Teasing can be the pits. Though everyone gets teased some of the time, and though teasing can be done in the spirit of friendship, it can also be just plain mean. When it's hurtful, here's what I think is going on:

People tease when they get a response...it makes them feel more powerful... and that's their reward. So take away the reward by taking away the response that the teasers learn to expect. 

Here's what I've found to be helpful: Try not to be drawn into the teasing. When it starts, make a joke of it, or respond with a comment that you've practiced at home, or walk away by casually saying, "well, I'm out of here... better things to do to have fun" without appearing hurt. In other words, develop what's called 'resilience'. Think of yourself as a rubber ball instead of as a glass that can be shattered easily. 

Teasing also happens when people are uncomfortable or scared. If you're being teased because of a difference that others don't understand, how about helping them? Assume that they wouldn't tease if they knew more about the difference. You're the expert on it; you're the one who's learned how to live with it; so you're the one in the best position to teach. 

Here's an example. Say your hair came out during treatment to get rid of cancer. That happens a lot to kids, and it's confusing and scary to children who don't understand. So there you are, with your baseball cap on walking into the cafeteria at school. Who should you meet but the biggest bully in school who pushes your cap on the ground and says, "ooh, baldy, what happened, cooties eat your hair?" You might say, "Nope, you got that one wrong! I'm taking some strong medicine that my hair just didn't like so it took off for awhile. I wonder what color it'll be when it grows back..." 

Teasing back doesn't do much good. In fact, it usually just  brings you down to the same level as the teaser and nothing positive gets accomplished. 

How about sharing how you became a 'teasebuster'? Can't wait to 

hear from you! 
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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468


Last updated: November 19, 2004