Over the years our attitudes to name calling and teasing have changed and we now realise that persistent and cruel name calling can have damaging effects. We know that it’s not only ‘sticks and stones’ physical harm that can be detrimental to our wellbeing.
While we can’t shield our children from all unpleasant schoolyard behaviour, we generally understand that it’s not helpful for our kids to be picked on. Any of us who have suffered childhood taunts know that kids can be cruel and that bullying can make life almost unbearable when the teasing and name calling snowballs out of control.
Now comes a report stating that a British expert thinks children need to be teased and called names to toughen them up.
This story at News.com.au claims that former advisor to the British Government, Tim Gill, is calling on parents and teachers to stop over reacting to “unpleasant behaviour” which can help children develop their resilience.
A closer reading of the story suggests that Gill may not be promoting bullying but rather the over reaction to certain childhood behaviours that have attracted the bullying tag.
Simply redefining all unpleasant behaviour as bullying does not solve this problem, it merely brushes it under the carpet.
The unintended side-effect of such redefinition is that adults are likely to feel under growing pressure to step in whenever children fall out or argue with each other, causing confusion in the minds of children, parents and school staff.
In an atmosphere of heightened media and public awareness of the problem, there is a real danger that adults will overreact and suppress behaviour that, unlike bullying, has a key role in helping children to learn for themselves how to deal with difficult social situations.
I must admit that we need to be on guard to ensure that we don’t wrap our children in a cocoon to protect them but at the same time I can’t see how name calling and teasing can be helpful.
Surely our goal should be not only to stop our children from being the target of bullying or even teasing but to raise our children to have enough respect for themselves and others so that they don’t tease or bully others. Even more than that, we need to encourage our kids not only to avoid antisocial behaviour but to honour others and to threat others in the way they would desire to be treated.
What do you think? Were you teased as a child? Do you think it had a long term effect? Do you think that a certain amount of teasing and name calling is healthy for kids?
Posted by Rodney Olsen
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