Terese asks:

7 year old being teased because mom looks young.  How do I address this situation?

My son is being teased b/c I look very young.  I am a young wife and mother, 27 yrs old to be exact.  I can't help that I look even younger than my age. I was in tears this morning and hopefully my son wasn't feeling the same way:(  He doesn't want me to walk him to his class anymore.
In Topics: Bullying and teasing, Motherhood
> 60 days ago



Oct 16, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Terese,

I'm continually stunned by some of the things that kids use to tease one another about! I'm saddened and disappointed that you and your son have to endure the teasing, but I am hopeful that we can devise a plan to help your son manage the harassment in the future.

First, I would have a discussion with your son about how to best handle the situation. I would let him know that teasing is not acceptable, and you will do whatever it takes to make certain that he feels safe at school. If he is comfortable, I recommend approaching his teacher to discuss the teasing. Let him or her know that your son is being negatively affected by the teasing, and you expect for it to stop. You are familiar with the research citing the negative effects of teasing (e.g., increased sadness, worry, physical complaints, such as stomach aches), and you expect that the teasing may escalate if it is not stopped.

Problem-solve strategies for managing the boys' teasing. His teacher may choose to be nearby as students are entering school. The mere presence of an adult often discourages teasing. Also, if the teasing does not stop, the boys' parents will be notified and brought in for a conference and a review of the school's anti-bullying policy (hopefully, they have one). If not, you may want to spearhead a program to develop one.

Second, you can discuss strategies for managing the teasing in the moment. Explain to your son that bullies get excited by the hurt and angry reactions of their victims. They experience this as reinforcement for their behavior and will continue to bully as long as they elicit strong reactions from your son. Thus, your son may choose to begin to ignore their teasing and walk straight to the teacher when they begin their teasing. Your son may also enlist a trusted friend to stand by his side during times when the bullies are most likely to tease him.

Finally, it is important for you to model positive coping strategies and reassure your son that he can manage the situation with your support. Let him know that you are sad that he is being harassed, but together, the two of you will beat the bullies.


L. Compian, Ph.D.
Child Psychologist
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