This article first gives some reasons why teasers tease, and then gives advice about ways of reacting to being teased that can stop them, or ways people can stop teasing getting to them.
The last bit gives advice on what can be done if the teasers are too nasty for the person being teased to cope with on their own.
I know I've taken the things people say when they've teased me to heart before, and I know other people do, so it can be quite upsetting. But one of these books says that teasing often doesn't really have anything to do with what a person's being teased about, but is just an excuse for teasers to pick on someone. Someone might tease another person saying their hair's too long or they're too fat, or whatever, when they don't really care about those things at all. They might have just chosen those things to pick on because picking on someone makes them feel big. Or they might think it's fun when the person they're teasing loses their temper so they do it some more. Or they might be upset with the person for something and be taking it out on them. Or a number of other reasons.
Sometimes, when someone starts being teased by another person and they don't know why, it can help if they think back to what happened just before the teasing started, to see if the teaser might be upset or angry about anything they've done, even if it's something that wasn't their fault.
A book I've been reading called "Easing the Teasing" says there was a boy called Louis who suddenly started getting teased by another boy, Josh, and he worked out that it happened just after he'd been bought a nice new pair of shoes. Josh had started wearing some nice new ones the week before and everyone had been admiring him. But after Louis got a nice new pair as well, people thought his were better and started admiring them instead. So Josh was jealous and angry, and didn't want Louis's shoes to be admired more than his, so he teased him so people wouldn't think he was better.
Louis worked out what must be bothering Josh, and decided to make him feel better by complimenting him on how cool his shoes were. He did it one day when Josh pushed him aside in the lunch queue not long afterwards and said his ugly feet were in the way. Louis complimented him by saying he hadn't heard him coming since his shoes were so fast and quiet. Josh went away happily, and was pleased after that and stopped teasing him.
When a girl called Jamie started saying all kinds of horrible things to another girl, Alicia, like that she was too slow in gym and she looked like a toad, Alicia was upset and told her parents. Her mum asked her if something had happened recently that could have made Jamie angry. Alicia couldn't think of anything at first, but after a while, she remembered that Jamie was one of the few people in the class who hadn't been invited to her birthday party. Alicia had been careful to hand out the invitations when Jamie wasn't there, and thought Jamie wouldn't find out. But she had, and was upset and angry about it, and reacted to that by being nasty to Alicia.
Alicia realised that that was probably what had made Jamie start teasing her. She had a quiet word with her in the playground the next day, telling her she was sorry she couldn't invite her to her party, and that the only reason Jamie hadn't been invited was that Alicia's mum had said she could only have a certain number of other children there, so she couldn't invite everyone. Jamie was happy with that and the teasing stopped.
Teasing can stop being upsetting once people realise why they're really being teased.
Some children tease others because it makes people watching laugh, and then they feel looked up to and admired.
Some children tease because they get attention for it so they don't feel left out, even if it's the kind of attention you wouldn't think they'd want, such as when people get angry with them. Sometimes, they just don't know how to get attention in good ways. Sometimes that can be because they've just never learned how.
Some teasers tease because they like to feel better than other people to make themselves feel good. So they make people look bad, so they can feel better about themselves because they think that at least they're not as bad as the people they're teasing.
And some teasers feel powerful and superior when their victims cry or get angry or scared or distressed. They think they must be powerful to make other children do that, so it makes them feel good about themselves.
And children who tease others and make them look small are often quite popular, because other children think they must be the cool ones if they're better than the ones they're teasing, so they want to be in their crowd. So it makes them feel even better about themselves.
A lot of children tease because they think it's fun. They don't really think about how the person being teased is feeling.
Often, when the person being teased gets upset, the one doing the teasing will try to get themselves out of taking responsibility for what they said by saying something like, "Can't you take a joke?" But they know it wasn't just a joke really. They said it even though they knew it might be upsetting, because they think it's fun and have never thought about what it's like to be the other person and have their hurt feelings.
Sometimes, someone teases another person because they're upset or angry with them, either for something they've said or done, or for something they think they've said or done. But they don't really know how to express their feelings in a sensible way, or they think the other person won't care if they do, so they say nasty things to them instead. And then the one being teased might have no idea why it's happening, because the one doing the teasing hasn't told them why, and they might be teasing them about things that have nothing to do with what they're angry or upset about.
If the person being teased teases the teaser back, the whole thing can get worse. And the whole thing could have been avoided if only the person who felt hurt or angry had told the other person what the problem was instead of teasing them, and they'd made up.
Another problem happens when a person teases to take out angry feelings on someone when it wasn't even them that made them angry. And the one being teased might have no idea that something's even happened to make the teaser angry.
This book says there was a ten year-old boy who suddenly started being nasty to children around him. He'd pick on much younger children, call the girls ugly witches, have a go at boys if they made a mistake in a sports match, and say other horrible things. He'd always been friendly and uncritical of people before.
The teachers tried telling him off, but he didn't change. Then they wondered if something was the matter.
So they asked him whether things were going wrong in his life, and found out that his parents were going through a difficult divorce and it was upsetting for everyone. The boy was very angry that his parents didn't love each other any more. But he thought he couldn't tell his parents, because he was worried they'd be angry with him about it. So he took his angry feelings out on other children instead.
The teacher sent him to see a school social worker, who listened to his story sympathetically and encouraged him to talk more about his feelings. She encouraged him to tell his parents how he felt, and arranged a meeting between herself, him and his parents, where she talked to his parents about the importance of trying to understand his feelings. She suggested he join a support group she ran for children whose parents were going through a divorce. He did, and he found it helpful. He stopped teasing the other children so much, and in fact by the next year, he'd started helping younger children who were having emotional problems, using things he'd learned in the support group to help them.
So maybe for people who've been friends before with someone who starts teasing them, it might help to ask them whether something's wrong.
Kids often see each other being aggressive towards each other, whether that be on TV or video games or in films, or in real life. If they come to think it's just normal, they won't see anything wrong with it. And since there aren't many places they can learn good ways of settling differences, they might not have learned to behave in any other way.
Even children's programmes like cartoons and comedy programmes can be full of put-downs that make some characters look clever at the expense of others. When they're followed by the sound of an audience laughing, it especially gives the impression that they're witty. So people who like to tease others can get the message that it's allright to do that kind of thing, so they think it's OK to do it more.
Some people tease as a defence mechanism to cover up their fear and uncomfortable feelings around people who are different from them in some way when they don't really understand why. If they're busy attacking them, it means they're not sitting there letting themselves feel uncomfortable or scared, so they feel better.
It can sometimes help if someone being teased explains the reasons they're different or reassures teasers that their differences don't mean anything bad.
For instance, some kids who've had leukaemia where their hair's all fallen out and their skin doesn't look too good because of the chemotherapy treatment they've had have been teased badly because of it when they've gone back to school afterwards. But some have managed to stop themselves being teased by explaining why they look the way they do. When one girl went back to school, she took the cap off that she wore that her mother had knitted for her that hid her baldness, and explained to everyone why she'd gone bald, and even let other children pay to feel her head, and set up a contest that people had to pay to join where they had to guess what date the hair on a certain part of her head would be an inch long. Her mother knitted more caps, and she gave them out to other girls, and they became prized possessions.
Something else that can stop teasing, or stop it beginning in the first place, is if people talk all about the worst things about the things wrong with them, or explain all the things that are different about them, so teasers have nothing left they can say.
There was a boy who had a serious and ugly skin condition that meant he couldn't participate in a lot of activities. On his first day at his new school, he stood in front of the class and explained all about it. He described what the painful treatment was like, showed photos of what his skin had been like at its worst, explained what he wouldn't be able to do because of it, and talked about how he was depressed because he might not get better and because treatment was costing a lot of money for his parents.
He was never teased, and in fact the children welcomed him into the group.
Some people tease others because it's just the way they've learned to talk to people because people in their family tease them, so they just think it's normal. Or sometimes, they get teased at home and it makes them feel powerless, so they tease other people because it makes them feel powerful, which they think is a nice change, so it's a nice feeling, feeling as if they're the one in control for a change.
