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How to Tackle Teasing

What to do when your child is being persistently teased

A parent has to walk a fine line here: You want to take your child's complaints about teasing seriously, but you don't want him or her to become a tattletale or a perpetual victim. One school psychologist said that if a child is trying to get another child in trouble, that's tattling. If the intent is to seek help for repeated teasing, it's not only appropriate but necessary to seek adult intervention.

The good news? Michael Thompson, a psychologist and co-author of Mom, They're Teasing Me, says, "If your child pours out a tale of woe and then runs out to play, you can see their resilience at work."

Other tips:
  • Acknowledge that it's hard for kids to simply ignore teasers.
  • Tell your child stories of when you were teased, to give him or her a sense that teasing is universal and surmountable.
  • Avoid the temptation to cast teasers as bad guys. Instead, help kids to think about why teasers behave the way they do. Is it the only way they know to get attention? Kids can even ask teasers why they're acting this way, which may cause the teasers to examine — and eventually change — their behavior.
  • Ask the teachers or other adults how they are teaching kids acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and encouraging compassion among the children.
  • A key to shrugging off teasers lies in children's own self-confidence, which comes not from being told to be confident, but from actual successes kids accumulate as they grow up.

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