When Teasing Ticks You Off . . .

Want to hear something surprising? Everybody gets teased. Ask your mom and your cousin and your next-door neighbor, and they’ll remember a time when someone made fun of them. Yep, everybody gets teased, and nobody likes it.

How does it feel when you get teased?

“I feel like I want to punch them.”
—Turtle, eight years old

“I feel like I’m the only one being teased.”
—Gavin, twelve years old

“Some kids don’t care if they get teased. But it bothers me that people want to be mean. I don’t want to be mean.”
—Hannah, eight years old

“When I’m playing with someone, it feels like there is a door wide open in between us. But when they say something mean, the door closes a little, and if they’re really mean, the door closes all the way.”
—Stella, eight years old

What did you do that helped stop the teasing?

“I just ignored them and went off to play with my other friends. Don’t tease back or fight back, because you might get in trouble instead of them getting in trouble.”
—Hadley, eight years old

“First say, ‘Stop.’ If they don’t stop, say, ‘Buzz off.’”
—Nora, eight years old

“One day, a child called me strange and stupid, and I responded, ‘Thanks for the compliment.’ He just walked away. It helps sometimes to have the opposite reaction they expect you to have because you’re not giving them what they want.”
—Giovanni, ten years old

“The worst thing you can do is not tell an adult. Once you tell somebody, it makes the situation a lot better.”
—Edie, ten years old

What to Do When You Get Teased

Getting teased can make you feel like you don’t have much control, and that can be upsetting. But here’s the thing: You can control one really important thing. You can control how you respond to the teasing, and that can make all the difference!

It all boils down to three words: Keep your cool. Most kids tease to get a big reaction from you. If you yell or tease back or burst into tears, that’s exactly the kind of reaction they want, and they’ll probably keep right on teasing you. Want to take the target off your back? Keep calm, and act like you just don’t care! Here’s how:

1. Use your poker face:

You may be steaming mad or really sad—and you should definitely tell a grown-up all about these feelings later. But when you’re being teased, don’t show the teaser how upset you are. Make your face blank and peaceful, just like Mona Lisa.

2. Walk away:

Don’t storm off, or the teaser will want to follow. Just act like you have way more interesting stuff to do, and walk away to find other friends you can play with.

3. Be smart about talking back:

If you can’t stay silent or just don’t want to, that’s okay! You can absolutely stand up for yourself. The key is to stay calm and in control. Try one of these comebacks; they really work!

*Tell them to stop in a firm, confident way:

“What you’re doing is not okay” or “Stop it. I’m not going to play with you if you’re not nice.”

*Act like the teasing is super boring:

“I don’t have time for this” or “Tell me something I don’t know.”

*Surprise them by acting like the teasing doesn’t bother you:

“Thanks for the compliment!” or “I’m so glad you noticed!”

4. Ask an adult for help:

If you ever feel unsafe or if a group of kids is ganging up on you, you should get a grown-up right away. And if you’ve tried to handle the teasing on your own, but it continues, ask an adult for help. Teasing is not okay, and you don’t have to stand for it.

5. Don’t believe the teasing:

Just because someone says something does not make it true. Don’t let yourself believe mean comments from teasers! Instead, as a famous singer once said: Shake it off! Talk to people who really know you; they’ll remind you how much they care and how special you are. Because you are awesome, just the way you are!