Parenting Post – Linda Marten MSW

Is your child/teen upset that kids keep calling him/her names (like nerd, weird, gay, etc.)? Does your child try to make them stop and it only gets worse?

Are kids spreading rumors about your child and they won’t stop?

Without realizing it, the more upset your child gets, the more he/she is actually encouraging the kids to continue calling him/her names and spreading rumors.
I teach kids a simple, effective approach that empowers the child/teen to stop being teased or bullied.

Here’s how it works:
We first role play the situation the child has been experiencing, only this time the child gets to call me names. I get all defensive and the child starts to laugh.
I ask him if I can make him stop insulting me and he says, “no”, in fact it’s fun to get me upset.

Then we do the same role play with the child calling me names and insulting me, only this time I don’t get all defensive. I use humor, like “If you think I’m a nerd, you should see my cousin!” or “Yeah, I know I’m kind of weird. I like being weird. Wish I could be popular like you.”
I tell the child to keep insulting me, it doesn’t bother me, it’s just a game.
This time they can’t keep it up.
Then I ask them several questions to help them learn from this experience, like which time did I look like an idiot, the first time or the second time? Which time was more fun for you?

The key is treat think of your enemy or bully as your best friend giving you advice.
Then you won’t get so upset and defensive and give your power away to the bully.

What about rumors? How do you deal with rumors?
Again, don’t get defensive and try to get everyone to stop. That will just make it more fun and they will continue. You see, kids are just playing a game.
They want to see if they can get you upset.
(This especially happens during the middle school years when kids are dramatically changing in so many ways and they feel very insecure. Out of this insecurity, they tease each other and try to feel better than someone else.)

So, here’s a better way to respond. The next time a kid says a rumor like, “Hey, I heard your mother sleeps in a garbage truck.” Just calmly say, “Do you believe it?”
If the kid says, “no” then say, “good.” If the kid says, “yes” then calmly say, “You can believe it if you want.” If they keep asking you if the rumor is true, just calmly keep repeating the same response: “Do you believe it?” and “You can believe it if you want.”
Now, what if the rumor is true? Maybe your mom really does sleep in a garbage truck.
Then your response can be, “Yeah, I know. I don’t like it either.” (Agree, but don’t get defensive and they will not be able to keep it up because you are treating them like a friend, not an enemy.)

I hope this helps.

This simple approach was developed by Izzy Kalman in New York.

For more information or helpful materials contact me at:
[email protected]

The Actors' Gang

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