Nearly everyone remembers the 2004 movie “Mean Girls” starring Lindsay Lohan, and although the film drew a lot of laughs, the movie is based on the actions of real high school girls. In almost every school everywhere, there’s a group of “popular” girls, and sometimes, instead of using their social power for good, this group targets students they believe are beneath them, making their lives as miserable as possible using criticism, rumors and pranks. How can you tell if your daughter is a victim of mean girls? Look for the following signs:
Is she suddenly moody, anxious, aggressive and secretive? Does she prefer extended amounts of alone time?
Are her eating habits different? Is she suddenly obsessed with calorie intake?
What are her views of school? Does shedread attending class?
If your daughter is experiencing mean girls or bullying:
Let your daughter know that she can talk to you about school life. Protect her confidences from others (like your friends who might leak it to their kids.)
Share your Story:
We’ve all experienced this – Share with them that while painful, this experience is not your life story just one episode.
Help her find other friends:
Enroll in camps, classes or other outside school interests to gain more friends and confidence.
Help her find her voice and learn that she holds the power to respond or to “nothing them” by withholding a response. For instance - “These girls are petty, they aren’t important, I will nothing them.”
Be available and attentive:
Be ready to offer hugs and help her learn important life lessons (like how “not” to treat others).
Contact the school:
Work with the principal and school counselors to put an end to repeated episodes.
Girls in the early teens seem to be the “meanest” – I think they don’t know how to digest and sort through emotions such as jealousy or envy. They may need help dealing with these emotions and how to react to different situations. I find that helping put the situation in perspective is really important. - Beth B., parent of two girls
Is it Bullying?
Teen bullying, be it physical or mental, is gaining more and more national attention and has been proven to be dangerous, with several recent cases resulting in suicide. But just because someone is mean to your child doesn’t mean they are a bully. Draw a distinction between these behaviors:
RUDE = Inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else.
MEAN = Purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).
BULLYING = Intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, to intimidate or abuse.
Mean girls aren’t always born that way; they might be learning it at home. The term “Mean Moms” is usually applied to mothers that have simply carried these mean childish behaviors into adulthood. What should you do if the girl who’s being mean has this mom? Answer:
Parents should be willing to work with other parents to help diffuse situations. Approaching it diplomatically and without a lot of anger is usually the best way to avoid defensive behavior. Many times these “mean moms” are horrified to find that their daughters are acting that way and will quickly work with them.
But, sometimes, they don’t respond the way you would like. Take the high road, be an example to your daughter and be ready for a “teaching moment” to occur.