Don't ignore childhood complaints of teasing

 

Last updated 6/6/2019 at 1:30pm



Teasing happens with children of all ages. It may be seemingly innocent name-calling, or more serious harassment and ridicule, but whatever the level it can be painful and psychologically damaging.

Recognizing and dealing with negative interactions between children, such as teasing and bullying, is an increasing area of focus for most schools today. It is especially true as social media has provided new and far-reaching means for children to shame other children.

But bullying doesn’t end with the school year. It’s important for parents to pay attention to situations in which their child may experience teasing or bullying. Studies find that children who are repeatedly teased may end up suffering from depression, anxiety and sleep problems. They are more likely to skip school or underperform in classes, and in severe cases, they can suffer from serious emotional and psychological issues.

When a child lets a parent know, directly or indirectly, that they are being teased and harassed by one or more other students, it’s important not to ignore or downplay the incident. The answer is not to confront the bully or to offer advice to just ignore the teasing. Confrontations often make things worse and advice to ignore the bullying tells the child that the parent doesn’t understand the pain being felt and may keep them from sharing future experiences and problems.


Experts advise letting the child know that their parent understands that what has upset them is just as serious a problem to them. Ask the child to explain what has happened and listen carefully without criticizing or disapproving about how they handled the situation.

Parents might share their stories of teasing or criticism they have experienced in order to let the child know that it happens to most people and that it’s normal to be upset.

They can also help their child learn how to handle or stop the teasing. The local library or bookstore will have books on the subject, or try an online search for advice, such as the U.S. Health Department site at http://www.stopbullying.gov. In serious, ongoing cases, consider consulting with a professional counselor specializing in family and child counseling.

To adults, teasing may seem a minor issue, but to an adolescent, pre-teen or even a teenager facing repeated taunting, harassment and ridicule, it’s a serious and painful problem that shouldn’t be ignored.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit http://www.counseling.org.

 

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