“We cannot prevent what others say, however, we can learn to control our own reactions.”
During preschool and throughout the early grades, children are developing literacy and language skills. As children learn new words, and increase their social interactions with other children, they learn that saying certain things cause a reaction from others. If certain words cause someone to get upset, the person saying those words (or teasing) may welcome the additional attention. In some cases, children live in homes where teasing and mockery is the norm. Therefore, it is likely the child may model the behavior.
Children tease for many other reasons. They may feel powerful when others are afraid of them, they may like to be the center of attention, they have limited skills concerning getting along with others, or they make fun of others because others are different and the teaser doesn’t understand those differences.
One of the leading effects of teasing is a significant decrease in a child’s self-esteem. Teasing generally focuses on a child’s characteristics that are considered “different” from others. When other students focus on these differences, a child can feel unwanted or ashamed of who they are. Teach all students that everyone is to be treated with respect and compassion. Inform the class that teasing, name-calling, and other unkind behaviors are forbidden. Discourage teasing by emphasizing acts of kindness, and promoting values of cooperation and tolerance in your classroom. It is important to model appropriate behavior by treating all students fairly and respectfully.
Carrie Flower Learns to Deal with Teasing, one of the books included in the Carrie Flower Curriculum, provides the following activities to address teasing in early learning programs.
1. Get Students Talking About Teasing – a group activity that provides 10 scenarios to get students to make critical decisions (i.e. A new student started at your school this week, and he is having trouble fitting in. Some of your friends have been laughing behind his back. What would you do?)
2. Developing Resilience in Children – Uses the Poster “Sometimes life is hard, Bend but never break.” To facilitate discussion about the book and Carrie’s decisions as she deals with this change in her life and discussing things children do when they encounter tough situations.
3. Understanding Social Norms – integrates the Carrie Flower Hand Puppets to address issues such as: Meet and Great Politely, Take Turns Talking, Paying Attention to Others, Think About Others Before Acting, and Cooperating with Others.
If you are an administrator or teacher, you need this curriculum in your schools. It is also a great way to facilitate parent involvement by engaging parents and sharing these activities, which should be replicated in the home. The research is clear that children are more likely to succeed academically and socially if their families are involved in their education. That is a topic for another day.
I would love to hear your comments, questions, suggestions, and thoughts regarding this post.
Until Next Time … Keep up the hard work … You are making a difference in the lives of children and families. Dr. G.