Not all teasing is harmful. In fact, playful teasing can be fun for children and adults. Playful, good-humored teasing can lead to smiles and laughter, even on the part of the person being teased. Researchers have discovered that this type of teasing can help children develop social skills they will need later in adolescence and adulthood (Ross, 1996).
Unfortunately, quite the opposite takes place when teasing becomes hurtful. Ridiculing, name-calling, and putting down another person can lead to feelings of sadness, hurt and anger. Hostile teasing may include tormenting or harassing another person and may call for intervention by a caregiving adult, parent, or teacher.
Children tease for a number of different reasons. One likely motive is to receive attention. Even if the attention received is negative, teasing can have the effect of causing others to notice the negative behavior of the person doing the teasing. For some children, negative attention is better than no attention at all.
Some children may tease because they are simply imitating the behavior of others. Children who tease may mimic the same behaviors they have experienced at school, in their neighborhood.