Monday, February 26, 2007


This article was written by Dr. Collie Conelly ( ) Teasing is a problem with children of all ages. Psychologists define teasing as an ambiguous message containing both humor and hostility. The ambiguity makes an appropriate response difficult.

Most children identify teasing as the number one concern that they have regarding school.

Children are typically told to ignore teasing or become aggressive with the teaser. The research on ignoring indicates that ignoring a teaser usually incites a more aggressive response from the teaser. Additionally, ignoring probably erodes the self-esteem of the target because of the inactive, helpless stance. Conversely, acting aggressive when teased is an active stance which could help self-esteem in the short run, but there are long term draw-backs. Aggressive action can easily escalate into a physical fight and recommending aggressive action communicates that harming another person is an acceptable value.

This article discusses an alternative respose to teasing called affiliative humor. As Dr. Conely describes, affiliative humor focuses upon the humorous part of the teasing message. By focusing upon the humor in the teasing message the target takes control of the interaction and transforms the interaction into a level interaction rather than a one-down interaction. The message is that we are both funny and clever. Affiliative humor jokes about the topic without putting any person down.

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