1. Parenting

How Do I Put A Stop to Kid Teasing?

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Question: How Do I Put A Stop to Kid Teasing?
Your child got glasses, and has remarked that other kids now tease him. The same reaction can occur when a child gets braces or other orthodontic appliance, has to wear orthopedic shoes, walks differently, or even has freckles. What do parents/providers do to stop kids from teasing others? Here are some "anti teasing" tips to consider
Answer: Teasing often begins around the age of 4 or 5, when kids become aware of differences in others. Kids tease for different reasons; sometimes it is caused only by curiosity where kids wonder out loud why someone is different. Other times, kids have a longing to be the same as everyone, and having any difference signifies vulnerability.

Parents and providers can help to minimize, if not eliminate, teasing by talking with kids before and/or when someone has a difference, and then talking through it. Kids may tease another for wearing glasses, when in truth they simply don't understand what they do or why they are needed. The same holds true for braces, headgear, expanders, or other types of orthodontic gear.

A recommended step is to introduce what is different in circle time or in a group setting and let kids ask questions and help them to better understand. If a child will be getting glasses, consider letting kids look through magnifying glasses or wear sunglasses from home on the first day. Talk about how the glasses help the child to see much better and the advantages they will bring. Perhaps the child would like to lead a show and tell session with friends to "show" what is different and why.

In the case of a child with a disability, talking to classmates about how their classmate uses a wheelchair or doesn't hear well, for example, allows kids to comprehend the difference. Adults should offer suggestions on how classmates can interact, help, or even types of games and activities that can be played.

Above all, if your child is the one being teased, provide ways a child can address the teasing, help him to simply describe what is different and how it helps him and also encourage him to become an independent thinker and not a follower. A child with glasses can talk about how he now has "super" eyesight and can see things far and near. Often, the result is that kids come home wanting glasses or braces of their own, as well.

Finally, parents and providers alike should provide the child who has differences with useful advice for friendly solutions to teasing and how to overcome any comments with confidence.

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