Help your grade-schooler understand why children tease, and practice strategies to deal with it. These strategies include staying calm, walking away or responding in an unexpected manner, such as agreeing with the facts, complimenting the teaser for his keen observation skills or making a joke.
The strategies your child develops should be based on his social strengths and weaknesses. For example, if your child is good with humor, then run with that. If humor isn’t one of his strong suits, a polite “Thank you for noticing” is likely to throw the teaser off guard as your child walks away.
Also, talk to your child about bullying. Emphasize that if your child is being teased a lot, he can always come to you or to another trusted adult for help.
What you can say
“Jacob, there are different kinds of teasing. Sometimes it’s meant to be playful and sometimes it’s meant to be hurtful. Why do you think Nick is saying these things to you? I agree—it’s a little hard to tell if he wants to be your friend or if he just wants to make you feel bad.”
“Some kids tease as a way of joking around and being friendly. Some kids tease in a mean way because it makes them feel powerful to put other people down. Some kids do it because they think it will make them look cool.”
“The next time Nick teases you about your freckles, maybe you could respond by saying, ‘Yes, I do have freckles. Thank you for noticing.’ Or you could just say ‘So?’ and walk away. If you look like his words are bouncing off you, it might get him to stop teasing you.”
Why this will help
Practicing different strategies for dealing with difficult situations can help your child develop confidence and resiliency. Helping your child understand why kids tease can make him feel better about himself and not internalize the teasing. It’s also important to keep reminding your child that you’re available to help if the teasing gets worse.