Ideas for Dealing With Bullying and Teasing

We all know the phrase "children can be cruel." While this might be true, and some might argue it's part of growing up, it does leave us wondering how a chronically ill child can deal with the teasing they will most likely experience. Unfortunately, ignoring it won't always make it stop. Bullying has become a serious issue in schools and, for older children and teens, online. While it's important to teach a child not to bully others, parents must also help their children respond to bullies when it's directed at themselves or even at others.

Giving children the coping skills to stop teasing and bullying and to not allow these issues to prevent them from developing a healthy level of self-esteem is vital. Here are a few suggestions for kids with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to head off the teasing that might happen at school.

Role Play Teasing at Home

Sad Boy
Kriss Szkurlatowski

Problem-solving skills can be honed with trusted adults and children before heading to school. Take turns being the "bully" and the "bullied." Help your child to find the best way to deal with the unkind remarks. When a child is able to deal with his fears in a comfortable and loving environment, he will be better able to face them for real.

Use Humor to Deflect Bullying

Humor is a way to disarm the teaser. Help your child prepare some "comeback" remarks. The goal is not to tease the bully back, but to deflect the teasing with a lighthearted attitude.

Don't Respond With Anger or Fear

The child doing the teasing will be encouraged by a strong emotional reaction, such as anger or fear. A different or unexpected response will confuse the child who is doing the teasing.

Use Strong Body Language

Body language is important and can encourage, or discourage, the teaser. Try altering the body language from that of embarrassment and fear, such as looking down or running away to confidence, such as a head held high. In some cases, teaching children some self-defense may be helpful. Martial arts academies often offer training courses that can be anything from short-term self-defense to long-term confidence and conditioning programs. The key is to help and empower children to understand and use their ability to stand up to a bully and prevent future episodes of bullying behavior.

Know That the Teaser May Have Low Self-Esteem

The child being teased should understand that some kids may tease as a way of covering up insecurities and fears. Children who bully or tease may have a difficult time at home or at school, and that could be the cause of their insecurity. This is a difficult concept for children to understand, but older kids and teens may feel some sympathy for a kid who bullies because he is secretly unhappy.

Remember That Some Kids Tease Everyone

Some kids just pick on everyone, and the teasing shouldn't be taken to heart. Next week the teaser may move on to someone else, and the episode will be soon forgotten.

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