This book says there was a girl who used to say nasty things about her classmates and try to make them look bad. She called them names and talked about them behind their backs, and often wouldn't let them join in with her games. But the author of the book found out that that was the way her older sisters treated her, so it was the way she'd learned to behave.
Or sometimes, children who enjoy teasing their younger brothers and sisters will start teasing their schoolmates as well for the fun of it.
There was a boy who kept picking fights in the playground and saying nasty things to other children. The school social worker spoke to him and asked him why. At first, he didn't say much. But eventually, he started crying and said his step-dad was horrible to him, always criticising him and making fun of him, saying things to him that made him feel helpless and humiliated and depressed. His behaviour at school was an imitation of his step-dad's behaviour towards him, and a way of trying to get his feelings out of his system about it.
Some teasers, especially young ones, don't seem to tease for any particular reason. Sometimes they don't even know the meaning of the words they're using. Some older children don't either, so their words can upset the one being teased much more than they realised it would.
Sometimes, they're repeating what they hear other people say about people they know. Sometimes, if parents say horrible things about other people, they can imitate them, not really realising what they're saying.
Sometimes, people are teased about things they ought to change really, like picking their nose. It's still not allright for people to tease others about things like that. But it can be good if people being teased about things they can change like that do change.
There are things people can do to help themselves remember to change things that have become habits so they do them without thinking. One thing that could work is carrying something little around with them that will remind them every time they touch it.
There are probably lots of ideas people can think up for other things they can do as well, like asking a friend to give them some kind of little signal when they notice them doing the thing they ought to change, that only they and the friend understand, or asking a teacher to do that. People get better at changing behaviour with practice anyway.
Some people find it helpful when they're being teased to keep a notebook they use as a diary, and every day, they think of things they've done well, and write them in the notebook, to stop themselves feeling as if they're no good or feeling so unhappy because of what their teaser said.
Also, it can be good if we make sure we spend at least fifteen minutes a day doing something we really enjoy, to cheer ourselves up.
We can make a big difference to the way we feel simply by how we think about the teasing. If we feel helpless, as if our teasers are the powerful ones and there's nothing we can do, we'll feel worse than we will if we take the attitude that we're determined to refuse to let it get to us so much any more.
One thing that can help is if we think of our feelings as things we ourselves let happen to us, not things other people make happen to us. I think most people just think their feelings come over them automatically. But we might be able to control them more than we think. So, for instance, when we get teased and we're upset by it, instead of thinking, "They upset me", we could think, "I let myself get upset about what they did". That will give us the message that we don't have to stay feeling like that if we do something to change our feelings, like something to cheer ourselves up.
And thinking of feelings as things we let happen to us will help us remember that we don't have to feel that way about what the teaser said, because we didn't have to take it so personally or whatever, because chances are, it wasn't really true and they were just doing it to make themselves feel better or whatever. And we could remind ourselves to think like that whenever we feel unhappy.
That doesn't mean we have to blame ourselves for the way we feel and feel bad about it. It just means that if we think that way, we're more likely to be able to think about the ways we can change things than we will if we think our feelings are beyond our control. And that'll mean we're less unhappy about things.
After all, we suffer twice if we go around feeling bitter about what happened, once because of the bullying, and another time because we're holding onto grudges and feeling upset because of the way we're thinking about it, and things like that.
We shouldn't have to deal with this kind of thing. But since we do, we may as well get on and try to do the best we can.
If we can stop taking teasing so personally, because really, anyone who bullies us will probably be doing it because they think it's a laugh, or they want to take anger out on someone, or make themselves feel better about themselves by making themselves feel better than someone else, or something like that, then we won't be so bothered by it, because we won't think it means there's something wrong with us. So we can think of it as just them being nasty.
If we can do that, so we don't take what they say that seriously, we could imagine funny things are happening when they tease us. For example, we could imagine that every nasty thing they say is a hot potato they're passing to us, that'll scald us if we hold on to it, so we could imagine throwing it away every time.
Or we could imagine sparks are coming out of the bully's mouth every time they speak, and we have to try to make sure they don't hit us.
Bullies might try to blame us for what they do, like saying that if we weren't so annoying, they wouldn't have to do it, but we don't have to believe rubbish like that. If we can control the way we feel to some extent, then they can control the way they behave, and the way they feel! They can't say we annoyed them so much they had to do what they did, because they let themselves get annoyed about it - we didn't force them to be annoyed!
We shouldn't have to put up with their behaviour, but if we do, at least we can stop it getting to us so much, although it might take practice till we're good at it.
A survey that was done of bullies found that over half of them said they did it because they were angry or jealous, and lots more said it was because they were bored or thought it was a laugh. None of them said it was anything to do with anything wrong with the people they were teasing.
There are a few things we can do to help ourselves not to take teasing so personally:
One is to accept that we're not perfect, just as no one else is either. If everyone's got their faults, then it's silly for anyone to single us out and criticise us as if no one's got faults except us. And ours probably aren't really any worse than anyone else's.
And everyone makes mistakes. So if we do something badly, it doesn't mean we're any worse than anyone else, since everyone will have things they're bad at as well as things they're good at, just like we will.
In fact, often, the bad things about us will just be the other side of good things about us. For instance:
and so on.
So we can try to work out what bad things about us are just the other side of good things about us.
Often, we couldn't have our strengths if it wasn't for our weaknesses. For instance, someone who was never quiet couldn't be a good listener, so someone who's too quiet might be a better one than most; and someone who was never stubborn couldn't stand up for themselves very well, so someone who's too stubborn might be extra good at it.
If we get teased because we're much better at something than others, it'll probably just mean the teaser's jealous.
When they say horrible things to us because they can't stand that we're better at something than them or have achieved something they haven't, it's called sour grapes. So we can imagine that whenever they say something nasty, it means they've got a mouth full of sour grapes.
If we're feeling bad about being teased or bullied, and we're blaming ourselves or not having a very good attitude to ourselves, a good thing to do is to ask ourselves how we'd react if a best friend of ours was being bullied or teased like we are. If we'd treat them with a lot of sympathy, care and understanding, why should we treat ourselves any less well?
If we behave towards ourselves the way we'd behave towards a best friend, then at least we'll know we'll always have one good friend - ourselves.
And if a teaser's making us feel bad or embarrassed to do something we really like doing, but there isn't a really good reason why we shouldn't do it, we shouldn't let them intimidate us into not doing it. It's stupid for someone to tease another person just because they like things that are different from the things the teaser likes. There are probably lots of cool people who like what we like. If we don't know many, it doesn't mean they don't exist. Everyone's different, and people are entitled to have different interests and hobbies. So we shouldn't feel bad about enjoying ours.
Some teasers like to make us think that the things we enjoy aren't very good or are so stupid they're only worth laughing at. if we start to believe them, we're letting the opinion of maybe one, or perhaps a few more, people make us feel bad about the things we like, when there might be hundreds and thousands of people out there who are really smart who do like it. Who said our teasers know everything about what's cool to do and what's not! Just because they like to think they do, doesn't mean we have to believe them.
And they tease us because they like teasing, not because there's something wrong with us. So even if we changed to be more like them, or stopped doing what we liked because they persuaded us it wasn't cool, chances are they'd just find something else to tease us for!
If we think about the bullying a lot, it's easy to start thinking our whole life's ruined, and to forget any good things that are happening in it. But this just makes us more miserable. So it can help our mood if we start to take note of and think about and be thankful for any good things that do happen in our lives. They could be food we like the taste of, family members we get on with, things we enjoy doing, friends, having weekends to ourselves without having to put up with the teasing, or lots of other things.
The more we think about the things that are going right in our lives, the less we'll be thinking about the bullying, so the less upset we'll be. And thinking about all the good things we can think of should make us feel happier.
We could have a set time of day to count as many things about the day we can be grateful for as we can think of, perhaps before we go to bed. And maybe when we wake up in the morning, we can feel grateful for as many things as we can think of as well.
It's not nice not to be liked, but it doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with us. If people don't like us, it doesn't mean there's a good reason for it. In fact, people don't like other people for the silliest of reasons sometimes, like that they like music that isn't thought of as cool, even if it's good music really, or that they're not fashionable enough, even though it's what someone's like as a person that's the important thing, not the way they look!
