Hello from beautiful Montana:

Not only in Montana, but all over the world today children and teens are dreading the lunch bell.  Why?  Because they know that they will be teased, tormented and bullied when they are in a common area with other kids. Harsh and ugly words and phrases are hurled at the  child and usually in the presence of classmates, which is embarrassing. There are usually power struggles for “Queen Bees” and the “Wannabees” in girls and the “Alpha Male” in the boys. Teasing and  trading insults may be a way of getting acquainted or finding the group of friends who are friendly to the child.

Friendly and Unfriendly Teasing

If a child’s self esteem in grade school is dependent on relationships with peers, they need to learn to not take every remark as a personal insult.  Hopefully, you and your child can understand that teasing can be friendly or unfriendly.  Even saying a phrase like “Hello” or “Get out of here” can take on many different meaning with a change in tone of voice and body language.

Most communication is non verbal and so the child has to pay attention to not only what the other children say but how they say it.

Verbal Language is Exchange of Information

The words and greetings exchanged on the playground can often depend more on the mood and experiences of the speaker than on the one being addressed.  However, people in general and children in particular, tend to personalize anything that is said.  Helping them to interpret words and gestures to understand what the intent is behind the words.

Non Verbal Language is Communication of Relationships

Most emotional and relationship connecting people is nonverbal. So to understand other people the ability to read body language is huge.  Some children, because of their difficulty in reading other people’s cues (especially in groups) need to practice and role play interacting with others. Children also need to have confidence in their ability to like and be liked by other people.

Teasing on the playground will be easier to  interpret  by children who have gained some understanding that relationships bring pleasure and belonging along with the flip side of disappointment and frustration. Here are some non verbal cue and clues to help them:

Clues for Unfriendly and Friendly Teasing

Hostile facial expression                  Smiling facial expression

Sarcastic tone of voice                     Joking tone of voice

Fists, Arms crossed                           Hands open

“In your face”                                      Standing next to child being teased

Encourage Your Child To Problem Solve

When the child complains that they are being teased with hurtful words, the parents naturally feel the hurt as much or more than the child does. Be careful that you are not setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Teach them the skills they will need to help themselves. If  you would like assistance in encouraging your child, please go to:


In support and joy,

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker

PS:  Help your kids to assume personal responsibility for their feelings and emotions.   You will always be grateful and so will they.

PSS:   Be sure to take a look at this    http://www.TheLeftOutChild.com

Teasing On PlayGround – Words Can Hurt