Teasing, Lying, Or Loving Too Much

Ask Mike, Mike Riera, teens on the back
Whether the kids in your life are toddlers or teenagers or somewhere in between, there are bound to be times when you're not sure how to help them through their growing pains.

The Saturday Early Show family counselor, Mike Riera, has advice. He answers parenting questions e-mailed by our viewers.

Letter No.1: Teasing

"Dear Mike,

I know an 8-year-old young lady who is teased by her classmates because she does not have a father. The child is being raised by her mother. How can we help her answer this teasing?"

Teasing comes in all forms, especially starting around this age and continuing through middle school. And this is one of the worst forms of teasing: making fun of one's family.

What should this person do?
First, make your stance: This is awful and wrong. There are no excuses for this behavior.

Second, talk with her about it and listen. It's very important to empathize with her. Don't try to take the pain away or to gloss it over.

Third, after you've really listened and empathized, work with her to come up with strategies to handle the teasing.

Brainstorm together about how she could respond to teasing. For example:

  • Different kinds of comebacks
  • Comments that would change the subject
  • How to leave the situation gracefully

Fourth, role play with her. Have her play the teasers, while you play her. Then switch. This is very helpful for many kids.

Fifth, encourage her to get support from the adults around her. And be sure to explain to her the difference between telling and tattling.

  • Tattling is to get someone in trouble
  • Telling is to stop someone - her in this case - from getting hurt.

    Finally, if the teasing continues, you should talk to the teacher or administration about what is going on. School needs to be safe for kids, physically and emotionally. It's the law.

    Bottom line is that you want her to realize that she does not have to, nor should she, tolerate teasing.