halie ellis [ Coast Mountain Mama ]

Breaking the Cycle of Teasing

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee that the information in this post will work or that it is appropriate for the usage of all readers.

During a workshop I attended, led by Kim John Payne, he reports studies that have shown the impact of subtle non inclusion (teasing, gossiping, name calling) being a significantly larger issue amongst children than any other form of bullying. In this post, I will highlight a few really great strategies Kim provided on how to keep potentially difficult situations from escalating.

His first words of advice were, NEVER tell a child to ignore the person targeting them. Empathize with the child and ask them why they believe this is happening. “Sorry this is happening to you, it really doesn’t feel good to be teased. Why do you think this is happening?”

Next, give your perspective on why the child might be the victim of teasing. “Can I tell you something about teases? Teasers like to be the boss of you, they like knowing they can make you upset or cry.”

Once you have given your perspective, ask the child about the way they reacted to the situation. Chances are the child ignored the situation or was very explosive. As well, ask the child how it went and why they think it may not be working. “Did that work?” “Why not?”

At this point, it’s time to be honest with the child. “It’s not about your glasses or that you are shy. It’s not because you are fat, tall, ugly. It’s about them wanting to be the boss of you, don’t let them.” Most importantly, be sure the child knows it is not their fault. “It is NOT your fault, but I may be able to help you make it better!”

Now is where the ground work comes in! In complete confidence, you will need to help the child come up with some creative strategies. It sounds absurd, but Kim proposes that you set it up like you and the child are rehearsing lines from a play. Collaborate and come up with some lines the “teaser” may say and come up with some firm responses the child can use for various teases. Before you begin, tell the child to firmly but calmly stand their ground. Literally, stand in front of the person teasing them and don’t back down.

Here is an example of a script for a child with glasses being called four eyes, standing her ground. You be the teaser!

Teaser: “Hey, four eyes.”
Victim: “Four eyes are better than one.”
Teaser: “Whatever, four eyes.”
Victim: “Four eyes are better than one.”
Teaser: “You are an idiot.”
Victim: “You can say that, no one will stop you.”
Teaser: “I’m gonna knock you to the ground.”
Victim: “You can say that, but if you do it I’ll get the teacher.”
Teaser: “Tattle tale”
Victim: “Yup, but not unless you touch me.”
Teaser: “Whatever, idiot.”
Victim: “You can say that, no one is going to stop you.”

Prepare the child for the inevitable as the teasing can get worse before it gets better. It may happen a few more times, but with a support system from a parent and teacher this should really prove a point. In the least it can help the child move from feeling isolated to building friendships.

Apparently, complimenting the other child in question can also deter a child from getting teased. If applicable, come up with some creative compliments for the bully. Practice them with the child.

An example of a child playing baseball who is really good, telling a boy that he sucks.

Teaser: “ You suck!”
Victim: “I know, you are so awesome, can you teach me?”

Stumped! This may also foster some type of camaraderie.

Research has shown that victims of bullying often become bullies themselves. With that in mind, shouldn’t we try directing our attention away from the bullying and redirecting it toward the victims? It seems logical that empowering the victims will have far more success at perpetuating positive change.

For other posts regarding bullying visit these links on my site. “Social Inclusion – Providing Justice Without Blame” and “How to Raise a Resilient Child

November 11, 2012 | Filed under Behavior, Blog, Wolfgang.

One Response to Breaking the Cycle of Teasing

  1. Pingback: halie ellis » Archive » Perspective Taking

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I am an incredibly fortunate stay-at-home mommy, who has decided to share her passion for children’s learning online. (read more)
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