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My son is a teenager. He doesn't have any problems. I'm trying to teach him how to deal with life in general.

How to teach your teenager to handle situations in which bad people make fun of him or humiliate him, while he has to remain patient and polite? And when should your kid answer more aggressively than the others, so that they don't bother him again or so he can escape from that situation?

  • Thank you, Jawaid, for editing your question. This might get some good answers (though others might have a few questions for you as well.) – anongoodnurse Apr 13 '15 at 15:37
  • The last sentence, are you asking when the child should respond with a stronger response (aggressively)? Do you have a specific problem (ie, is your child sometimes picked on, and needs specific help) or are you just trying to generally teach him how to deal with life? – Joe Apr 13 '15 at 16:26
  • Yes aggressively. No he doesn't have any problems, I'm just trying to teach how to deal with life in general. – Jawaid Apr 13 '15 at 18:50
  • Do you think your teenager is being regularly bullied? Handling bullies requires different strategies to dealing with occasional random nastiness. – Paul Johnson Aug 26 '16 at 18:29
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All parents, except maybe parents of that "bad seed" who is the problem, have to deal with this. We dealt with it early on, in elementary and middle school, and by time the kids hit high school, they were pretty comfortable with who they were and dealing with it on their own.

A few of the points of emphasis that seemed to work for us -

  • If it gets bad enough that they don't feel they can handle it, they have to be stronger than peer pressure and get a responsible adult involved.

  • Realize what is going on. Those who lash out do so because they feel bad about themselves. They have a fundamental weakness or insecurity, so they are trying to make themselves feel better by dragging others down. You can't be dragged down unless you allow it. Recognize that they aren't lashing out at you because you are weak or odd, but because that's how they feel about themselves. Since it's not really about you, it's easier to ignore it or not feel belittled by it.

  • Do you like this other child or look at them as a leader when they treat you like this? Of course not. When you take the bait, allow them to make you feel bad about yourself, or react to their goading, you are giving them control over you. They want to get a reaction, and you are obliging them. The best revenge is to be in control of yourself, and dictate your own actions, because then you are denying them what they want when they act like this. If they never get what they want, they're eventually going to give up.

  • Along the same lines, your time, attention and energy are precious commodities. You want to give them to things you like, your friends, your family. When you take their bait, you are allowing them to steal your time, attention and energy, and you can never get that back. If they are not worthy of it, and they aren't, you shouldn't give it to them.

Framing in that context really helps the child feel like they are in control, even when they aren't doing anything. It won't be perfect, because we're all human with emotional as well as rational sides, but it will get easier over time.

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I can't claim to have all the answers, having never raised a teenager (yet!). However, a pattern I have found effective is to actively seek out win-win situations. At first it won't be as helpful as one wishes for dealing with bullies like that. It will mostly show in relationships with friends (where it is easier to find cooperative solutions). My experience is that, over time, one develops more skill at finding the win-win, and one day one starts to find that, when the bullies arrive, there are options to defend oneself without trying to push the bullies down.

One advantage to this approach is that it blends well with other approaches. The most visible places to practice this skill are with friends, not the bullies. This means you can use other methods to deal with the bullies in the short term, while being able to rely on this approach in the long term as skill improves.

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Morality of good and bad are entirely subjective and opinionated. That's what you'll need to work on reflecting outwards. Regardless of where you are in life, undesirable situations - involving "bad" people will arise and the array of actions which can be taken are circumstantial, and the consequences even more circumstantial.

To take your example, wherein another individual begins to make fun of the child, and decompile the causality of it, we can immediately see that the "bad" in this situation is dependant on how your child perceives and understands what the other individual is saying. Your child is faced with 2 (main) scenarios, one where they perceive it to be a positive , humoured conversation and one where they perceive it to be negative.

In the first scenario they could embrace it with laughter and counter 'humour', be intellectually witty in response or positively contest it. In the second scenario, they could be stoic and reserved and let them do it, confront them with agitation or aggression in mind or simply ignore it and report it.

As social creatures it's entirely normal for humans to verbally contend with one another - admittedly it's gotten a little lost in translation within the newer generations - and the main principle of education for children should be in confidence, acceptance and respect.

It's entirely possible for your child to positively react to ill-intentions with witty humour that isn't negative or a form of attack, it's in this confidence that ill-intention and verbal contests are won and respect is given.

An example from modern society , mainly focusing around appearance, would be the mocking of a haircut. An individual might remark "Did your mum cut your hair?" This is a verbal contest of wealth and style. Your child could respond with "No, I wasn't sure what I wanted and it didn't turn out as good as it could have - I like your hair though, what did you ask for?"

The problem , especially with children, is that their sense of morality isn't developed to include this kind of contention - personal attacks on image and the usual things are a result of modern media classification and vast diversity. To edge around this , you introduce morally clear lines - by complimenting the individual your child is offering a positivity and kindness that, if attacked as a result of being offered, will instil a sense of bad morality , it is therefore a lot more likely that the person will come to find a sense of respect and mutual understanding with your child. (it's important to note that most children experience the same situations and it is those who are more confident to push through them.)

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