Teasing or being teased has always been an inevitable part of one’s childhood journey. In a milder form, it is often considered to be a form of playful social exchange and can help promote acceptance and humility. It also helps children adapt to constructive criticism. However, not all teasing is friendly, and it can often have harmful consequences. Hence, it is pertinent that parents identify the signs of bullying and take necessary steps to bully-proof children.
How can you help?
One of the key methodologies to help your child cope with teasing is to understand his/her perspective. It is also important to establish communication with children to show them that you stand by them. In the meantime, it is also good to teach them simple techniques that will empower them and prevent feelings of helplessness.
One such technique, called the PZW technique – Play it cool, Zip the lip, and Walk away provides children a coping tool by giving them a clear behavioral plan that is focused on increasing their control of the situation. This technique requires the child to:
- Play it cool: The child is trained by family and teachers to take careful control of his/her own facial expressions and body posture and present a completely relaxed and non-agitative appearance.
- Zip the lip: The child consciously learns not to respond with any verbally aggressive language.
- Walk away: The child is also taught mental imagery or distraction techniques that help him/her walk away from the altercation.
Initially, the teasers respond by an increased frequency of teasing as they are surprised and often taken aback by the change in attitude. However, the inability to elicit any response soon persuades them to give up teasing.
Watch out for warning signs
Teasing that is repetitive, hostile, or violent may need to be dealt with differently. As parents, it is also important to keep a lookout for signs of violence, inappropriate touching, or physical contact. It is also imperative to see if the teasing is affecting physical or mental health, academic performance, or hurting the child’s self-esteem. In such extreme cases, the correct course of action is to work closely with teachers and administrators to put an end to the harassment.