Playing Defense to Bullying
Teasing can make a kid feel like a loser. You’re NOT a loser. Here are 10 ways to make teasing stop:
Use Self-Talk – Think about what you can say to yourself when you’re being teased. This should include reminding yourself about not reacting with anger, tears, or other emotions because they typically prolong the teasing.
Ask yourself, “Is the teasing true?” Often it’s not.
Also yourself, “Whose opinion is more important the teaser’s or mine?”
Say to yourself, “Even though I don’t like the teasing, I am going to
Ignoring – Anger and tears often invite more teasing. Ignoring, although it’s really hard, can be a powerful tool. Don’t look at the teaser or respond. Pretend the teaser is invisible and act as if nothing has happened. If possible, walk away and join other children. This may take a lot of practice, but it CAN work.
Role-play this with your parents.
Use I-Messages – There are assertive ways for you to express how you feel, what’s making you feel that way, and what you would like to change.
Make eye contact, speak clearly, and politely. Say things such as,
“I feel upset when you tease me about my glasses and I would like you to stop.”
This is often most effective when used in a structured and supervised situation, such as a classroom. If used while unsupervised it may lead to more teasing because it shows the person who’s teased is upset. This is an easy skill for you to learn.
Visualization – Is seeing the teasing words bouncing off of the teasers. It gives you a concrete image of rejecting what the teaser is saying. You can also pretend you have a protective shield on that deflects teasing and bad words.
Reframing – This allows you to change a tease into a compliment. If they’re teasing you about having 4 eyes with glasses you could say, “Thanks for noticing my glasses.”
Or you could say, “What a great put down.” “Thanks for your opinion.” It kind of takes the tease out of it. You need practice and rehearsal to feel comfortable doing this. Brainstorm to develop more ideas that you think might work.
Agreeing with the teaser – “Yes, I do have a lot of freckles.” Yes, I do cry easily.”
“So?” – This tells teaser that the put down doesn’t matter. Teasers don’t know how to respond to this.
Complimenting – Respond to the tease with a compliment, with eye contact, and with the appearance of being confidant. For instance, if you’re being teased about being a slow runner, you could say,
“You’re a great runner, I’m glad I’m on your team.”
Or if you’re teased about wearing braces, “You have beautiful teeth.”
It can help to surprise the teaser and make it hard for them to continue after receiving a compliment.
Humor – “That’s so funny, you make me laugh.”
Asking for help – Reporting is not tattling. Reporting is when a child tells an adult about repeated behavior that hurts someone.
Tattling is when one child tries to get another child in trouble for doing something insignificant or unimportant.
Adopted from: Judy Freedman, LCSW in Chicago Parent (Lake/McHenry) March 2000 Social Worker at Prairie School in Buffalo Grove. Has “Easing the Teasing” curriculum.