Some of the people in history who did really good things for others weren't liked by some people. Some people who were trying to do good things for other people, and even save lives, had all kinds of cruel things said about them by people who didn't want them to help those people, because it would ruin plans they had that although they would be bad for those people if they were allowed to happen, they would be good for them personally, and they were only caring about themselves.
It's not important to be one of the popular crowd. Studies have found that a lot of the time, popular kids are just thought popular because they themselves think they're cool, and they believe it so much that other kids are convinced they're cool as well. But they're often not very nice really, even if they do wear the latest fashions or whatever. They're often nasty to other kids. They say or do hurtful things. Just because they think they're better than others and cool, it doesn't mean they are.
So it's better to find friends who really care about us, instead of trying to get with the "popular" crowd where something bad might happen to us. Real friends don't do nasty things to us.
If we're upset because some people don't like us, we can tell ourselves things that might help us feel better about it, things like:
"Some people like us and some people don't. That's just the way life is. It probably happens to everyone."
"I don't want to be liked if it means doing and saying what other people want me to all the time."
"Sometimes it's best to disagree with people even if it does mean not being liked."
"I'm just as good as anyone else, no matter who likes me and who doesn't."
"If some people don't like me, that's up to them; but I don't see why I should let it worry me."
If we're being teased because of a mistake we made, or someone doesn't like us because of it, or we're being teased because we didn't do something as well as they did or as well as we know we can do it sometimes, we can at least reassure ourselves by thinking we're not the only one who makes mistakes, and no one's perfect. Everyone in the world probably makes mistakes sometimes. After all, even the top footballers, who cost a lot of money, make mistakes, and they do it in front of loads of people, so at least we probably won't be doing that! And someone can play badly one day, but really well the next week. No one's on top form all the time.
So we might be able to cheer ourselves up a bit by thinking things like:
"I'm no worse than anyone else really; it's normal for people to make mistakes."
"These things happen."
"I'll try better next time."
"It's normal not to do everything perfectly."
"Everyone has bad days."
"It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough, and that's what counts."
Exercise can make us feel happier, if we can find an exercise we enjoy. It can work off nervous energy, and it releases feel-good hormones in the brain, so we can feel happier for a while after we've finished the exercise, as well as more relaxed.
And a good helping of good healthy food can make us feel more contented as well. Too much food can make us feel too tired, and too little food can make us feel restless. It's easy to eat too much or too little if we feel miserable. But if we can eat a sensible amount, and we're mainly eating things that are good for us, we can end up feeling better.
One thing that can make us feel depressed is the news on radio or television, or programmes about things that might upset us like diseases or wars. So if we don't have to watch depressing things, it's best not to. It's best to watch television programmes we enjoy or that make us laugh. Laughter can be very good for us, because it can help us release tension and put us in a better mood. When we're in a better mood, we can feel more confident about being able to deal with problems and more relaxed about things, so problems can seem less bad, and we can think more clearly about how to deal with them.
That's because when we feel hurt, we can just feel as if we're helpless to do anything about what's happened, or that we want to hide or something, and we don't feel as if we've got all that much energy. But when we feel angry, we feel full of energy, so we'll be much better able to do something about the bullying.
That doesn't mean hitting anyone or doing anyone any damage. We can use the anger energy to help us in good ways.
For instance, if someone teased us for being clever enough to come top in school tests, feeling hurt about it might make us a bit scared of doing well, and we might feel too miserable to concentrate properly on learning up for our next test. But feeling angry might make us think, "Who does that person think they are, teasing me over such a silly thing as how well I do in a test! I'll show them that I'm not going to be scared into doing badly by them!" And our anger might give us the energy and motivation to concentrate even harder on learning so we can do even better in the test to show them they can't scare us! And we're more likely to be in the mood to try things to stop the teasing, like talking back to them.
Being angry doesn't mean hurting people. It can mean having the energy to plan better ways of getting what we want.
We can use anger to give us the energy to get things done. But we need to control it so we don't just lose our temper. One way of controlling it is that when we feel a flash of anger, instead of doing something immediately, we give it a chance to calm down a bit by stopping to think to ourselves, "I'm feeling angry now". We don't have to worry about being angry, because anger's only bad if we do something bad with it. Otherwise, the energy we get from it can help us do what's best for us.
So when we feel a flash of anger, it can be good if before we do anything too hasty, we count to ten under our breath to give it a chance to calm down a bit. Or we could look around the room and name ten objects under our breath, which might take longer than counting to ten so we should feel calmer by the time we've finished. But all the while we're counting, we should hold on to the anger energy so it doesn't completely go away.
After that, we can use the anger energy to help us decide what the best thing would be to do next and to get on and do it. Anger can make us bold enough to do things we might normally feel too timid to do.
It's easy to be irritated by what bullies and teasers do and to feel angry about it all day. But while we're at home, making ourselves unhappy by still being angry over what they did, they're probably enjoying themselves. Our anger isn't affecting them at all. It's just making our own lives more miserable.
So it can help if we can think, "Why should I let thoughts of someone like you ruin my day?" and try to just let the anger go. That can feel like a victory over them in a way, because it means they're not getting to us the way they would probably like to.
There are several things we can do to help ourselves cope with being teased, either by putting the teaser off teasing us, or by stopping it upsetting us so much.
But then, if the teasing doesn't upset us so much, chances are, we won't get teased so much anyway, because teasers often tease for the fun of getting an emotional reaction. So if they're not getting one any more, they might just get bored.
It's best that we don't do anything nasty to the teaser, because we might get in trouble ourselves then, and because it might make the teaser say even worse things to us. But there are still things we can do to put them off teasing us.
There are several things mentioned in these books, and we can do whichever ones we like the sound of.
A lot of taunts teasers use aren't even true. So if we ask ourselves whether what someone said to us is true and realise it isn't at all, we can feel a lot less upset about it.
If there isn't an obvious answer as to whether the tease is true or not, we can ask ourselves whose opinion matters most, the teaser's or ours. For instance, if we're eating something we enjoy for lunch and a teaser tells us they think it's disgusting and makes fun of us for eating it, we can ask ourselves whose opinion counts most. They might be saying it's disgusting for silly reasons, and exaggerating a lot because they just feel like being nasty. And after all, just because they don't like it, it doesn't mean everyone should or will think it's disgusting. They're being silly if they think everyone should think its bad just because they don't like it. And most people might not agree with what they're saying at all, even if they don't say so. People like different things, and there's nothing wrong with that. Not everyone needs to like the same things. One opinion isn't any better than another when it comes to things like whether people like the taste of something, or what music they like, or whatever. So a tease that says something's bad just because the teaser doesn't happen to like it is just silly really.
When people say horrible things about us, it can help us not get upset if we try to ignore them and think something nice about ourselves instead, such as thinking about a compliment someone's given us, or something we know we do well.
There was a little girl who was teased about being fat because she was slightly overweight, who would casually look away while the teasing was going on, and think about how she knew she was a good friend to people, because she had lots of friends.
So we can first think of all the good things about ourselves that we can when we've got time when we're on our own, or even when we're with friends who we can ask what they like about us, and then remind ourselves of some when we're being teased, so the teasing doesn't bother us so much.
Sometimes it can help if as soon as we're teased, we think to ourselves something like, "I'm not going to get angry or upset about this", or "I'm not going to let this teaser get the pleasure of thinking he's powerful enough to get a strong reaction from me".
Or we could think something like, "I don't like being teased, but I can handle it. It's not the end of the world."
Or maybe we could think something like, "This person wants to be cruel to someone for one reason or another. But I'm not going to let it get to me". The teasing might have a lot more to do with them than it has to do with us really.
Thinking things like that will take our attention away from what the teaser's saying so it doesn't upset us so much, as well as calming us down because of what the thoughts are saying.
One thing that can sometimes help people not to react with anger or get upset about being teased is if they first think about how they get teased, so they're prepared for it a bit, and when it happens, they think "STOP!" firmly to themselves, to stop their feelings getting stronger.
When they've done that, they can remind themselves that STOP stands for words in a sentence here. It stands for: "Stop. Think about Options, and Plan what to do".
So that means first saying Stop! to ourselves as soon as the teasing starts so we get distracted from the teasing so our feelings don't make us so upset and angry.
