Is your child teasing other kids? Do you need some tips on what to do about it? Consider the following:
1. Help build their esteem. Most kids tease as a way of shielding their own insecurities. If they are not secure with themselves they try to make others feel the same way. It is like the old saying, “Misery loves company.” So, help your child learn to deal with their own esteem issues, and strengthen their esteem and build themselves up in healthy ways, not by tearing other kids down.
2. Encourage better development of social skills. Often kids who tease do not know other ways to interact with kids. If they want attention, or want to be part of the group, they may do or say something mean in order to get the focus turned to them. This is an unhealthy practice, but a common mistake. So, help your child learn how to make and keep friends in healthy ways. Help them learn how to interact socially so that they don’t need to turn to malicious teasing for attention.
3. Set the example in your home. A lot of kids who tease do so because that is how they see their family bonding and interacting at home. Many families tease on a regular basis. If your child is teasing other kids, maybe they are seeing too much teasing at home. Help them learn how to differentiate between hurtful teasing and playful. Most families tease playfully, but that does not always translate into playful teasing when used with friends. If your child does not get the difference they may be teasing with the best of intentions, and hurting kids all over the place.
4. Set rules about teasing. If your child is teasing a lot, sit them down, and let them know that you will not tolerate their behavior. Set consequences about teasing. If they tease they will have this consequence. If they tease kids who they have been told not to tease they will have that consequence. Leave no room for doubt as to what will happen if they tease. The fear of the punishment or grounding, or whatever the consequence is should ward them off of teasing, at least as much as they might be doing otherwise.
5. Keep them away from easy targets. Even as an adult there are likely people who you encounter who are just so hard NOT to tease. They may set themselves up for it, or just be easy targets. As an adult you probably have self-control that you have developed over several years. Kids may not have the same amount of self-control. So, don’t put them in situations where teasing is going to be natural and easy. Instead, avoid those situations, and kids who are easy targets.
Kids like to tease, so help them learn better ways to interact.