In Part 2 of 2 of her series on bullying, Samantha Parent Walravens provides pathways to discuss Mean Girl behavior with your teen girl, and steps to take if bullying is happening.
AS A PARENT, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOUR DAUGHTER IS BEING BULLIED BY A MEAN GIRL?
- Get the facts. Find out what’s happening, who’s doing it, how long it’s been going on, and if the teacher knows.
- Make sure your child knows that it’s not her fault.
- Talk about ways of responding to mean girls’ behavior. Role-play with her, acting out the different scenarios she might encounter.
- Encourage her to get involved in activities that focus on her talents and interests, especially activities outside of school and even outside of town. This will help her form new friendships outside of the “cliques” and put her with kids who share common interests. It may help your child realize that the mean girls are not “all that.”
- Tell her your own story if you were bullied as a child (and most of us were, in some way). What did you do in response? Did it work?
Samantha Parent Walravens gets to the heart of the “Mean Girl” culture, so that we can effectively address it. Instead of merely demonizing the behavior, understanding the motivations can be a first step to stopping it.
OUR CULTURE IS FASCINATED WITH THE IMAGE OF THE MEAN GIRL.
Reality TV shows like The Real Housewives of New York, The Jersey Shore, and The Hills feature real-life mean girls in action — publicly humiliating and spreading nasty rumors about each other, pitting friend against friend, excluding or rejecting former friends, and even engaging in physical aggression.
While watching these on-screen antics may be a guilty pleasure for some, most of us resent the mean girl’s unwieldy power and long to see her fall from grace. Think of the movies Heathers, Sixteen Candles, and Mean Girls, all of which feature the demise of the queen bee and the triumph of the downtrodden. Ah, how sweet revenge can be…
Samantha understands but warns against the tendency parents have to shelter their children from failure.
As parents, our natural instinct is to protect our children from harm, disappointment and failure. But doing so is not always in our kids’ best interests.
When my daughter was in fourth grade, her basketball team was on a 0-7-game losing streak with no apparent signs of a mid-season comeback. After a particularly dreadful loss, she ran off the court crying and told me that she wanted to quit.