Then, we think about what we can do about the teasing.
This kind of method can take a lot of practice before we can do it automatically. Sometimes, it can help if we get a friend or people in our family to practice with us, with them pretending to be the teaser, and us practising responding by thinking Stop and then thinking of things we could say or do next.
It can help if we practice all the strategies we might use to stop teasing upsetting us. If we can, we could get friends or family members to practice with us, where they have to say horrible things to us as if they're teasing us, and we have to pretend we're being teased, and practice doing things that'll stop us getting so upset, like asking ourselves whether the tease is true, asking ourselves whether it's a sensible thing to say or whether it's just silly like criticising us for something that isn't really bad at all, reminding ourselves of something nice about ourselves, and so on.
One way of rehearsing that can work is if a friend or family member starts off by saying to someone who's having to cope with teasing something they'll probably find amusing like, "That clothes peg on the end of your nose looks funny. Why do you always clip clothes pegs on the end of your nose?"
The person will probably laugh, since that's such a funny thing to say. But then the friend or family member can say something like, "Why are you such a total idiot?"
Before the other person has the chance to get upset about the question, the one who's been pretending to be the teaser can ask them whether it's actually true that they're a total idiot. No one's a total idiot! So when they think about it and realise it isn't true, they can ask themselves why it upsets them if it isn't true; and they'll have practice in doing that, so the next time a teaser says something horrible, it'll be a more automatic reaction for them to ask themselves whether it's true, so the tease won't upset them so much.
And the more we practice, the more automatically we'll start to think things that mean the teases don't upset us so much.
We could maybe practise responding in different ways in turn when we get teased, for instance we could practice asking ourselves whether the tease is true for a while, and then practice asking ourselves whether it's sensible, and then practice thinking nice things while it's going on, and then practice thinking something to calm us down, and so on.
We could maybe practice with our family around the dinner table or in the car or wherever, with them pretending to tease us.
Sometimes, perhaps we could pretend to be the teaser, and the friend or family member we're practising with could pretend to be the one who's being teased, using the same techniques to stop teasing upsetting them. They could say the kinds of things out loud that it would be good for us to think when we're being teased, to help us get the hang of it more.
It might take a while before we can stop teases upsetting us altogether by thinking things to ourselves that stop us feeling upset or angry. In the meantime, we might still get upset by horrible things people say before we manage to think things that stop us getting upset. But that won't mean we're just no good at stopping teasing upsetting us. It'll just mean we have to practice some more.
And when we rehearse with friends or family, we can pretend the very same thing that made the teaser tease us is happening again and we're being teased for it again, so we can think about how we can respond next time if it really does happen again.
So, for instance, if someone was upset because they were playing in a team at school and something they did made the team lose and all the others said horrible things to them, they could imagine it happening again, but instead of getting upset, they could do things like imagining reminding themselves that they are good at some things and they've helped their team win sometimes.
Ignoring teasing comments can make a teaser get bored and go away after a while. That's because a lot of teasers tease because they think it's fun when the person they're teasing gets upset or irritated. They think it's fun to know they can have that effect on a person whenever they tease them. They sometimes find the reactions of the people they're teasing a bit of a laugh. It's not very nice, but that's just how they are. They don't think about how the other person's really feeling. Teasing can even be addictive in a way, because of the fun and excitement they get when they get a reaction, so the more often they get one, the more they'll often tease.
So because they often end up teasing the person just for the fun of getting a reaction from them, depriving them of that reaction will sometimes be the best tactic someone can use against them. The teasers will quite possibly be disappointed they're not getting the reaction, and bored into going away in the end.
Ignoring them doesn't mean standing there all tensed up not saying anything in a way that the teaser knows they're still getting to us. We can pretend to be looking at something else instead and behave as if we just can't hear them or that they're boring us so we aren't interested in what they're saying, or start doing something else and pretend we're so absorbed in it we just aren't noticing the teaser. After all, once we know what nonsense teasers talk sometimes so we don't let it get to us so much, chances are we really won't be interested in what they're saying, and we really will get to think it's so boring we've just got better things to do than listen.
Or we could casually walk away and join other children if we can do that without looking as if we're scared of the teaser.
A lot of people don't like ignoring people who are teasing them, because they think it makes them look weak, or they want to defend themselves. But the trouble with reacting to teasers is that arguments can get worse and worse, until the victim of the teasing might get punished for causing a nuisance. You know how it is - often, the victim's the one who gets punished, because the teacher comes in just at the moment they're losing their temper after the teaser's been saying worse and worse things.
Reacting to a teaser can give them an excuse to say worse things. If it started out as a mild tease, the teaser might not be able to carry it on if they just get ignored. But when the person being teased says something back or gets angry or upset in a way that gives the teaser more things to tease them about, then the teaser has an excuse to tease them more. And the more the person being teased responds, the more risk there is that the teaser will have more things they can use to tease them with, or the more excuse the teaser has to be horrible to them, especially if the one being teased does things like losing their temper and it makes the teaser laugh. It can even turn into bullying, with the teaser getting violent.
The person being teased might be able to avoid having to hear worse things about themselves, possibly being punished, and risking being bullied, if they ignore the teasing.
The trouble is that if a person starts ignoring the teasing after being used to reacting to it by getting angry or upset and accidentally giving the teaser some fun, the teaser might tease them worse, thinking that if they do more, they might get the same reaction again that they used to. It might even take weeks before they finally realise they're not going to get a reaction any more and get bored and go away, and every single time they tease during that time, they need to be ignored, or they'll keep teasing, thinking that all they have to do is try hard enough and then they'll be rewarded by getting a reaction. It's easier to ignore people who've only just started teasing you.
If we want to try ignoring a teaser for some time till they get bored and go away, it can help if we think things to ourselves to encourage ourselves, like, "I can outlast the teaser", or "Controlling my reaction is the bravest thing I can do".
Ignoring them probably won't be the best thing to do all the time, since sometimes, it'll just annoy us too much. But it can certainly be something we can do if a tease is so cruel we just don't know what to do. Some teases are so mean and stupid that saying anything in response might make it seem as if we take them more seriously than they deserve to be taken.
We can get used to ignoring teasers if we practice with friends or family. We can practice looking happy or uninterested while they pretend to tease us. We could ask them to show us what they think they look like when they're happy and uninterested, and we can see if we think they're doing a good job, and if they are, we can try and practice imitating them, paying attention to their facial expression as well as their posture, and they can tell us whether we're doing a good job. And then they can pretend to tease us to see if we can keep it up while they do. And that kind of thing.
If we think a teaser genuinely doesn't mean to upset us but just doesn't realise how we feel about what they're doing, and we can be fairly sure they'd stop teasing us if they did know, and they're paying enough attention to what we're saying to be able to take it in, there are ways we can express our feelings without annoying them by making it sound as if we're accusing them of something bad. If they're not annoyed by what we say, they're more likely to be sympathetic and do what we want.
So with a teaser like that, instead of saying something like, "You really annoy me", which would sound as if we're blaming them for our feelings so they'll get annoyed with us and be thinking about what horrible thing to say to us back, We can say something more like, "I feel sad when you say that".
Letting them know how we feel, and using words like, "I feel" or "I don't like it when", at the beginning of the sentence, rather than blaming words like, "You make me", or, "Why do you always", can make the person more likely to feel sympathetic towards us and sorry about what they've been doing.
It will only work with a teaser who isn't that horrible really, though, or they'll make fun of us for our feelings, like calling us a cry-baby.
And it will only work if we really think we can get the teaser's attention, because sometimes, teasers are so engrossed in what they're saying that they just don't listen to what's being said back to them; they just carry on teasing anyway. So it'll work better if they haven't got any distractions and are listening to us properly.
But with a teaser who just might feel sorry about what they've been doing if they realise how we feel about it, a good way to say a sentence like that is to start off by saying how we feel; then tell them what makes us feel like that, probably meaning their teasing; and then tell them we'd like them to stop it.
So our sentence might start with:
So, for example, someone might say something like:
"I feel annoyed when you make fun of me because I wear glasses. I have to wear them because my eyesight's bad. Please stop it."
