Stop Disguising Verbal Abuse as Teasing or Affection

February 23, 2023 Cheryl Wozny

If your childhood included kids teasing you, an adult might have explained that they teased you because they liked you. I'm not sure when affectionate teasing and verbal abuse evolved into a well-known sign that someone likes you, but it should stop.

Many kids tease one another, and some do it because they aren't sure how to display healthy affection. We need to change the narrative so that, generations from now, children will know how to show positive attention

There's a Thin Line Between Teasing and Verbal Abuse

Kids may tease others for various reasons. Sometimes if the teasing is slight, it isn't intended to hurt the recipient. Children continue to tease one another beyond that point, and feelings get hurt

When kids tease someone they like, they often do it to be noticed. But, they will be known for negative behaviors rather than positive ones. This dynamic tends to lead to an awkward exchange between two people. The best way to stop this behavior is to avoid condoning it and correct it when it happens. 

Teasing Can Be Verbal Abuse

It can be obvious when a person likes someone. For example, they may spend more time with their favorite person or go out of their way to make contact. However, when you like someone, you should be nice to them instead of making them uncomfortable or upset. 

Unfortunately, many individuals consider playful teasing an endearing form of affection. We need to change the narrative of how we view the actions of others and how we show fondness. While there may be instances where teasing is an innocent act, it often spirals out of control to make the recipient feel bad. 

By not telling kids that someone is teasing them because they like them, we can eliminate the unspoken understanding that being mean equals affection

Reinforce Positive Affection 

Although not all teasing will be verbally abusive, it can quickly escalate into a negative situation. These aggressive and hurtful words can teach children that this method is how to show affection. 

Instead of resorting to teasing, there are other ways to show someone positive affection. You can try or suggest these ideas to someone instead of teasing them. 

  • Make eye contact.
  • Use compliments.
  • Be honest and genuine.
  • Offer help.
  • Ask the other person questions about themselves.

Remember that there are better approaches than teasing to show someone affection. For a better result, use positive actions and encourage children to treat their peers kindly. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2023, February 23). Stop Disguising Verbal Abuse as Teasing or Affection, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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