Teaching Children Not to Tease

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As we return from the holidays refreshed and ready-to-go, remember that teaching isn’t just about teaching curriculum.  It’s about teaching the child!

How do we respond to the moments in between the planned schedule? 

When a boy I knew first started elementary school, he didn’t read and write on level with the class.  The other children called him names like “stupid” and “dumb." He went to the teacher for help.  The teacher’s reply? “Don’t be a tattletale.”  That teachable moment, when a seed of bully prevention could have been planted, was lost.   Instead, seeds of low self esteem, doubt and failure began to grow. 

That boy was my son.  As time went by, we taught him new lessons to replace that lost opportunity: “Take your messes and make them into messages.” 

Practicing what I preach (mess to message), my partner, Danny and I wrote a song so that other children can learn through music about the power of words and the choices we all can make. 

Song: Don’t Tease 

Choreography: During each chorus, find an inanimate object to shake a finger at. We can tease a chair, the wall, a table… but we shouldn’t tease each other. 

Diversity: Bring a wheelchair into the classroom.  Place an oversize doll in the chair.  Explain to the children that this is a new student and everyone is responsible for making sure that this student goes to the playground, center, circle, music, etc.   

Lesson: Stepping into Someone Else’s Shoes

Role Play for Older Children:
Using made up scenarios or historical ones, have a bag of story starters such as:
   "You’re told to give up your seat on the bus because you aren’t the right color."
   "You are an elderly person being teased for being too slow."
   "You are the last person chosen to be on a team because you aren’t good
    at sports."

As the children pull out a story starter, have them step into a pair of empty shoes (or stand on some footprints).  Let them tell the class how it feels to be in someone else’s shoes when they are teased or belittled. 

As teachers, I know we probably didn’t choose this profession to make a huge living. Instead, we chose our profession to make a huge difference.  Please share your ideas of teaching the bigger picture with us.  

Listen to a short sample of Don’t Tease in the audio player, below.