Or, "I don't like it when you make fun of me for running slowly. I can't run any faster. I'd like you to stop teasing me."
Or, "I feel embarrassed when you laugh when I give the wrong answer in class. It's not my fault. I don't want you to do it any more."
That kind of thing.
It can take a bit of practice before we remember to use sentences like that instead of showing how upset or annoyed we are by maybe saying something nasty back. But it's worth reminding ourselves to use them till we get the hang of using them automatically, since being nasty back can just make things get worse.
Talking like that can also stop arguments starting with friends or someone in the family. The technique isn't just useful when we're being teased, but when they do anything we don't like. Sometimes, they might say something we find upsetting, but they might not realise we did, because they didn't mean it to be upsetting, or they might not have meant it in the way we took it. But if we say something that sounds like an accusation, they might get angry with us, but if we just tell them how we feel, they'll be more likely to explain what they really meant and apologise.
For instance, someone might say something in a playful way, but we think they're being nasty. If we say something nasty back, they might be angry and so they'll be nasty back to us.
Or they might laugh at something and we think they're laughing at us because we've just dropped something perhaps, or done something else we think they might look down on, but they might really be laughing at something different. If we angrily accuse them of laughing at us, they might get angry back and an argument might start. But if we say something calm, they're more likely to just calmly explain what they were really laughing at.
That kind of thing.
When we use messages like that, they're more effective if we look confident when we're saying them, looking directly at the teaser and standing or sitting up straight so we look as if we mean business, so they respect what we're saying more.
We could practice saying things looking confident, imagining we're talking to a teaser, looking at ourselves in a mirror so we can see how well we're doing.
And for the same reason, we should make an effort to speak clearly, not mumbling or whining, but talking as if we have authority and deserve respect. But we mustn't shout at them in an angry way, or it'll make them annoyed so they'll want to say something nasty to us. But if we behave as if we deserve respect, we're more likely to get it, because teasers often go for people who don't seem confident and are timid, because they think they'll be easier targets.
Sometimes, people just won't listen the first time. They'll try to just ignore what we say, hoping we'll give up, or they'll say something nasty back. At times like that, if we want our way, it's important to keep telling them what we want again and again till they finally get the message.
If they still get nastier, it's best just to leave them alone and get help. But if they're just being a nuisance and we can handle them, then repeating our message about what we want could make the difference between getting it and not getting it. It could make the difference between them stopping teasing us and teasing us some more.
So, for example, if someone was playing a game and a bigger kid came up to them and said they were being babyish, they could maybe say,
I feel angry when you say that. This game's just a bit of fun. I want you to stop talking like that".
The teaser might say something like,
"Hey, I'm older than you. I'll speak to you how I like."
The one being teased could maybe say,
"Yes, but I don't want you to say that."
The teaser might say something like,
"It's about time kids like you learned some respect."
The person being teased could answer,
"You might be right. But I still don't want you to say that."
That kind of thing.
Some teasers will get fed up and go away if the person they're teasing keeps saying a similar thing to them.
Saying things like, "You might be right" doesn't mean we agree with them. It just means we're saying they might be right, even if we secretly think they probably aren't. But saying they might be right might save us arguing with them.
We can make fun of the words we're being teased with in our minds, to stop them bothering us.
If we know the tease we're being teased with is just rubbish really, or we're being teased about something it's stupid to tease us about, we could have a go at imagining the teasing words are objects, like tennis balls or footballs maybe, and that we have to stop them hitting us, or bat or kick them away.
We can imagine all kinds of funny things.
We could imagine teases are soft balls that just bounce off us.
Or we could imagine we're surrounded by metal, and the teasing words are like darts being thrown at us, but when they hit us, they just go ping and bounce off us onto the floor.
Or we could imagine ourselves hitting the teases away with a tennis racket or baseball bat or something.
Or if we imagine they're like footballs, we could imagine kicking them right down the football pitch.
Or we could imagine trampling the teases and bad words underfoot, squashing them to bits.
Or we could imagine jumping into a swimming pool and splashing the teases away.
Or we could imagine we're ice-skating, and the tease is something in front of us that we can push, and it'll go skidding off across the skating rink.
Or we could imagine the teases are words on paper that we cross out or draw all over.
Or we could imagine we're gardening, and putting the teases in a hole we've dug and putting lots of earth on them to bury them.
Or we could imagine the teases are water in the sink, and we take the plug out so they go down the plughole.
Or we could imagine doing the vacuum cleaning and the teases are on the floor being sucked up.
Or we could pretend we're doing magic tricks in front of an audience, and that we can impress them by making it seem as if we make the teases just disappear.
Or we could imagine the teases are like fat in something like sausages, and we're cooking the sausages, and the teases, which are the fat, are just spattering out into the bottom of the pan to be thrown away later or something. Or we could imagine they're the food being cooked, and then we chew them up into little bits and eat them.
Or we could imagine the teases are moisture in bread or something, and we put it in the toaster, and it dries out so the teases disappear.
There are loads of things we could imagine. We might be able to think of some fun ones of our own.
We should make sure we're not thinking of doing something violent or hurtful to the person teasing us, in case we get tempted to do something bad to them for real. But we could make a good game out of pretending to do funny things to the things they say to us.
Or we could imagine something really nice, like that we're just ignoring the tease, reminding ourselves not to be angry about it, and drifting off onto a beach in the sun where we can relax and do something we enjoy.
If we like the idea, we could get ourselves more familiar with what we decide to do by drawing pictures of us doing the things we think would be fun to do with the teasing words. The more we practice pretending to do things with them, the more automatically we'll start to pretend to do things like that when we're being teased.
People who tease often do it because for some reason, they just think it's so much fun when the person being teased gets upset. So if we stop reacting in an upset way, and even make out that we're pleased about something they're doing when they tease us, then they can get bored and stop.
So we can perhaps try saying things like,
"I notice you think it's worth giving me a lot of attention."
Or, "That's a clever thing to say."
Or, "Thanks for your opinion."
Or, "You haven't paid me this much attention for ages."
Or, "It's nice that you look at me enough to notice these things."
Or, "It's amazing to me that you always notice what I'm wearing or doing."
That kind of thing.
Someone being called "four eyes" for wearing glasses, for instance, might just say, "Thanks for noticing my glasses."
Some teasers just get bored and go away when people say that kind of thing to them so they think they're not getting to them.
Some people tease other people about things which are really good things, but the teaser wants to make out they're something to be ashamed of. For instance, someone who knows a lot of things might be called a walking dictionary or walking encyclopedia or something by someone whose jealous. They can stop it sounding like a horrible tease by saying something like, "Thanks for noticing. I'm proud of what I can do." Or even just, "I take that as a compliment."
A girl who was teased by someone who was jealous because she had so many friends who were boys said, "I'm proud and happy to have so many friends who are boys."
People can find nice things in even horrible teases. For instance, if a teaser says, "The food you brought from home looks like vomit. How can you eat that?" the person being teased could respond, "I see you're really concerned about what I'm eating."
It can help if we practice making comments like that with friends who are pretending to tease us, to make it easier to make such comments when we're teased for real.
A boy told a girl with red hair that her hair reminded him of spaghetti. She stopped that sounding like a horrible tease by saying, "I love spaghetti."
A boy turned to a girl next to him in class and said in a horrible way that he noticed she had a bad grade on the test they'd just done. She said, "I see that you're really concerned about my grade." He didn't want to be thought of as being concerned about her, so he immediately turned back to his work.
It can stop us being so bothered by being teased if friends and family pretend to tease us with us practising what we can say. They could even suggest things we could say to teasers, which could be good fun, though it's important that we stick with what we feel comfortable saying.
It might be that we can turn teasers' comments around so we end up saying something good about ourselves. For instance, if someone said, "You couldn't play sports to save your life", we might be able to say that yes, all people are good and bad at different things, and while we might be no good at sports, we're good at something else.
If we make an effort to ignore the horrible tone in their voice, and just answer as if they made a harmless comment, it can be easier.
If a tease is actually true, but the teaser's just making out that it's something to be ashamed of when it isn't really, agreeing with the facts of what the teaser's saying can make them be quiet, because if we say we know it's true, they can't use it as a tease against us any more, so they might not know what to say any more.
