What to tell your child to make sure they don't get bullied

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What to tell your child to make sure they don't get bullied

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We know that verbal teasing is very, very common amongst adolescents and it doesn´t even really matter how popular you are. Everybody gets teased as a teenager. It´s how you react to it that determines how often you get teased or how severely. And the problem is that as adults we often give kids the wrong advice in how to handle teasing. In fact, I ask teens this question all the time. What do adults tell you to do in response to teasing? And they are always told to do these three different things: they are told to either walk away, ignore or tell an adult. And then I ask them if it works and they say, "No." It doesn´t because the reality is is that is not what kids who are socially accepted actually naturally do. What kids who are socially accepted do in these situations is they act like what the person said didn´t bother them and in fact it was kind of lame. So they will give a short little comeback that shows that. They will say something like, "Whatever," or "Yeah, and or your point is?" or "I am supposed to care? Is that supposed to be funny?" or they will say, "Anyway." And they will roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders. And they give this impression that it doesn´t bother them and what you said was kind of lame. And the reality is that when people tease us, they are trying to get a certain reaction out of us. And that´s not the reaction they are trying to get. They are trying to get us upset. They are trying to get us mad. They are trying to push our buttons, but if we make the teasing not fun for them by acting like what they said was kind of lame, it´s making it less likely that we will be teased in the future.

View Liz Laugeson, PsyD's video on What to tell your child to make sure they don't get bullied...

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Liz Laugeson, PsyD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  Dr. Laugeson is the Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is a collaborative research initiative between The Help Group and the UCLA Semel Institute, dedicated to developing and expanding applied clinical research in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  She is also the Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based clinic providing parent-assisted social skills training for adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. 

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, and Australia. Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

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