Teasing is universal, its a fact of life. In my classroom when I ask any person if they were teased as a child the answer is always the same. Yes. Then I ask who they were teased by, there are a number of answers I get: siblings, the kid down the street, their teacher, or even their family. People are always able to remember who teased or bullied them. The torment they underwent becomes a part of them.

Teasing can be friendly or malicious. When we begin to look at the difference between the two, we realize that part of the teasing that goes on is done to find out where your hot buttons are. Teasing beings the process of weeding out if two people are a good match as friends, if their interests are the same, and acts like a mating game. Other people have dubbed it Playground Politics.

There is an absolute pecking order on the playground. If I were to ask you to look back into your past and think about who on that playground was popular, who were the kids who were accepted, who were the ones who were controversial? We are easily been able to remember who those people were.

Do you remember the kids who didn't blend well? Who were the kids who always seemed to be in transition, adapting their personality to what ever situation or social group they encountered. You may be able to name those people too.

Our goal as parents is to help our child find out who they are as a person. We need to be concerned with teaching our children how to be a good friend, instead of helping them find friends. We need to teach our children how to be the kind of person that other people are drawn to. As parents our job is to teach our children how to be the person that will attract the kind of people they want to be around. When we teach them how to be that person we are really teaching them three things: Confidence, Character and Critical Thinking.

Here is what a confident person looks like shoulders back, their chest open. Their hands are not clenched or crossed, this posture shows that they are open and their heart is speaking to other peoples hearts. Our posture shows we are approachable. Confident people look other people in the eye, and smile. They smile without assuming the other person is going to smile back.

Our children need to learn character and values, so they will never be caught in situational ethics. Our children need to know what their values are before they are put into situations where those values are going to be tested. If children are put in a situation where another child is being picked on or teased, they should know the kind of person they are, or want to be, and be empowered to make a decision on how to get involved based on their values. They should know they don't want to participate in a situation where someone may be hurt. A child should know already that they want to be a kind person, before they are ever put into a situation where they are required to decide.

If children have made the decision early in life to be kind, they will easily be able to make the decision that they don't want to be involved in teasing others, even if it means going against the group.

Critical Thinking
Our children need to be taught to think critically and be problem solvers. Over the next decade the ability to solve problems is going very important to our children. We need them to learn not only to solve conflict, but manage it. Children need to learn these skills so they do not become whiners or tattles, but empower themselves to be strong. Learning to determine if conflicts that are happening are small problems and can be solved easily, or if there is a larger problem,(like someone being hurt) that may require intervention by an adult.

There is a program called Kelso's choice which empowers young people, their parents and other caring adults with the ability to determine their own behaviour. It teaches how to master emotions which is a critical skill in conflict resolution. Kelso's Choice teaches youth not to take it personally when they are being teased. The program teaches when children are being teased it is very seldom about them, and is more often about the child who is doing the teasing. Children are taught the teaser is often involved in some sort of power struggle. This knowledge can drastically reduce the amount of tattling that goes on and keeps small problems from ballooning into huge problems.

As parents we are encouraged to help our children develop the ability to decifer when something is a small problem, like a pebble, and when a problem may be bigger like a mountain. This also helps to improve the child's self esteem as the become more confident to solve problems on their own. This tool is not just a solution for today, but something which can be used for their entire life.

We can help our children learn critical thinking skills in a number of ways. Children need to learn tools like redirecting to another activity, sharing, taking turns, talking it out, walking away, or just ignoring conflict. One important skill they will learn is teaching them it is OK to tell someone they need to stop when what that person is doing makes them uncomfortable. By using body language such as an upheld hand, they learn to set boundaries. Many times these little things are all we need to do to stop a behaviour.

If its something your child has done to cause a conflict we as parents need to teach them is OK to acknowledge they did something wrong and apologize, as well as do their best to correct the situation. Our children need to know it is OK to walk away and take a cooling off period.

I have developed a list of items to help children be more likable:

I always hand out Q-tips in my classroom as a reminder to Quit Taking It Personally. This serves as a reminder to young people that not everything that goes on is about them. They should know they have the power to solve their own problems unless there is a danger involved.

Allow children to find their own peer group, and feel comfortable with who they are. Don't push them to be in a peer group they don't feel comfortable in.

When discussing the events of the day and you as a parent hear a lot of negative comments, make sure you ask them “but then....” and prompt them to say something positive about what happened next. Encourage them to end what they say on a positive note. Don't let them end it on a negative because the negative will be ingrained it in their brain.

Teach them blame, shame and focusing on the pain won't work. Help them to look for body language. Body language tells us a lot about whether someone wants to be around us, if they are lonely or simply want to be left alone. Being able to read body language is a skill that will help them to be sensitive to others and know how and when to approach people. Make sure that as an adult you model the relationships you want them to have.

Also, be careful not to tear down other children. If they come home and tell you another child won't play with them, don't respond by telling them they don't want to play with that child anyway. Don't tell them they don't want to play with another child because that other child isn't good to play with anyway. Eventually the two may become friends and inevitably your child will tell their new friend what you have said. This is going to cause hurt feelings and harm your relationship with their new friend. Our job as parents is not to tear down other peoples children, but to build up our own.

Express confidence in you child's choices and their ability to draw others to them. This goes a long way to making our children into the people we want them to be.

For more information visit www.theleftoutchild.com where you will find an e-course that teach you to teach your child to be more personable and more likable.

www.UseEncouragingWords.com A free ebook to assist you in motivating positive action in all communications

www.kidschoresandmore.com helping parents raise responsible, respectful children who will become self sufficient adults

www.theleftoutchild.com information about the importance of friendship

www.welcomeabundance.com helping you find ways to increase income and decrease outflow