Friday, March 04, 2005

Teasing -- it can be good for you!

This morning Will was teasing his Dad -- not getting ready for school when he had been asked to do so, avoiding it by alternately hiding, then being affectionate with Dad. Six months ago, Will wasn't so sure about how to tease Dad, and sometimes still he is unsure of when we are kidding with him or when we are serious. He gets upset with his sister if his sister jokingly tells her parents "I hate you!" We have to turn to him and say "Will, is she SERIOUS or is she KIDDING?" He then realizes that she's smiling, she's not mad, she's not being mean, she's just joking with us.

My husband and I are horrible teases. We've always teased each other, and we are constantly teasing our children. That has come in handy when Aspergers entered our family life. Our oldest son likes to joke with people -- "You can't say anything to me that my mother hasn't already said!" This is probably true. But our children are allowed to tease us as well. This makes a nice give-and-take situation that simulates a bit of what they experience in school. So, if you have a child who is called a "dork" because he's a smart but quiet kid, and his mother and father call him a "dork" at home (all the while giving it a positive, intelligent connotation), then he does not view that teasing as so bad. Especially since we label all of us in our family as "dorks". The teasing that we provide at home has the benefit of somewhat desensitizing our children to the teasing that goes on at school, so that it doesn't seem so hurtful, but rather a part of daily life.

It's fun and fulfilling to see that Will is beginning to tease US. He feels like he is part of the group. And he knows the rules -- we do not tease someone if they are particularly sensitive, we do not tease in a hurtful manner, and part of teaching Will how to tease is also teaching him when to back off, just as it would be with any kid. It's going to be a long process -- this kind of socialization takes years -- but I think that it will go a long way to helping him through his teenage years if we prep him now by knowing HOW to tease and how TO BE teased appropriately.


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