So, for instance, a teaser might say, "You've got so many freckles!" They might mean it as a criticism, but it's stupid to criticise someone about something like that. So we don't need to be ashamed of having freckles like they want us to be. We can just say in a matter-of-fact way, "Yes, I have a lot of freckles."
Or even if a child's crying and a teaser says, "You're such a cry-baby!" the child can behave as if crying's nothing at all to be ashamed of and say, "Yes, I do cry easily."
A little girl was criticized by a teaser who said, "You read so slowly!" She answered, "True, I'm not a fast reader." The teaser didn't tease her about that again.
The more confident and happy we can seem when we're agreeing with them, the more we're likely to put them off teasing us. We could perhaps practice with friends, where they make comments about us, and we practice smiling, looking them in the eye and agreeing with the bare facts of what they say.
It's silly to tease people about something they can't do anything about, or something that isn't their fault.
Sometimes, we can even turn the tease into a comedy sketch where we come out looking the best, by making out that what they think is wrong with us is much much worse than it really is.
For example, if a teaser said, "You're so fat!" we might be able to stop them teasing us about that by saying something like, "I know! It's because I swallowed a dog whole once - I was so hungry after walking it because it made me go so fast. Now I'm so fat that I can lie on the floor and my stomach will nearly touch the ceiling!"
If the people around us think what we say is amusing and they laugh, that might put the teaser off teasing us even more, because they like to be the ones being admired and thought of as funny, not the one they're teasing. Or they might think it's funny themselves and start laughing, and then we might even end up friends.
But if we can't think of anything witty like that, it might be enough just to agree with them, like saying, "Yes, I'm not very good at this game" or whatever.
Sometimes, after a response like that, the teaser will stand there hoping we'll say something that shows we're upset after all, that they can use to tease us some more with. But we can just get on with something else or walk away.
It's best to only use this technique if there really is some truth in what the teaser says. Agreeing with something we really don't believe will just make us feel uncomfortable, and people won't respect us for it. For instance, if someone wanted to be a nurse when they grew up and a teaser said, "You'll never make a good nurse", when they knew there was no reason why they shouldn't, it would be best to use a different strategy to make the teaser stop saying it, rather than agreeing with them.
But for teases with some truth in them, it can work.
Even saying very simple things can work sometimes. For instance, we could say things like:
"I've heard people say that a lot."
"You've got that right."
"There's some truth in that."
We should only say a mere few words in agreement with them like that if we're not too bothered about the thing they're teasing us about, so we don't get upset because we're not defending ourselves. For instance, someone who wears braces on their teeth and gets teased about that should only agree with the teaser if they've convinced themselves there's nothing at all wrong with having braces.
So part of preparing to use a strategy like that should involve convincing ourselves that there's nothing really wrong with a lot of the things we might get teased about. For instance, someone with braces on their teeth could sit down and think about whether there really is anything wrong with having them. After all, people do get teased about stupid things that are nothing to be ashamed of really.
Another thing we could do is say things like, "You might be right" or "Could be", that makes it sound as if we might agree with them, when we don't really. We're saying they might be right, not that they are.
Whatever we say, we should again sound and look confident, looking at them as if they're not bothering us at all.
Practising with friends and family where they pretend to be teasing us and we answer them will make us better at it, if we can do that.
Chances are, teasers will just get bored if they don't think they can get us all offended or upset by teasing us. So if we behave as if we just don't care what they say, or don't understand why they think it's worth even bringing up the subject, they're more likely to get bored and go away. If we give them the impression that we don't understand why they're making a fuss about it rather than saying something nasty back, they'll have less to say to us, since saying something nasty to them will probably make them angry so they'll say worse things; but giving them the idea that we just don't understand why they're making a big deal out of what they're teasing us about will hopefully mean they run out of things to say. After all, when we think about it, we'll probably have to come to the conclusion that they really do make a great big deal out of things that really aren't important!
So whenever they say something to tease us, we could just say something like, "So?" in a calm and relaxed way, so they don't think they're getting to us at all. We shouldn't say it in a sarcastic-sounding way, so they don't get offended and want to say something worse to us. But just in a calm way.
So, for example, if they said, "You must be the fattest person in the class!" the person being teased could just calmly say, "So?"
Teasers often just don't know what to say to that, so they give up.
Other things like that we could say could be things like:
"Your point being?"
When said in a calm and relaxed way so the teaser doesn't think they're getting to us, that can be an easy and effective technique to use, so even the youngest children can use it, since it doesn't involve remembering to say lots of different things, and if the teasers don't know what to say and think teasing us is boring, chances are, they'll go away.
If they do say something else, we might be able to just say something like "So?" or "So what?" again, and again if they say something critical after that, and again and again, till they get tired of it.
Maybe if they say something like, "Is that all you can say?" we could say something like, "You might be right. So?"
We could mix that technique with other ones sometimes. So perhaps if someone called another person "Dork", for example, they could answer with both the "So?" technique, and the one of agreeing with anything that's true in what the teaser says, even if there's only a grain of truth in it, and say something like, "I'm not much good at this. So? I'm good at other things."
Whatever we say, it'll be best if we can look and sound calm and confident when we say it, or as if we just don't care what they said. We could shrug our shoulders when we answer.
Sometimes, when people ask us questions, they don't really want to know the answer. They're just asking because they want to get into an argument with us about it or make fun of what we say. So it might be best not to try and explain ourselves, but to just answer saying something short, that'll hopefully put them off bothering to ask any more.
Sometimes, it can work if we say things like, "because I want to", or "because I like it".
So, for example, if a teaser asked, "Why do you listen to such trashy music?" it probably wouldn't be worth getting into an argument over whether it's trashy or not, and it won't be worth us getting upset about what they say, especially since their opinion of it is no more important than ours, and it is just an opinion after all, so one short answer could be, "Because I want to."
Or if they asked, "Why do you wear such ugly clothes?" we could perhaps answer, "Because I want to."
Or they might ask something like, "Why do you always wear the same thing?" and we could answer something like, "Because I like it."
Or they might ask something like, "Where did you get those horrible gloves?" and we could answer, "I got them when I was out shopping, because I like them."
If they still criticize them after we say that, we could fob them off by saying, "You might be right, but I like them."
After all, it's only their opinion that will be making them think they look bad, and their opinion of something like that won't be any better than ours.
If they still don't shut up, sometimes it can work if we just keep repeating things like that, such as saying things like, "Maybe that's true, but I like them."; and "I appreciate that's your opinion, but I like them."
If we can sound confident and cheerful when we say things like that so they know they aren't getting to us, we've got more chance of putting them off teasing us.
We don't have to let their opinions upset us. They might think one thing, but lots of other people might think something totally opposite; so if they call something we're wearing horrible or something, it doesn't mean it is. Lots of people might think it's nice. So we don't have to let their opinions bother us. And even if it isn't nice, ... so what?
Sometimes, if someone teases another person and they say something nice to them in response, the teaser stops. If we say something nice about a person, they might feel more friendly towards us.
So if someone was being teased because they couldn't run very fast, they might say to their teaser, "You're a brilliant runner. I'd love to be able to run as fast as you." That's if the teaser was a good runner of course.
Or if someone was being teased for being overweight, they might say, "Yes, I ought to go on a diet really. I hope I'm as slim as you one day."
If we make the teaser feel proud of themselves, chances are they'll feel too good to want to tease us any more.
It might take a lot of practice before this technique comes easily to us, especially since we won't feel like complimenting someone who's just said something nasty to us, and because we might have to think before we can work out what we can compliment them about that has anything to do with what they're teasing us about. But we could get a friend or family member to pretend to be them and say the things they do to us, so we can practise complimenting them on something. And then we can try it out for real.
Again, we need to look and sound confident when we answer.
We shouldn't overdo the complimenting, or make it seem as if we're sucking up to them, or they'll think they've got the better of us and tease us some more in the hope of getting even more compliments so they can feel even more superior to us. Just a short compliment every now and then should do.
Complimenting them might not turn them into our friends, but it might stop the teasing.
Anyone who's good at using humour when they're a bit stressed might be able to use it sometimes when they're being teased, as long as the tease isn't about something that hasn't got a funny side at all. Using humour to deal with other types of teasing can make the situation less stressful, and if it ends in a good laugh, it can stop the teasing.
