I’ve been dissatisfied with my attempts to respond to my children when they tease. We’ve tried a lot of approaches. I’ve talked about loving. About preferring one another. About the mad man who says “I’m just joking.” I’ve talked about how teasing is only fun when everyone is having fun. (I’ve given that lecture repeatedly.) I’ve tried asking questions, I’ve tried helping them understand how it feels to be teased unkindly. I’ve taught them to stop when the person says, “Please stop.”
But still we have a teasing problem.
Partly because I’ve been thinking lately about how my children’s personalities can affect their actions, I realized that I have been assuming this is a sin problem without considering other contributing factors. So I asked myself, What’s going on here? What is my child trying to accomplish?
I started asking myself why children tease others (apart from good teasing where both children are genuinely enjoying the teasing). I’ve got a few possibilities (I’m sure we could think of others), and not all of them are evidence of rebellion.
- They’re bored.
- They’ve figured out that some teasing is enjoyable, and don’t know when to stop.
- They want to join in someone’s play, and don’t know how.
- They are enjoying hurting someone.
Truly, a child can have a combination of several motivations, but it’s clear to me that I can easily address the first three motivations and be able to more clearly address the fourth, if necessary. This is a good example of how sometimes in our eagerness to teach God’s Word, we forget that there’s practical instruction that our children need, too. These practical instructions enable them to apply God’s Word effectively.
I’ve been assuming the last reason, mostly, and lecturing based on that reason. But what if that’s not the reason? I decided to ask.
Next time I’ll tell you what I learned, and the instruction I gave as a result.