Unfortunately, regardless of age or grade, kids tease other kids for many reasons; reasons such as:
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- Appearance
- Abilities
- Identity
- Behaviors
- Feelings
- Friends
among others.

We can't control what kids say, but we CAN control how we react to what kids say. We cannot prevent kids from teasing others but we CAN teach kids to be able to use coping skills to deal with teasing when it happens to them. Coping skills change depending on situations and developmental age and maturation of kids. At the start of a new school year, students may look ready for school with a new backpack, clothing, and new notebooks - but are they ready to deal with the hurt and saddness that may arise and result from teasing? Most kids can deal with teasing on their own with the right tools in place and the confidence to know when something is said to get a reaction out of the teasee.

The first sign of a child being teased should be a cue to start boosting a child's self-esteem. Many children who allow teasing to happen to them do not have high self-esteem. If they did, they would stand up for themselves when teasing occurs and realize that everyone has strenghts and weaknesses. Children with low self-esteem may even start to believe what the teaser is saying!
  • Children who have low self-esteem just don't feel good about themselves. This may be demonstrated either at school, at home, or both. Clues to a child having a low self-esteem include: difficulty making decisions, lack of confidence about almost anything, difficulties in peer interactions or independent work, hesitant toward risk-taking and/or frequent physical complaints.

Children need to be taught that they have more power than they believe and that NO ONE deserves to be treated disrespectfully, including themselves! The continuation of teasing may occur simply because of the reaction of the child who is being teased; which if it is a negative reaction (exactly what the teaser wants to occur), then they are adding more fuel to their own fire, unfortunately.
  • Boost your child's self-esteem by giving them more responsibility - and noticing what a great job their doing with that responsibility! Teach your child that it's okay not to be the very best at everything; they're not going to be good at things even a parent is great at which is hard to accept - but support their interests, regardless of what they are. Parents often try to protect their children from all the harm of the world but it can often send "the child the message that he cannot fend for himself, which contributes to low self-esteem".
  • "One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is a chance to feel better about themselves".
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Why do children tease others?
  • Some do it to get revenge or to express anger or hurt from something that may not even be school-related. They may tease because they are jealous of others or because they simply need attention from someone, anyone. A teaser may not have good social skills and can't relate to others in appropriate ways. Sometimes, a teaser may find that teasing is a way that they could feel good about themselves - especially if their teasing causes a positive reaction from other students in the class. ***These are not listed to be excuses for a child to tease another, but it is common that teasing arises from something other than a child just being downright mean because they simply want to be. Many environmental factors need to be taken into consideration when trying to get to the bottom of a teasing situation.
There are many ways to react to teasing but only one way will help it stop! Be Assertive!
Assertive students stand up for themselves and realized that they need to be respected just as much as they respect others. They know they don't deserve the teasing and have a great self-esteem. This is where we wish ALL kids were with their reactions to teasing. Look at the 3 ways to react to a teasing situation and the answer will be clear!

external image 433227-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-An-Aggressive-Cartoon-Businessman-Jumping.jpg AGGRESSIVE - will hurt others or fight, hit, push, stomp around, scream, hell, call people names

external image 0511-0707-3113-5341.jpg PASSIVE - slouches with head down, no eye contact, talks softly and often looks scared, apologizes too often

external image school-girl.jpg ASSERTIVE
- sees themselves as important as others, smiles, is very nice. Looks people in the eye and tries to solve problems, sometimes by compromising. Uses manners and doesn't hurt others.

external image gold-star-graphic.jpgWhat are some things parents can do? Look at this great website for some simple ideas! http://gradmarose.com/simonnotetoparents.htm

***Please remember, children learn much by observing adults, especially the adults closest to them in their lives (parents, teachers, guardians, family members, etc.). How do you handle conflicts? How do YOU react when you're driving and someone yells at you; what do YOU do when someone in the store directs a cruel comment toward you? Since actions speak louder than workds, make sure you act appropriately to other people's negaitive behavior!

Resources: Freedman, Judy S., M.S.W., L.C.S.W., (2002), "Easing the Teasing"
"Simon's Hook: A Story about Teases and Put-Downs" written by Karen Gedig Burnett external image simons-hook.jpg