So, for instance, anyone who was called a chicken could make clucking noises and behave like one for a bit. Or if someone's being teased for taking a long time to do something, it might work if they say something like, "I come from a family of snails."
Even just smiling or laughing or saying, "You're funny!" in a smiling way can put the teaser off.
We'll probably have to rehearse that kind of thing a lot before we use humour. But then, since teasers can be so repetitive in the things they say, we can probably think of something really good before they've stopped teasing us about what they're teasing us about.
If we can use humour, it shouldn't be the kind of joke that makes the teaser look bad, because if it is, they'll just get annoyed and want to say worse things to us.
But it can be a joke that takes any hurtfulness out of the tease and makes fun of it.
So, for example, if a teaser said,
"When you walk you waddle like a duck!" the person being teased could say in a fake very shocked voice,
"A duck?! What? Do you think I might be turning into one then?! Quick! Call my parents!"
Or a teaser might say something like,
"You'll never be good-looking with such a big nose!"
The person being teased could answer in a fake exaggerated boastful voice,
"That might be true but it doesn't matter; I'm too important to care; I'll have you know my nose is so big it's in the Guinness book of world records!"
Or perhaps a teaser might say something like,
"Who taught you to do sports, your grandma?"
The person being teased might say,
The teaser might follow up by saying,
"It looks like it!"
And the person being teased could say something like,
"Actually it was my great grandma mostly, and she had some good moves for someone of 93."
Or perhaps a teaser might say something like,
"Why don't you grow up and stop behaving like a baby?!"
The one being teased could say something like,
"But I am a baby! A big one, but I'm still a baby. Actually, it's about time I had my bottle. Can you go and ask the teacher if I can have one?"
If the person being teased is unlucky, the teaser might come back with something like,
"Do you need the teacher to change you as well?"
But the one being teased could maybe come back with something like,
"Yeah, go and ask for me, please. In fact, I dare you to bring the teacher here and then ask, so we know you're really doing it."
Chances are the teaser will back down then.
There is a risk when using humour though, as there is with any other technique, that the teaser will come back with something worse and we won't know what to say. But the more we practice, the better we'll get at coming up with things that put them off altogether.
We might have to experiment with several techniques before we find the one that works best for us, but it's worth carrying on trying if we make mistakes at first or if one doesn't work for us but just makes the teaser say worse things. Other ones might work better for us.
We could pretend we're a reporter or a scientist, collecting teasing phrases, to tell friends or family so they can help us think of things to say or do in response next time we're teased with those things. Then if what we come up with doesn't work, because the teaser says something back and we don't know how to deal with it, we could pretend it's a scientific experiment that didn't go quite to plan, and we're making a record of that like a reporter or a scientist, so we can tell someone we like about it and they can help us think of different things to say or do, as if we're trying a different experiment.
It's important not to hang around teasers if they're starting to get threatening. If we think we might be in danger at all, or the teasing's just getting worse, it's best to leave and go somewhere where there are teachers or other responsible adults around, and to tell adults if we don't feel safe.
If we're still worried about being teased after learning about ways we can try to handle it, there are things we can do to stop ourselves worrying so much.
We should report anyone who's a physical threat to us. But if all they seem to be trying to do is embarrass and humiliate us and say nasty things, we can face up to them. Sometimes, that seems scary. But we can practice being bolder. Often, if we practise facing things we just find a little bit scary at first and end up managing to do them allright, that can make us braver, and if we know we ended up not being scared of them in the end, then we can feel bolder about facing situations we find a bit more scary.
It can take a while for us to think of things we're only a little bit scared of to do at first, but we might think of some. For example, some people are scared to answer questions in class because the teacher makes fun of people who get the answer wrong, although they might kid themselves that it's not to do with being scared of the teacher but for another reason. But if we can think of a way to laugh it off or something if they do make fun of us, and then go for it, answering whatever questions we like, and if we end up not being scared of doing it, we'll know we can do bigger things and end up not being scared of those.
It can help if we make a list of all the things we avoid doing and work out which of those we don't do because we're really a bit scared of doing them. Then we can put them in order of least scary to most scary, and try doing them, from the least to the most scary, doing each several times till we're not scared of it any more.
After that, we should feel less scared of the people teasing us.
There are other things that can help us feel less worried and scared as well:
If we often imagine ourselves as being brave and strong, it can make us feel braver and stronger when bullies are around, because we're more used to thinking of ourselves as brave and strong.
There are ways to do that, even if we don't feel brave and strong at first.
Some people think they can't imagine much of anything at all. But if they were reading a book and it described some scenery a bit and talked about the personalities of the characters, we'd probably have a picture in our minds of what the scenery was like and what the characters looked like. So we can imagine things really.
So to imagine we're brave and strong, first we can relax ourselves by closing our eyes and breathing very slowly in and out for a little while, thinking only about our breathing. That should calm our minds down, so it's easier to think of what we want, since loads of other thoughts won't be trying to crowd it out, since we're only concentrating on breathing. The best thing is if we breathe through our nose, as long as it isn't blocked, of course; but breathing through the nose means the air goes in and out more slowly since there's less room for it to get in and out than it would be if we were breathing through the mouth, and the more slowly we breathe, the more relaxed we should start to feel.
After that, still with our eyes closed, we could imagine we're looking from a safe distance at a lion walking contentedly across the planes in Africa, walking through long grass on a bright summer's day, looking as if no-one would dare attack him.
We can try to imagine the scene as vividly as we can, and then we can try to imagine we're the lion. We can imagine we're feeling brave and strong, because we're so big and powerful that no one would dare attack us. So we can walk along feeling absolutely fearless.
If we can imagine that as vividly as we can, we will actually feel fearless and brave while we're imagining it. Then when we're in a situation where we feel scared, we could bring the feelings to mind again so we feel stronger.
It wouldn't have to be a lion; it could be any big strong animal that isn't in danger of being eaten.
To help us imagine being the animal and feeling powerful and strong often, we could collect pictures of our chosen animal and put them on our bedroom wall.
When we get scared, one problem is that we can start to breathe very fast or stop breathing altogether. But those things make us feel worse.
If we remember to notice what our breathing's doing when we feel scared, even just noticing it can mean it starts to go back to normal. We'll automatically breathe more normally once we've noticed it.
If we carry something small in our pockets that reminds us that someone loves us, or that helps us remember a good time we had, we can put a hand on it and it can make us feel more at home when we're a bit scared. It can remind us that even if the person teasing us doesn't like us, other people do, and being with the teaser isn't all that our life is about.
It's best if we have several things we could put in our pocket to choose from, so we don't get upset if we lose one.
So maybe an object we can put in a pocket could be a seashell that reminds us of a good holiday we had, or of how we loved to look out on a really nice view of the sea when we were there; or it could be something small that someone who likes us bought us; something little that reminds us of something we enjoy doing outside school, or whatever, whatever has a nice meaning for us.
Then when we're in a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable, we could comfort ourselves by putting our hand on it so we're reminded of the better things in life. And if that makes us feel more confident, we can deal with the teasing situation better.
The only thing is that we shouldn't rely on it to give us confidence, since if we lose it at school and haven't got anything else, we might feel less confident than we would if we hadn't started relying on it. Our confidence should mainly come from our knowledge of how we're learning to handle situations like that.
One of these books, called Bullies, Bigmouths and So-called Friends, starts off by saying that people who don't feel confident are more likely to get teased, because if teasers think some people look weak, they'll tease them all the more, because they like to pick on people who look as if they won't be able to defend themselves that well, since people like that won't give as good as they get so teasing them will be more fun. And after a while, teasing them can just become a habit teasers enjoy. But the more confident we look, and the more confidently we deal with teasing, the less we'll probably get teased.
If we find ourselves lying in bed at night or sitting in our room or whatever feeling anxious about what's going to happen in the future or feeling bad about what's already happened, we're really just making our lives more miserable than they need to be. So we can remind ourselves that we're allright at the moment by saying something to ourselves like, "Right now, I'm safe."
