Handling Meanies

Step 1

Step 1. Choose a comeback strategy to take the sting out of the teasing.

Your child is certain to be teased: it's a fact of life and a big part of growing up. Some kids handle it a whole lot better then others, and so can yours. Review these comeback strategies together, and then pick the idea your child likes best. Then rehearse the comeback together again and again until she feels comfortable trying it on her own. Here are a few "kid favorites."

  • Question it. "Why would you say that?" "Why would you want to tell me I am dumb or fat or whatever and hurt my feelings?"
  • Send a strong "I Want" message. "I want you to leave me alone" or "I want you to stop teasing me." The trick is to say the message firmly so that it doesn't sound wimpy.
  • Turn it into a compliment. "Hey, thanks. I appreciate that!" "That was really nice of you to notice." "Thanks for the compliment."
  • Agree. "You've got that right." "One hundred percent correct!" "Bingo, you win!" "People say that a lot about me."
  • Say "So?" "So?...Whatever." "So?...Who cares." "So?...And your point is?" If your child likes this strategy, be sure to read the book, "The Meanest Thing to Say," by Bill Cosby (Scholastic, 1997).
  • Use manners. "Thanks." "Thank you for that comment." "I appreciate that." But say it so it sounds sincere, and then turn and walk away.
  • Use sarcasm. "Like I would care?" "Give me a break." "Oh, that's just great." The "look" has to match: rolling your eyes and walking away can do the trick. This works usually only for older kids who understand sarcasm.
  • Ignore it. Walk away without even a look at the teaser, pretend the teaser is invisible, glance at something else and laugh, look completely uninterested or pretend you don't hear it. This one works best if your child has a tougher time delivering verbal comebacks. It works best in places where your child can escape his teasers such as on a park or playground. It doesn't work in closed quarters such on a school bus or cafeteria table.
  • Be amazed. "Really? I didn't know that." "Thanks for telling me." Sounding like you really mean it is the trick.
  • Express displeasure. "It really makes me mad when you tease me like that." Or "I don't like it when you make fun of me in front of the other kids. You may think it's funny, but it's not to me." "If you want us to continue being friends, stop teasing me." If this really is your kid's friend who is causing him such distress, then encourage your child to express his displeasure.

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