Learning rules is often difficult for the young children but they accept much of it on faith.Consequently they do not learn rapidly, and they have trouble linking one experience to another. Just because a toddler understands that biting is unacceptable does not mean that she will draw the same conclusion about other aggressive behavior also.
A youngster may first have a taste of teasing with innocent name-calling games.. As early as three, she may be tagging playmates or siblings with silly rhyming nicknames. At this stage, she is doing it primarily to amuse herself and exercise her vocabulary.
Later, when she discovers that teasing and name-calling are useful tools and potent ways to convey anger, she may carry the game too far. For one thing, such tactics are almost certain to provoke a reaction. To the very young, names-however silly- seems to carry magical powers.
When the toddler is called a dummy, she almost certainly believes it to be true. Consequently, when the name-caller strikes, the victims tend to cry and call for help. Suddenly the name-caller is centre of attention.
The first time your youngster calls another person a bad name, let her know that the word is off limits, and that she may not use it as a way to tease others. If she persists, respond calmly but firmly. Tell her that she has used a bad name and give her a brief time out while you turn your attention to the other child.
If the victim complains, agree that name calling is not nice, but you should move on to other subject as quickly as possible in order to avoid investing the words with undue significance. After the name caller’s penalty is over and play has resumed, make sure to praise the teaser if her behavior improves.
Be careful of your own use of tease words, so that you don’t unwittingly encourage name calling by overusing pet names you have for your children.
Children often tease to draw attention to them. You should try not to unintentionally encourage this habit by teasing or name calling at home.