Mar 28, 2016

When Teasing Becomes Bullying

Teasing is one of the best ways children bond with each other wherever they are, whether they are at a farm helping their father plant the next season’s rice or learning the fine art of critical thinking in one of the international schools in the Philippines.  Brothers tease their younger brothers about not wearing underwear while they were kids, sisters teasing each other about the boys they like, and friends teasing each other about what happened to a certain wind instrument at that one time at band camp. 
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Teasing is entertaining and can be a great vehicle for telling fun stories at family reunions or youth camps;however, it is important to remember that teasing is fun only when everybody is having fun—including the one being teased.

If the one being teased is not having the time of his life or if the teaser’s intent is to insult, threaten, or hurt the subject of the tease, then teasing takes a dark turn.  It becomes a vehicle for bullying behavior.  In fact, although most bullying incidents portrayed in the media often depicts physical violence, real-life bullies rarely start their bullying with physical violence. 

Bullying in real-life usually starts small and in a different form, which includes name calling, talking behind the victim’s back, making up stories to destroy the victim’s social standing, and yes, teasing.

Being teased and made fun of is never fun.  Most children who experience this form of bullying often make excuses not to go to school.  They lie and feign sickness, hoping that a single day’s lie would earn them a single day’s respite from all the bullying and teasing.  They feel unwanted, not liked, and unhappy.  They might even feel that all the teasing and bullying is somehow their fault.

Although no parent would like their children to be bullied or teased so much that they would rather stay at home than go outside;however, many parents also offer the wrong advice whenever they realize that their children are being teased incessantly while outside. These kinds of advice are rarely helpful.

Below are some examples:
·         Just forgive and ignore them, child.  Jesus said to give the other cheek. Although emulating Jesus Christ is not the worst advice parents can give their children, teaching them that it is okay to turn the other cheek whenever something bad happens to them is actually not a good idea, as doing so would effectively be turning them into doormats.  Doormats are excessively submissive people who often give in to others’ wishes and allows other people to walk all over them.
·         Mommy is busy. Go bother your father instead. Shifting the responsibility to the other parent is not doing the child being bullied or teased a favor.  Parents that do this will make their children feel unwanted, lonely, and isolated, which may exacerbate the problem.
·         He said what?  Stop being such a sissy and bash his face in the next time you see him!Teaching incessantly teased and bullied children to result to violence rarely works.  Violence only leads to a vicious cycle of escalating violence that rarely results in the problem being properly addressed.  Violence given is violence received.

Teasing and bullying cannot be avoided, and every children experiences a form of bullying or excessive teasing every day in their lives, which is why parents need the right strategies to help their children cope with excessive and incessant teasing.  

Below are two such strategies:

·         Parents should always be available. How willingly children will go to their parents for help or advice depends on their personality.  Some children ask for help overtly, some do not.  That they ask for help or not does not matter.  What matters is that they know that their parents are always there for them.  A single hug and words of love and encouragement can work wonders.

·         Parents should never interfere and only give advice. Sometimes all a bullied child needs is advice or, at the very least, someone to believe them.  Admitting to their parents that they are being bullied takes a lot out of children—especially those at the cusp of adolescence.  They may try to make up stories of their friend being bullied and will ask for advice.  Parents would do well to listen and look at the problem in their children’s perspective.  It would also good for parents to remember that, for children going to school, that school and all the people they encounter there are their entire life as they see it, and parents should give take this into account when they offer advice.

Children are in a metamorphosis.  What happens during their childhood will shape their decisions as they grow up—the memories that shape each decision can decide what kind of people they will turn out to be in the future.  Each moment is important.  A tease today can turn into a full-blown bullying incident tomorrow, which is why parents have to be vigilant.

Author Biography:
Kimberly Marie Gayeta (Kimmy)is a Communications Degree holder, passionate writer, currently working as a local Public Relations Officerand an online Marketing Representative.
Thoroughly fascinated about travelling, leisure, and living the good life!
Follow her on twitter: @kimmygayeta

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