs between equals (age, power, intelligence, friendships) while bullying occurs between people who are unequal. Teasing maintains dignity or respect toward a person while bullying is done to embarrass or hurt the feelings of a person. Teasing may include harmless nicknames that the target also thinks are funny. Calling a target names that are derogatory or directed at his or her religion, ethnicity, speech, appearance, etc. is bullying.
- Listen to your child without disagreement. If you child tells you that one of her classmates said her clothes are ugly – dob’t jump in and reassure the child that her clothes are beautiful. If you do that, you infer to your child that she has been victimized, instead listen carefully to what your child is telling you, and then work with her to come up with a plan to address this situation the next time it happens.
Teach your child how to respond when teasing turns into bullying:
- Remain calm but serious
- Assertively ask the person to stop the bullying behavior.
- If the behavior does not stop, ignore the person or remove yourself from the situation.
- If the behavior stops, hank the other person for stopping and explain how the behavior made you feel.
- Report continued bullying or hazing to an adult at school and an adult at home that you can trust. If you don’t want to tell them in person, write them a note. Signing your name on the note can be optional.