Look at the “map” Marita developed to help her daughter deal with unfriendly teasing!
A visual tool like this is invaluable for any kid who needs a boost with social skills, especially because, in the moment, it’s difficult to know how to respond. Having a visual strategy allows kids to practice responding bullies and teasing while in a safe, low-stress environment.
Marita originally detailed each “finger” tactic on her blog, but that post is no longer available, so I’ll summarize here.
Begin with volume and eye contact
- Use an 8 out of 10 voice volume so you know the person doing the teasing can hear your voice.
- Look directly at the person’s face. If eye contact is too scary, just look at their nose.
#1: Ignore and walk away
- Keep your facial expression neutral or “bored.”
- Say “so?” or “Whatever” in a low-energy voice
If the teasing continues, go to #2.
#2: Say “Please stop. It makes me feel upset.”
- Sometimes friends tease in a friendly way and don’t realize when they’ve crossed a line.
- This will make your friends aware that their words are hurting you.
If the teasing continues, go to #3.
#3: Say “Stop it, I don’t like it.”
- Turn your voice volume to 10 out of 10.
- Be VERY LOUD.
If the teasing continues, go to #4.
#4. Say “Stop it or I’ll tell the teacher.”
- Sometimes the threat to tell a teacher or other nearby grownup will stop the teasing.
- Use a LOUD VOICE.
If the teasing continues, go to #5.
#5. Walk away to the teacher and tell.
- It is important to make sure a grown up knows about the teasing.
- Grown ups can help stop unfriendly teasing.
I’m so grateful that Marita shared this tool and strategy not only because it’s a practical way for kids to deal with teasing and bullying, but because it helps kids learn to trust their own power and gain confidence in themselves.
For further reading, here are a few book recommendations. I’ve included Amazon links here, but you can also look for these books at your local bookstore or library.
- Stand Up For Yourself & Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way (American Girl series): This book is geared toward girls in grades 3-4. I was skeptical about American Girl books in the past, but have found them to be high-quality, approachable and practical.
- Stick Up For Yourself! Every Kid’s Guide to Personal Power and Positive Self-Esteem by Gershen Kaufman: This book is geared toward older elementary- and middle school-aged kids. It’s essentially assertiveness training, and will help kids learn how to communicate with power and confidence.
- What Should Danny Do? by Ganit and Adir Levy: This book doesn’t directly address teasing. Instead, it’s a “choose your own adventure” style book for little kids learning about social skills (which is ALL little kids, right?). It makes the connection between behaviors and consequences in a fun, engaging way.
How have you helped your child deal with teasing and bullying? Share your tips in the comments.
I co-host a weekly podcast called Edit Your Life about making more room in your life for what matters. We’ve talked about parenting challenges such as helping kids through tragic events, talking to kids about sexual harassment, and finding peace in the midst of your kid’s struggles. Subscribe to Edit Your Life in your favorite podcast app, or find out more on the Edit Your Life website.