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Tease-Proof Your Kids – Let’s Practice Looking Cool Together

Photo courtesy of Elin Young

 I haven’t yet told my kids much about my first two years in junior high school.  I don’t want them begging me to homeschool them this early in their educational careers.

I had top marks. It was Canada. I didn’t get “grades” until I moved to Texas in High School.  I loved my parents.  I was actively taking steps to improve my vision and dental alignment.  I collected key chains from around the world and displayed them at our school collector’s club event, was a volunteer at the school library, played flute in the band and had enough flesh on my body that others would find it hard to count my individual ribs if they saw me changing in the locker room, which they wouldn’t, because I was too modest to just take off my clothes in front of ALL THOSE PEOPLE.

Yeah.  My first two years of junior high went pretty much like you’re imagining them, complete with the mocking and the taunting and the having my name written next to choice illicit vocabulary words on the bathroom wall.  Eventually I figured out the magical secret that I was not alone in feeling ostracized, and that nearly everyone felt the same way I did, our happiness held hostage by a few “popular kids” whom nobody actually liked.  Then things improved.

When I realized I didn't deserve to be teased, when I gained some confidence, the teasing stopped.  I know my parents had tried to teach me that but I had to own it before it became effective.  Now I'm wondering if I could have learned to simply fake it until I made it.  An article by Tim Fay on his Love and Logic website suggests that just might be possible.

Our elementary school principal directed me to the article and I highly recommend it.  It’s called Teaseproof Your Kids and it’s inspired by a second grade teacher named Mr. Mendoza who taught his students two tricks to help make them less desirable targets for bullies.

First, you cultivate a cool look.

“This teacher had the kids practice standing with their hands in their pockets, rocking back on their heels, and putting a cool grin on their face.”

Next, you have a one-liner ready to let the other kid know that she has no power over you, that you’re really not hurt or affected at all by her words.  The line Mendoza suggests is, “Thanks for sharing that with me.”

So last night at dinner we practiced our cool faces.  I’ve never been cool so I’m not actually sure if we looked cool or not but I think the point is to look calm and confident.  We did that very well.  Then we practiced one-liners and the kids had fun making up a few of their own.  Some were a little bizarre but we'll work on it.

When I asked them if they ever got teased at school, they both said no.  Laylee looked shocked and added, “That’s not allowed at my school.  EVER!”

Let’s hope it stays that way, but if not, she’s got her cool face ready.  I hope she can still make it when she has braces on.  If she has a single one of my genes in her oral cavity, she’s gonna need them.

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Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler, and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.