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Parental Teasing: Ever OK?

Viral videos of parents tricking and teasing their kids may be funny in the moment, but the aftermath could last for years. Dr. Meg weighs in on a hot topic.
Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
January 9, 2012
Minute Read

Two video clips have recently surfaced on Youtube and national night time shows and are lauded as hysterically funny. One involves parents filming their children after they pretended to eat all of their child’s Halloween candy and another shows children being filmed after receiving bad Christmas gifts. Both have both become wildly popular- particularly with young singles who don’t have kids.

Humor has long revolved around seeing others get hurt. There is something funny about watching a friend trip and fall or a grown man fall backwards off of a swing. Another’s pain brings out peculiar feelings in us all. That’s why watching children who are teased seem almost funny. But there are enormous differences between accidental and inflicted pain.

First, these videos of children show inflicted pain. These are children who are used for the purpose of another’s “pleasure” and the viewer knows that the children are being set up. Second, teasing is involved. Whenever teasing occurs, there is a spirit of meanness disguised as humor. Most will argue that teasing is legitimate, but when I talk to children, I hear otherwise. I think that it is important to hear their side of the story since they are the ones who aren’t laughing.

When a parent teases a child, the child initially feels hurt. Then, the child feels that he has been betrayed (duped) and understands that he can’t trust the parent who is doing the teasing. So, by the time the child realizes that the teasing is for the purpose of humor, he doesn’t feel like laughing.

No one likes being teased- ever. Adults may nervously laugh after they have been teased, but even they feel humiliated beneath the laughter. Make the author of the teasing a parent of a small child and nothing feels even remotely good to the child.

Is it ever OK for a parent to tease a child? Not in my book. So let’s help these little ones out and speak out against the mean videos.

What do you think about these videos? Let me hear your thoughts.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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