My kids and I tease each other, but should there be limits?
There’s my youngest, his knuckles white as they tense around the crayon. He’s drawing a picture of a person with no hair. “Who’s that?” I’ll ask. “It’s YOU, Dad!”, rolling with obvious glee. Ok, ok, I get it.... I’m bald. Later on he’ll ask what’s for supper. “Boiled worms, Jonah”. His face will drop. We’re allowed a little teasing in our house, only sometimes it goes too far, and there are tears from one of my children. It’s mostly just fun, and, along the way, we all learn a little more about how to cope with verbal pressure.
Teasing vs. respect for elders
I can cope with my children laughing at my lack of hair, or even if I stub my toe. Overreacting to them teasing me would be a measure of my own insecurity rather than their ‘rudeness’. That said, if their behaviour becomes too rude or ignore me when I’m trying to get them fed, clothed or bathed, then we hit problems. It’s difficult to teach kids what the boundaries are, though, especially if sometimes teasing is allowed, sometimes it’s not. They’re quite good at teasing me, but they know better than to tease other adults. It’s part of our dynamic, and they know they have to be polite with other grownups.
Keep it in the family?
Fortunately my children are quite sensitive; they wouldn’t mock a classmate until that kid cried, for example. Teasing is strictly reserved for siblings (and dad). No doubt they have been on the receiving end of teasing at school, but the’ rules’ are slightly different there. A sense of humour is one method of dealing with bullying, though, so learning to cope with tough words by responding with a joke may relieve tensions.
I’ve overheard parents taking teasing to extremes, calling their kids too fat, lazy, ‘chicken’ or skinny. I make an effort not to do that, as there are certain labels which come with scars and baggage. My way of coping with teasing is to get them to see me laughing at myself, and not to pick on their personal appearance or characteristics- rather something neutral.
If the teasing gets too rough, your child will relate to empathy. Ask him how he felt when he was being teased, he’ll probably say that he felt sad, unhappy or angry. If you explain that if he teases someone else, that person will also feel that way, then he’ll find it easier to understand.
Do you think teasing is ok within the context of family?
By: Scott Dunlop