Most parents get very upset when they find out that their child is being teased at school. And it might even remind you of when you were in elementary school.
If you grew up in a family who told you that you shouldn’t respond to being teased, it’s probably even more distressing for you. Because you were never taught the skills of how to verbally stand up for yourself.
But there’s tons of different ways that you can help your child have a better experience if they’re getting teased at school, camp or wherever they go.
1. Getting teased in elementary school is pretty much a given
I have received thousands of emails from parents and children about getting teased or picked on at school. And I want you to know that every child gets picked on at some point in time. And it would be very unlikely that your child will make it all the way to grade 12 without getting teased.
When your child expects to get teased at some point, then when it happens, it isn’t such a shock.
Ask your child to come to you if they’re getting teased and let them know that you’ll help them come up with some ways to handle the situation.
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2. Don’t look at teasing with a victim mentality
A lot of times teasing isn’t personal. Sometimes it is, but a lot of times kids are just roaming the playground looking for someone to see who they can get a reaction out of. They’re just looking for potential targets.
Make sure that your child knows that they’re not alone. Every child is going to go through getting teased at some point in time. And when we realize that it isn’t personal, it’s just something kids do. It’s a little easier to process and to handle.
A mother who I will call, Caitlyn,was beside herself because her child was being bullied when in fact, it was just simple teasing on the playground. But she made it such a big deal. She made her son feel like a victim. And that he was a victim of bullying when it was simple teasing, she could have made it not a big deal and taught him how to respond and he would have been much better off.
3. Bullies are trying to trigger people
When bullies see a reactive kid, they’re like, Wow, perfect target. The bully is looking for how your child responds to being teased. So tell your child not to overreact when someone is trying to trigger them, let it roll off their back.
Tell your child not to looked shocked or show a physical reaction when someone is trying to wind them up. If your child gets upset, the bully will probably continue
4. Allow banter and some fun teasing at home
You can tell kids whose parents don’t joke around or have any fun or teased at home, because when it happens to them at school, they’re absolutely shocked and flabbergasted.
And there’s a blogger who I really, really respect. And she demands absolute respect at home with her children. And I can see why she wants that. And I think it’s an admirable goal. But one of her rules is no teasing. And if the older kids tease, they’re sent to bed with no dinner for the night. And it’s to teach respect.
Well, that’s all fine but her daughter is going to be a perfect target when she goes to school because she’s never been in a situation where there’s teasing and she’s not going to know how to handle it compared to someone who’s used to fun and banter at home.
In our house we tease and we joke around all the time. It’s not malicious. It’s just in a fun way with wit and humour. And I’ve trained my kids that when somebody picks on them, it just bounces off their back and to say something fun back, preferably with humour. And usually when you have quick wit or you have a really clever comeback or reply, it just sort of stops the bully in their tracks because it’s not what they’re expecting.
And bullies like to pick on people who are going to make them look foolish. So they’re not they don’t want people who are clever with the replies because that’s not an easy target. That’s a lot of hard work. So allow fun banter at home.
5. Understand that as kids get older and they become teenagers, they will razz and tease their friends
A teenager was telling me a funny story the other day and he was saying that to one of his friends. They could throw pinecones at him and he would still be standing. I asked what does that even mean? And he said that they just teased him so much and it just rolls off his friend’s back, he doesn’t have a care in the world.
And because he doesn’t over react he doesn’t get wound up even more. And that’s a great way to handle it. Because your friend group who loves you will be teasing you and your child needs to be prepared for that.
One girl, I’ll call her Jojo was the only child and she didn’t experience teasing in her household. It was just her and her mom. And she had a friend’s make a joke that she was dating this boy, and obviously, he wouldn’t have been her type.
But they just kept teasing her and winding her up. And a normal person would have laughed it off and said, Yeah, right. Oh, yeah, I just liked him so much have said something silly. But she just started sending direct messages to all of her friends saying. “Don’t you say this about me!” And how dare you embarrass me!
And she had just really were not developed muscle in the area where it comes to friends just joking around or having fun. And she didn’t know how to respond. And she didn’t know how to handle the situation, as a lot of people at her age group would have.
Know that this is coming down the pipeline with friend groups. So when your child is that age, and the friend group is teasing, and it’s not malicious, expected and understand it’s just part of being a teenager. And this is very different from malicious, hateful speech. This is just joking around.
6. Set yourself up for success by teaching your children verbal self defense to deal with teasing
Now, I have to tell you, running a large verbal self defense website, I didn’t even realize that I would have to teach my children verbal self defense in advance. One of my kids was getting picked on and it escalated because of a covert highly manipulative bully. And if I had taught him some skills, we could have avoided a big part of the problem would it have happened, I can’t say, right. What I did after the bullying is I taught my son techniques that I teach my students in verbal self defense, and that’s what to say how to say it, and how to respond and how to be prepared, and shut down a bully in any situation.
And I think it’s one of the best things that parents can do, because it is a given, you’re going to get picked on at some point in time. And it just brings unbelievable confidence. And you know, people like people who don’t respond.
So when your child knows what to say, there’s a pretty good chance, it’s not going to get worse, and escalate. And of course, there’s always the exception. But I think it’s the best investment parents can make to bullyproof their kids is teach them verbal self defense. And the other benefit of it is it’s really quick. You can do it in an hour and a half with our system. And it’s a skill that lasts a lifetime.
A lot of people that buy my products are like middle aged people who’ve never been taught this skill, and it leads to years of frustration. So learning it at a young age is such a blessing. You do your kid a huge, huge favor.
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7. Teasing is a mental confidence game
So you want your kids to show up with unbelievable confidence. And the way you bully proof is you prepare children for events. So you tell them they’re going to be teased to tell them how to handle it. And they just show up with confidence and they know what to expect when things happen at school and they have a much better reaction than the kid who isn’t prepared. If you need a little bit of help bulletproofing your child I’ll include a link to our free workshop below. But just know there are a lot of things that parents can do to help their kids and to help them have a much better experience.
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- 5 Ways to help your child handle teasing at school
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- Why does my child get teased by the kids at school?
- Turning a bullying situation around for your child
- More clever comebacks that help with teasing