Parent Talk: What To Do About Teasing

For 5 years, I’ve been sitting here in my cozy little suburban town enjoying the endless magic and innocence of childhood. But it turns out not too long ago we entered Teasing Town. I’m a little frustrated we’ve arrived so soon. Damn that kindergarten. Teaching our children words have power. 🙂


During a neighborhood Halloween party, my Caroline alerted us one of the boys calls her a name on the bus during the trip to school. She didn’t want to go near him, understandably. My blood pressure elevated and then I remembered to breathe. I told her I was sorry he wasn’t being nice and it was okay not to be near him today or ever. She seemed satisfied and went off (away from him) and enjoyed the party.

Until he found her, called her the name and she came running up to me to tell me what he had done. GRRRR… momma bear was starting to come out. Papa Bear said to ignore him and enjoy the party.

I informed Papa Bear ignoring it never works. And I’m speaking from experience.

Here’s my new and improved (a.k.a first ever created) plan of attack to help nip teasing in the bud:

  1. Empathize. Let her know you know her pain. “It hurts your feelings when _____ calls you that name, doesn’t it?” Also encourage her to spend more time with her friends and other people who make her feel good.
  2. Coach. Talk to her about controlling her reaction. I’m a firm believer in being firm, assertive and clear. If he calls her this name, say “I don’t like to be called names. I’m going to play with someone else today.” You could also get her to change the narrative. Maybe she could compliment the teaser – she could say “I really like your backpack. I like Wonder Woman! Your backpack is Spiderman!”
  3. Teach. Explain it’s okay to ask for help, if necessary. It’s good to know she can count on us and came to tell us when she was being teased, especially if it’s relentless. But let her know she can tell any trusted adult – a teacher, grandparent, uncle.
  4. Practice What You Preach. As adults, we know some affectionate teasing is all in good fun, but teasing has limits. Make sure you don’t joke about things your child is struggling with or nervous about. It will only shame her. Never be harsh. No name calling or snickering allowed. Our kids are growing up, there will be a time even just calling them “sweetie” or “cutie face” will embarrass them in public or in front of their friends.

Has your child experienced a problem with teasing? What did you to do help them through it?