Saumini Vishwanathan doesn't know
what to do. She says, "My daughter is always crying and complaining because
her older brother teases her. I know that it's bound to happen between
siblings, but in the case of my children it seems a little excessive."
It can be exasperating for parents
when they are constantly called upon to mediate between warring siblings.
After a long day at the office or in the midst of coping with the hurly-burly
of life, it can be really annoying when your child comes crying to you
saying that her brother called her "stupid" or said that the neighbour's
son was her boyfriend. You wonder whether your daughter is being too sensitive
or your son too mean.
Parents have certain typical ways
of reacting in such situations. Either they lash out at both children in
frustration or they give the teaser a tongue-lashing and comfort the teased.
But this is not a satisfactory solution. The child who teases should learn
that seeing his sibling upset and weeping should not be his idea of entertainment.
On the other hand, children on the receiving end of the teasing should
be taught to toughen up and cope with the situation without having to run
to "mummy" or "daddy" every time.
Tips on dealing
Keep in mind that it is quite natural
for teasing to occur between siblings. So there's no point trying to clamp
down on it in a Hitlerian fashion.
Explain to the child given to teasing
that while he may find it amusing and even the teased child might like
the attention initially, he must stop when the other child says so or when
it is obvious that the other child is getting upset.
Teach your child that she must learn
to cope. Explain to the child that by reacting to the 'teaser' she is just
rising to the bait. Tell her that when she cries or flies into a rage at
his comments she is just fuelling the teasing behaviour.
The teased should either ignore the
teaser, walk away or calmly tell him to stop. Adopting this approach will
mean that the teaser will soon lose interest and look for some other form
But if the teasing takes the form of
hitting or using abusive language, then you should not expect the teased
child to cope on her own. You must step in and make it clear to the teaser
that he has crossed a line and such behaviour is not acceptable.
Try not to take the side of the teased
child all the time. She will learn that it pays to play the martyr and
it will result in the other child being made to feel victimized by you.
Address the issue in such a way that they both have to face the consequences.
For instance, deprive both of them of their TV privileges till they can
learn to play together without teasing.
Convey to them that teasing and the
quarrels associated with it do not just involve the two of them. It disturbs
the rest of the family too. Thus, whenever the teasing becomes a problem
for other family members, it is important that you make the children realize
that and take disciplinary action. For instance, you could tell them that
because of their incessant quarreling you haven't been able to complete
your work. As a result, you will not be able to take them for a movie like
you had promised.
Try to distract the teaser by involving
him in some other activity. Send him on an errand or play a game with him.
Encourage your children to be cooperative
rather than competitive.
Teasing is often the reflection of a
child's need to establish his superiority. You can channelize his energies
so that he can display his superiority in different ways.
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