When relatives tease your child

  • Lifestyle
  • Friday, 04 Apr 2014

WHAT would you do if your relatives teased your child or talked with others about his or her “bad behaviour”?

Let’s say your child, like mine, has learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. One relative condescendingly asked me why I was unable to control my hyperactive son while someone else in my family was able to.

That relative believes my child “must have behavioural problems at school” even though he has never had one issue in all his years in school. The list goes on and on.

So how did I handle this? I started by following some suggestions from the National Center for Learning Disabilities: What to Do If Your Child Is Being Teased by Relatives (http://bit.ly/1cqzzrn).

I asked my son questions, as the website suggests. “Teasing can be good-natured or it can be hurtful,” it says. “This is true whether a relative is doing the teasing or a classmate.

Ask your child what was happening when he was being teased. Was it meant as something hurtful? If so, why would that person want to hurt him? Was the teasing playful? Did the teasing bother your child? Why? Asking your child these kinds of questions will help him learn how to analyse situations on his own in the future.”

I also “played some tennis” with my son, as the article suggests, and taught him how to quickly respond to good-natured teasing. I explained the difference between that and mean-spirited teasing.

We had a discussion with the relatives, but discussing the matter didn’t change their behaviour. Ultimately, my husband and I had to make a difficult choice to stay away from these people for our son’s protection.

It is hard enough to build up a child with ADHD and learning disabilities, work with teachers on an almost daily basis and with doctors to get your child all the tools they need to make sure they succeed. In my never-humble opinion, people working against your child and your family don’t get to be part of their lives.

If you have a relative or friend behaving this way around your child or disparaging your child to others, I strongly suggest trying work it out with them first. Use honest, open communication, if possible. Try to inform them.

Suggest they do some research on learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders and the autism spectrum, so they can better understand your child. But, also tell the individual it’s never OK to tease your child, talk to him or her in a condescending or mean-spirited way or about him to others.

If that doesn’t work, keep in mind that this is your child. It’s your job as a parent to keep your child safe, sometimes even from relatives. – The Orlando Sentinel/McClatchy Tribune Information Services.

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