1. "I don't see why teasing other kids isn't okay -- I think it's fun! What's wrong with it?"

You wouldn't think it was okay to hit other kids with a hammer, because you know that would hurt. Teasing is a way to hit somebody with words, and that hurts too. People don't bleed when you hit them with words. You can't see the wounds like you can when somebody gets hit with a hammer. But the wounds are there, and they hurt just as much -- maybe more.


2. "What if the teasing isn't real teasing? What if it's like a game, and nobody gets hurt because we're all just goofing off?"

When every single person who's there KNOWS it's only a game and is having a good time, you're right -- then it's not real teasing. It's like what happens in football, where you might push somebody out of your way or even knock them down, and it's only part of the game. There are just two problems with this. (1) It's hard to be sure that everybody is having fun and understands that it's just a game. You have to be really, really sure. (2) When you play this game, you're practicing to be good at teasing other people and picking on them. You're wasting your time, because you don't need to be able to do that. You could be using that time practicing to be good at something worth doing -- like baseball or golf, or drawing, or using a computer, or playing the guitar.


3. "The other kids are always calling me names and saying terrible things to me. I don't get it. Why do they want to hurt me like that?"

They don't want to hurt you -- that's not what this is about. These kids want you to pay attention to them. They want to see you get all upset, because that proves that they can push your buttons and make you pay attention. The more attention they get from you (which tells them that what they're doing is working!) the more they'll keep on doing it. The more boring it is to tease you, the quicker they'll stop doing it.


4. "Grownups are always saying awful stuff to me. How come I get in trouble if I say something back? It's not fair!"

There are lots of things grownups are allowed to do that kids can't do. Grownups get to drive cars; kids don't. There are also lots of things grownups HAVE to do that kids don't have to do. Grownups have to pay bills; kids don't. It has nothing to do with being fair. It's because different things go with different stages in life. When you're a grownup yourself, you'll be able to tell kids when they're doing something wrong and when they need to change their behavior -- and they won't be allowed to talk back. You'll get your turn, and that's fair.


5. "I'm just not good at talking. I never know what to say, and I say the wrong thing all the time. What can I do about it?"

The best thing to do is to watch people who really ARE good at talking and do what they do. There's sure to be somebody you know who's good at talking, somebody that everybody likes to listen to. Pay attention to what that person does, and try to follow that person's lead.( Just be sure you don't pick somebody that people listen to only because he or she is a smartaleck or a show-off!) Another good thing to do is to pay attention to the way the grownups talk on National Public Radio's news programs ("Morning Edition," "Weekend Edition," and "All Things Considered") or on the PBS television show called "Washington Week in Review."


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