So for instance, if we're lying in bed feeling scared about what might happen the next day, we can say to ourselves, "Right now, I'm safe. Right now, it's allright to go to sleep."
Any time the people at school who torment us aren't around, which is probably a lot of the time really, we can say to ourselves, "Right now, I'm safe. Right now, it's OK to get on and do what I want to do."
Something that some people find helpful is imagining shutting worries in a little box or jar. So perhaps we could get a box or jar, and then before we go to bed, or before we go to do something we want to enjoy, we could imagine we're picking up our worries and putting them in it, and then we could close it firmly.
That could at least mean we get a better night's sleep than we do when we're spending the night worrying about things, so if things at school aren't any better the next day, we at least won't feel worse about them because of having had not much sleep.
One boy was worried about school, and his little sister gave him a little toy teapot and told him to put his worries in it and put the lid on before he went to bed at night. He didn't see the point, but he thought he'd do it to please her. And after a while, he noticed it really was stopping him worrying so much.
But one day, he got a detention, when the horrible French teacher was having a go at him, and he imagined putting him in the teapot, and couldn't help grinning about it.
If we can learn to put up with a bit of fear, it can give us strength, because we won't keep avoiding things to stop ourselves feeling it. Some of the symptoms of fear actually feel like excitement and eagerness to get on with something, so we might find it helpful to think of mild feelings of fear as more like that, so they don't scare us.
Or we could measure our fear on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being nothing we can't handle, and 10 being a feeling that's really bad, and the other numbers being in between, getting worse as the numbers get higher. Then if we feel a bit scared, we can ask ourselves whereabouts our fear is on the scale, and if we think it isn't that high up on it, we might feel more confident to do things.
Bullies go for people who look a bit fearful, because they think they'll get a bigger reaction and get away with more because the person won't stand up for themselves. Standing up to fear will make us feel braver. And when we do, that can make the bullies less interested in us.
If we practise standing up to fear by doing little scary things first, and when we're used to those we try it with things that frighten us more, then we'll start to feel more confident about putting up with fear, because if we manage to do it with small things first, we'll learn that we can do it, so we'll have more confidence at facing slightly scarier things.
Fear's a good thing really, because if we're in real danger it can keep us safe, by warning us something's wrong and making us want to get away. But when we're in a situation we think we can handle really, then facing up to it and staying in the situation anyway can give us more confidence, because we can realise things aren't as frightening as we thought they were, or as they were before we learned to handle them.
The book called Bullies, Bigmouths and So-called Friends starts off by saying that it can be good to tell someone else if we're being bullied, since even if we think they won't be able to do anything about it, getting things out of the system can make us feel a lot calmer. And sometimes, while we're talking about the problem, we can think of ways of dealing with it that we didn't think of before, especially if the person we're talking to asks us questions that make us think of things we hadn't thought of before.
The book recommends that first, unless it's really serious, we tell someone who won't be able to interfere, since sometimes, if people interfere, bad things can happen, like if they tell our teacher who the person or people are who've been teasing us and the teacher has a go at them for it, and then the person or people who teased us know we must have told on them and they get nastier to us in revenge for it.
So maybe we could even talk to a pet. Or it could be people on an Internet forum where no one else we know goes.
Or to get things out of the system, we could even just write them down rather than telling someone else, like in a diary. Or we could use a blank notebook instead of a diary, since then we can write as much as we want or not write things some days.
But we should stop if writing things down keeps on making us upset, although we might feel upset when we first start but then feel better. If we feel upset when we've finished though, we'll have to think seriously about whether we want to keep on with it.
We need to keep our diary or notebook somewhere where teasers aren't likely to find it, since if they do, they might do horrible things like show bits of it around the school so people we didn't want to know about it do, and tease us about that as well as everything else.
If after that, we still feel as if we need help, we should carefully think about who we can tell and what to say to them.
Keeping a kind of diary can be good anyway, since if we tell people we want help, it can be used as evidence against the people teasing us. And we should keep any abusive emails or text messages and things to use as evidence as well if we need it.
So we can write down the dates and times of when things happened and where they happened, along with the names of the people who teased us, so anyone we tell will know.
Anyone who isn't that good at writing or who just feels like it, could use a picture diary to get things out of the system. That's where we can express our feelings by drawing. For instance, we could draw the teasers as horrible creatures and draw ourselves in a way that represents the way we're feeling. I mean, if we're feeling as if we're a bit scared to go to school because we don't want to be near the teasers, we could draw ourselves as an animal who shies away from humans, maybe a wild rabbit or something. Or if we're feeling cheerful, we could draw ourselves as something brightly-coloured or nice like a flower. We can put some words with it if we want to, and the date and time so we know when we look back later when we drew the pictures. And we can draw backgrounds to them if we want like houses or trees or whatever, with a sun in the sky or whatever we like.
The book says some teasers just don't think about the feelings of the person being teased, and when they find out how upset it makes them, they feel sorry for what they did and stop.
Actually, I remember someone telling me about when she got teased by a lot of people in her class when she first went to a new school, but then one day, she cried in front of a few of them and said she was upset about it, and it stopped after that. But then, it might not work with all teasers.
Anyway, it says in this book that there was a girl whose mother was ill and had to spend lots of time in hospital who had to go and stay with foster parents for a while. Two girls in her class teased her about it. She was already upset that her mum was ill, and the teasing made her more upset. She wrote down her feelings about how upset and scared she was about what would happen to her mum in a diary. And she wrote about how the teasers teased her, and how upset she was about that, and which lessons every day they teased her in and what other times of day they did, and how many times a day.
She plucked up the courage to tell her headmistress about the teasing, and showed her the diary. The headmistress called the two girls who'd been doing the teasing into her office, and read them some of it. They were shocked at what impact their teasing had had. They hadn't thought about how the girl they'd been teasing might feel. They were ashamed of themselves.
They stopped teasing the girl straightaway, and her classmates became a lot more caring towards her after that, and they were pleased when her mum was well enough to come home.
If we want to tell someone about the teasing but don't want them to help just yet, it can be a good idea to say we only want them to listen to us now but if we later want their help or advice, we'll say so.
Even if we would like some advice from them, they might not say anything useful. But even if they don't, it might get easier to tell our story the more we tell it, so it shouldn't be so uncomfortable to tell it to other people, and then we might find someone who can help us.
But then, we might tell people who give us advice that makes things worse at first, before we find someone with really good ideas. For instance, if people are real bullies, and someone advises us to ignore them, ignoring them might make them do worse things. And if someone advises us to tell a teacher, but then all a teacher does is tell them to stop, they might be angry that we told on them and do worse things.
But even if they behave worse at first, if we end up finding someone who does do something effective, then keeping telling on the bullies and proving to them that we won't be intimidated can sometimes make them leave us alone.
Sometimes a teacher might sort it out without having to say anything to the bullies, if we're the only one they're hassling, maybe by letting us sit further away from them or putting them in different groups from us for some things.
One idea that can work is if classrooms have a box where people can tell on bullies anonymously by writing down what they've seen and putting the note in the box. Then it won't be so obvious to a bully that we're the one who told on them. So it might be worth asking teachers if they'll do that, and if they'll think about doing other things to stop bullies as well.
This article is written slightly differently to most articles. It comes with a very short story about someone finding out information to help herself and others who are being teased, - they're not real people but representatives of a lot of others suffering similar things, - and the article's presented as if it's what she's found out.
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Katie is a teenager. Her two best friends are Becky and Jackie. One day, they're in a little group, all talking about how they used to be teased by girls who've now left the school. They go on to talk about how they're worried about their younger brothers and sisters who are starting to get teased. They decide to try to find self-help information on how to stop being teased, so they can help their brothers and sisters, and learn things themselves in case they ever get teased again.
They go to the library and find some self-help books. They each take one or more home, and decide to read them and share what they learn with their friends and their younger brothers and sisters. They think of sharing it with other people as well.
Along with the others, Katie finds a few books, and reads them and decides what to say to the others, her friends, and also her younger sister Sara. She imagines what she'll say to them in her mind.
When she gives them the information, they're grateful and find it useful, and they grow in confidence, thinking they could deal with teasers better.
Note that if you choose to try out some or all of the recovery techniques described in this article, they may take practice before they begin to work.
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