"Sticks and stones may brake my bones and words will never hurt me." I wonder who came up with that saying. It certainly is not a statement of fact. The truth is that words do hurt, and more often than not they are more hurtful than physical injury.
Children and youth of all ages are especially vulnerable to hurtful words, even in joking. Children are not as adept at taking "a joke" or have a level of self confidence to counteract hurtful words and actions. Even as adults we sometimes can interpret snide remarks as hurtful comments.
Why does this happen? I can't answer that, but we as parents can be a part of putting it to halt. It all starts at home. If we don't accept teasing and harmful "put downs" at home and explain to our children over and over again that it's not acceptable anywhere they go, I would hope they follow through when we are not around to correct them.
I think some parents would be surprised that their children are participating in the teasing of other children. I know we can't watch their every move or always control who they hang out with. Many times children who tease others do so when the person they are hanging out with starts teasing a person, or they start the teasing themselves to "impress" their friends.
Guess what parents, that is called PEER PRESSURE, and we all know where peer pressure leads. I'm sure many of us have been led down the peer pressure road that took us to some sort of trouble. Do we want that for our children? I should hope not.
We have to give our children the tools they need to resist the temptations of peer pressure. Teach them to be leaders in kindness. Honestly, it really isn't "cool" to torment and tease others. The child doing the teasing might think it is cool, but to others, parents included, they are probably viewed as bullies and brats. Is that the way you want your children viewed by others?
For parents whose children are the targets of teasing, we need to arm our children with the tools they need to get past what others think of them. We have to tell them daily that they are loved no matter what. We have to LISTEN to them when they are relaying their problems to us and be willing to act when necessary, on their behalf.
Most of all we have to arm them with an abundance of self-confidence in themselves to get past the hurt feelings. Is this an easy task? No! I have said it before and I will say it again, once a parent always a parent, even into adulthood.
We can't stop being parents because our children become more independent. Even into the teenage years we have to stress our non-acceptance of teasing and bullying. We have to continue to tell our children how much we love them no matter what. We have to continue to build self confidence.
All the Character Counts training our elementary students get now will be for nothing if we don't follow through at home and throughout high school.
I have to give my parents a lot of credit. I was a target for teasing while growing up and I also succumbed to peer pressure later in high school. Looking back now, I realize, not once did they ever stop being parents.
They were there to pick me up when I needed it and they were there to put me in my place when I needed it. Now as an adult I face trying to help my own children with their self confidence and kind behavior. Just like my parents, I pick them up when they need it, and I put them in their place when they need it.
I wish all parents would do the same. Let your children, both young and teens, know that teasing, bullying, and following another person's bad behavior (peer pressure), is not acceptable. Teach them to be a leader in kindness. Tell them, to tell their buddies, the next time they start teasing someone, that it really isn't the "cool" thing to do.
Children tease each other in an attempt to make their "victim" look bad, in the end, they are the ones that look bad.