Teasing is often a part of childhood play, but as kids go from toddlerhood to the tweens, it can become more harmful. "My tolerance for teasing goes down as kids reach the ages of 6, 7, or 8," says Turner. "More negative self-esteem can come out of it."
Teasing can easily cross the line into bullying. It's normal for very young children to occasionally hit or shove each other. You can help your child understand how her words or actions might hurt another child's feelings. Let your child know that in your family, people don't treat others like that. Nor do they let themselves be treated badly by others.
Of course, it's difficult to know how and when to intervene. You might want to first talk to your child and ask how he’s feeling, just be careful what words you use. "Avoid saying, ‘was anybody mean to you today?’" advises Newman. "What you’re doing is causing your child to focus on his attacks and people not liking him."
If your child was hit or threatened, however, it's fine to contact the other child's parents. Be nice and try to get them on your side. Together, you may be able to help the children resolve their differences and remain friends.
7. Offer Alternatives to Popularity
Not being part of the popular crowd can feel like rejection on a grand scale. Starting around age 9 or 10, kids become sensitive to what others think of them. Unfortunately, you can’t change your child’s popularity status. You can, however, listen to her concerns and talk about your childhood misadventures. "As a parent, this is where your own stories of rejection might be helpful," says Newman.
It might help to point out unpopular kids who grew up to have the last laugh. For instance, Christian Bale of Batman fame and Kristen Stewart, the female lead in the Twilight movies, have reported growing up under the cloud of other kids’ insults. And Lady Gaga is taking a stand for unpopular kids by launching the Born This Way Foundation along with Harvard University.
A good group of friends can make problems like teasing and not being "in" less painful. As a parent, helping your child make friends, without trying too hard is a difficult balancing act, and well worth the effort.