Monday, July 20, 2009


Wow. I had no idea how many of you guys had followed me here from the MSN days. That's actually really cool.

Well, today's post is actually about a little trick that I learned when I was teaching and I wanted to share it with everybody.

For those who don't know, the last two years that I taught, I was in what's called an "inclusion class." Basically, these are classes where regular ed and special ed kids are mixed together. My job was to make sure the special ed kids understood the lessons, took notes, and generally kept up. I helped all the kids in the class, but the specials were actually my responsibility. Sometimes I taught the class, and the other teacher did what I did, sometimes I developed lessons that worked with different modalities, and sometimes I'd just pull together groups or work one-on-one.

Inclusion classes can really push kids who are in special ed. It also leaves them open to teasing. A little too much attention from the "special" teacher and kids will begin to tease. I wish it wasn't that way, but it is. I usually managed to protect my kids, but sometimes they'd get teased right in front of me.

"Why is she helping you?"

"You retarded or somethin'?"

"You're stupid, that's why she's helpin' you."

I discovered a sure-fire way to stop most of these comments (notice I said most--some people are just different)

First, you have to think about why children/teens make fun of each other--for the most part, it's to cover up insecurities they have about themselves. Clothes are dirty? Point out that Joe over there has a bad haircut. Are you the shortest kid in the class? Make fun of the new girl's buck teeth.

My kid has special needs and a big concern is how to deal with it when our kids get picked on. Luckily, Charlie hasn't experienced that I'm sure it will happen one day. I didn't' have any special needs and I got teased, so really, no one escapes completely.

Anyway, so some body's teasing your kid and you want them to stop.

Some parents would want to go reason it out with the other kid's parents. That's a mistake. A) The kids parents have taught him better and he does what he wants anyway or B) The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and you don't really want to get to know them. Either way, it's best to just nip it in the bud and not make an incident out of it.

Other parents would want to yell at or insult the bully. Again, mistake. There's pretty much nothing worse than an adult yelling at a child. Besides, you're escalating the situation and really, you just want it to end.

So what do you do?

I say kill them with the sort of kindness that makes even normal people go running for the hills. Start with a sickly sweet voice--if you live in the south, pull out the accent. And then say this: "oh honey, does it make you feel better about yourself to make fun of other people?" "does that help you with your insecurities?" "Honey, you don't have to do that." "Do you feel better about yourself now?"

Depending on the situation, you can go as far as you need to: "Does your mommy not pay enough attention to you at home?" "Do you feel bad about yourself?" "Do you need a hug?"

Remember, the point of the bullying/teasing was to draw attention away from them and their insecurities. This kind of behavior shines a giant spotlight back on them.

You might get called a "witch," but they'll probably yell it as they're high-tailing it away from you and your kid.

So, mission accomplished. Bullying over. Bully is now wary of your kid and his crazy parent. You didn't stoop to his level and you didn't have to get anyone else involved. I used this technique several times to great success.