Dealing With Teasers and Bullies
For many parents of young children with special needs, the subject of teasing can be a very sensitive issue. They know and accept that it might happen to their child; however, they may not know how often it will happen or what form it will take.
Parents often wonder if their children will be called names, laughed at or have jokes played on them. It's not only the possibility of teasing that is frightening, but also whether or not they have the ability to help their child deal with it.
Generally, children tease because they lack self-esteem, and teasing someone makes them feel superior. Children may tease to amuse their friends and to make them laugh. Many times, a bully will tease only when his or her friends are around.
Usually the person who gets teased is different in some aspect: He or she wears different clothes than everyone else, has a birth defect, may be poor, stutters, appears shy or lacks confidence.
Tips to Tackle Teasing:
The best way to deal with teasing is for the parents and child to be positive and direct. If you have a child with special needs, here are 10 methods to handle teasing:
- Depending on your child's age and how she feels, the teacher or you can give a presentation about your child's special needs. Many people feel if a presentation is given, the child's classmates are less likely to tease because they are informed. It gives the classmates a chance to ask all the questions they want and to express their curiosity or fears about what they don't know about the subject.
- Depending on your child's age, meet with your child's school principal and teacher, and discuss how the school handles teasing. Let them know they should notify you if it happens to your child.
- Practice what you might say to your child in a number of situations. For example, what will you say to your child if she tells you she was pushed and called an ugly name?
- Talk to other parents of children with the same special needs as your child and who have experience with teasing.
- Read books about teasing, such as For the Love of Jody (Capture Technical Writing Svc., 2002). Look for them at your local library or Amazon.com.
- Contact organizations that have materials on teasing and can provide support.
- If your child does get teased, ensure she understands that there's nothing wrong with her and discuss why kids tease.
- Ask your child how she wants to approach teasing. Work out a plan with your child to decide when Mom or Dad and/or the school officials should be involved.
- Seek counseling for your child or yourself. Don't feel embarrassed if you need to ask for help.
- Allow yourself to cry. Crying is a good way of releasing negative energy.
Teasing can be very painful to the child and the parents. There are many solutions, and each family will handle teasing in its own unique way. The most important things to keep in mind are that you'll realize what solutions are best for you and your child and that your parenting instincts will guide you.