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The Difference Between Teasing and Bullying

Although many schools use the terms “teasing” and “bullying” interchangeably, it is important that parents understand the difference between the two.

Teasing is a non-threatening back and forth that takes place between children on the same emotional and physical level.

  • Research over the past 15 years supports that teasing can be a positive force in relationships. School-age children can use happy, fun teasing as an important part of play, and it can actually enhance their ability to express positive feelings toward one another.
  • Parents and children can enjoy teasing each other too. Teasing is even present in the animal world! Juvenile monkeys pull the tails of other monkeys to engage them in play.
  • Teasing should be fun and mutual. Make sure your child knows when enough is enough.

Bullying is when children engage in systematic and organized behavior that is threatening, hurtful, physically harmful or spreads negative information via the Internet.

Myth or Fact
An outdated myth is that bullies are anti-social and outcasts among classmates. This could not be further from the truth.

Recent research indicates that many bullies are typical kids who do not exhibit the stereotypical bully profile. This alone is one reason why parents need to understand the difference between age-appropriate teasing and actual bullying.

Want to learn more?
Read the “Approaching Bullying” lesson plan in my book, Answer Keys: Teachers’ Lesson Plans for Successful Parenting. The lesson includes:

  • Signs of bullying
  • Steps to thwart a bully
  • How parents can work with their child if he or she is a bully

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Email Melissa or call (713) 444-6471

To schedule Melissa to speak at your parent or teacher group about how to combat bullying