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Dealing with the Chronic Teaser

Too Much Teasing!

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Dealing effectively with children who tease.
Behavior Description

This child constantly teases and pokes fun at others and is often seen as picking on them. Teasing is actually another form of critisizing and harassment, the child who teases is usually 'putting others down'. Unfortunately, it's the child with special needs that is often getting the brunt of teasing. Ironically, it's often the child with a behavior disorder that is doing the teasing.

Why?

At some point most children have taken part in teasing. Some tease because the one being teased is just different and the teaser doesn't understand those differences. Others tease because they take pleasure in poking fun and it's a quick way to get attention. Sometimes the child who teases just likes to hurt others and if they get the response they're looking for, they'll continue to tease that much more. Usually the teaser has a lower self-esteem, or is someone that has been picked on him/herself. Some children tease out of sheer ignorance. It must be noted however, that a certain amount of teasing can help children build strategies and become stronger socially. Both teachers and parents can help children to use effective strategies to deal with teasing, learning to ignore is often a good strategy.

Interventions

  • The teaser needs to be taught that he is hurting others. This can be accomplished through some role playing.
  • The teaser needs to be taught about difference among children, why a child may studder or why a child looks different, or why a child has a limp etc.
  • It's important to find out why the teaser teases and educate the child about the harmful consequences.
  • Children also need to be taught what to do in the event that they witness teasing. Teasing need not be tolerated.
  • Teach the skills for dealing with the teaser (ignoring, finding a better friend to play with, don't over react, teach the child that's being teased that they 'can handle it'.
  • The teaser needs to know that teasing will not be accepted and will not be tolerated in the classroom.
  • Teach the child that is getting teased to provide the teaser with a response they're not expecting. For instance, if they're being teased about their glasses or a piece of clothing, have them say "Thanks, I quite like them too", and ask them to walk away.
  • Children need to be part of the solution and or consequences. Ask them what they are prepared to give or do as a result of the hurt they've cause through teasing.
  • Remind the child that you're upset with what he/she did. Reinforce that it's not the child but what he/she did that upset you and let him/her know that you are disappointed. You know the saying - bring them up before you bring them down. For instance: "It is so unlike you to tease XXXX about his/her glasses."
  • Praise the teaser for positive interactions, this will help his/her self-esteem and hopefully reduce the amount of teasing he/she embarks on.
  • Avoid lectures and quick irrational decisions. E.g., if you tease again, you'll be suspended!"

    Try this printable (PDF) 'Problem Solving Model'

    Never forget that ALL children need to know you care about them and that they can contribute in a positive way. It took the child a long time to become a master of distorting the truth, exagerating, lying chronically, be consistent, patient and understand that change will take time.

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