Who hasn’t been teased?! Let’s talk about the 2 different types of teasing and how to best handle it.
1. Endearment teasing: This form is used to bond or build connection. Think of a friend (or potential friend) giving you a ‘hard time’ about wearing a hoodie in the summertime, your butt-chin, twiddling your hair, etc. I use this form of communication when I make up a name for people. The name isn’t malicious – it’s meant to connect and build a bond.
2. Influence teasing: This form is used to change a behavior. It’s not meant to hurt – rather, it’s meant to help as the behavior likely isn’t a positive one. Immediately, if someone is slurping their cereal their friend (noticing that it’s just the most horrible thing in the world and wanting to help their friend stop) will point out the behavior in a jesting manner. If it were me, I’d also slurp for a very exaggerated time while looking right at the person.Teasing can be a very good thing – teasing too much can easily step into the ‘bullying’ category. To tell the difference, just ask yourself if your teasing the other person to get closer to them (build a bond/connection) or help them (to make a positive behavioral change) OR are you trying to feel better about yourself by putting them down.
Now that you know what teasing is and the motive beneath it, you may want to know how to handle it as it can be pretty awkward (especially if you're not used to it). If you’re the one being teased (as long as it’s actual teasing), the best way to avoid any awkward potential is to GO WITH IT. Laugh at yourself. Smile with your friends. When you become ‘reactive’, the teasing will only increase. Say something like, “good one” (while smiling), or even exaggerate the thing that you’re being teased for – while staring at them. Remember, teasing is meant to either connect with you or to change a negative (in their eyes) behavior. If you can ‘take’ the teasing, the attention will naturally redirect off of you. One time, I heard a kid that was being teased about his backpack shrug and say, “it doesn’t effect my value”.
Remember, there are 2 types of teasing – Endearment and influential. If you're trying to connect or help someone to identify a behavior that's out of line, you're in the tease-mode. If you're not doing any of those things, you're likely being a bully.
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Till next time, Awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC