chapter  10
14 Pages

Teasing and emotional development How does teasing relate to emotional development and the

Father: So what do you have to say for yourself? Toto: Haa. Father: You don't have much to say. A woman of few words, m?

You speak softly and carry a big stick.

One of the special features of fathers in contrast to most mothers is their propensity to engage in verbal and nonverbal teasing with their children (Hopper et al. 1983; Pecheux and Labrell 1994; Reissland 1998). Teasing can elicit a positive bond or communion with the person and hence re¯ects an intimate bond in a relationship (Eder 1991; Sharkey 1992), or it may be hostile (Warm 1997). Teasing behaviour is usually described in negative terms in the popular media, and is often considered to be synonymous with or a precursor to bullying. In fact, both positive and negative forms of teasing exist. It has been de®ned in a number of ways, for example, as `a diverse set of verbal and non-verbal actions that share in common a combining of the elements of aggression, humour, and ambiguity' (Shapiro et al. 1991: 460). Eisenberg (1986) described teasing more simply as mock insults. Teasing generally involves features of novelty, unpredictability and cognitive destabilization. That is, teasing is a stimulus that contradicts previously ®xed rules or expectations (Pecheux and Labrell 1994). Labrell (1994) suggests that this provocative play between parent and child may involve a positive overture, for example a parent offering a desired object to a child. However, by offering the toy and then by frustrating the child by not handing it over, negative reaction can be created in the child and then teasing may become a negative experience, which can result in a child's loss of self-esteem and feelings

teasing has on the emotional reactions of the baby. In infancy, for example, teasing the baby in a peek-a-boo game or teasing the child with dangling a toy just out of reach has to be ®nely timed in order to elicit laughter rather than tears of frustration from the target of the tease. Speci®cally, measures of parental sensitivity, such as interactional synchrony (Isabella et al. 1989), harmony (SchoÈlmerich et al. 1995) and emotional responsiveness (Tronick 1989) all indicate that sensitive mothering has an effect on the infant's emotional reactions.