The Effects of a Parent Teasing Their Child
You may feel like your well-intentioned teasing is nothing but a little gentle ribbing, but to your child, your words may be devastating. Kids get plenty of negative teasing from peers, so why should a parent be party to the teasing game, too? The negative impact of teasing can be hurtful to your child, so look for different ways to connect.
As a parent, you hold one of the main positions of support and respect for your child. No one else on Earth may the same importance or significance to your child. By zeroing in on tidbits or situations that bother your little one, you are actually breaching this trust and exploiting it. Even if you feel like the teasing you deliver is lighthearted and nominal, you may be cutting your child and wounding her. This breakdown in trust may carry over into other areas as your child gets older.
Teasing can also lead to embarrassment in a little kid, according to the Brainy Child website. This can be especially true if you tease in front of an audience of your little one's friends or other family members. Put yourself in his place for just a moment and imagine how you might feel if someone ribbed you about your messy house or salty soup in front of your friends of family. Your child probably feels a lot like that when you talk about his mismatched socks or inability to find his favorite toy in front of other people.
Kids who grow up with habitual teasing may start to have serious waverings in their self-concept. It just makes sense that a kid who receives teasing and ribbing about issues will eventually start to think that she's somehow lacking and missing the boat. This inward questioning could lead to issues with depression if it goes on for a significant time, states a study by Michigan State University entitled "The Measurement and Impact of Childhood Teasing."
Anxiety can be another result of childhood teasing. No one likes to feel that insecurity and lack of confidence that happens when you're on the receiving end of teasing, and your precious little one is no different. The negative feedback can cause major distress in a young child. You might even notice some withdrawal in response to teasing in an effort to protect and preserve the self. Withdrawal can be a dangerous thing because it can lead to anxiety and loneliness.
- Brainy Child: Words Parents Should Never Speak To Their Kids
- The Parents Zone: Don’t Tease Your Child –- It May Be More Hurtful Than You Think
- Michigan State University: The Measurement and Impact of Childhood Teasing in a Sample of Young Adults
- Keltner D. Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W.W. Norton & Company; 2009.
- Proyer, RT. To love and play: Testing the association of adult playfulness with the relationship personality and relationship satisfaction. Curr Psychol. 2014;33:501. doi:10.1007/s12144-014-9225-6
- Office on Women's Health. Emotional and Verbal Abuse. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Updated September 13, 2018.
- Mills, CB, Muckleroy Carwile, A. The good, the bad, and the borderline: Separating teasing from bullying. Comm Educ. 2009;58:276-301. doi:10.1080/03634520902783666
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images