While we can't stop kids from saying nasty stuff to our children, we can do things to reduce the chances our sons and daughters will be targeted. The most important thing you can do is teach your child how to respond in a way that discourages future teasing. With the large number of mean-spirited kids these days (kids who seem to get a charge from picking on their so-called friends), learning those comeback strategies can be an essential part of every child's friendship aptitude arsenal.
Here are some of the most effective comeback strategies that kids tell me have worked for them. Your job is to share these strategies with your child, and then have her choose the one she feels most comfortable with. Remember, what works for one child won't necessary be the best choice for another.
Once your child chooses a comeback strategy, you need to teach her how to deliver it effectively. Finally, help your child practice it again and again until your little one feels comfortable using it in the real kid world.
Here are a few strategies I have in my book, Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Stop Them. I hope they help.
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."
Step 2. Help your child practice delivering the comeback effectively.
Let's face it -- kids don't want to be around someone who's always teased. It just ups the chances they'll be picked on. And they especially don't want to be around someone who always crying, whining, or threatening to "tell" when teasing is playfully delivered among friends. So just remember that when you teach a comeback to your child, it is just as important to make sure he knows to say it calmly and confidently. Here are the six steps your child needs to learn so he delivers an effective comeback that stops the teaser.
Hang in there, keep practicing friendship skills together, and you will make a big difference for your child. Remember, simple changes can reap big results.
Dr. Borba is a recognized expert on parenting and violence prevention. Her proposal to end school violence and student bullying (SB1667) was signed into California law in 2002.