Mean Girls at School
Who are Mean Girls?
Mean girls are girls that purposely say mean and ugly things to other girls at school. They form cliques and alienate other girls on purpose. They pick on other girls because of their clothes, hair, makeup, looks, boyfriends, friends, and a million other silly things. This is not a formal definition by any means. This is my definition. I got this definition from my nine year old daughter. She has come home from school over the past two years complaining of these mean girls from time to time. I asked her why would they not just be considered bullies. She insists that they are just mean girls.
When Do Mean Girls Start Being Mean?
You would think that mean girls are only found in middle schools and high schools. This is what I thought because this is where I found mean girls when I was in school. I am shocked to find out that these mean girls have gotten younger over the years and now this type of bullying starts in elementary school. My fourth grade daughter comes home regularly in tears because of these mean girls that have upset her over one thing or another. She started complaining of it last year in the third grade. It amazes me that this starts so early with these young girls. It only worries me as to what there is to come in her middle school and high school years if this is what we are seeing now.
Mean Girls are Bullies
Regardless of how my daughter refers to these girls. They are just bullies. Boys tend to bully with intimidation. Girls bully through exclusion. Psychologists refer to this as relational aggression. They form these cliques and exclude other girls. They spread rumors and say nasty things to alienate other girls. Anyone who is a little different is a target. It is usually the child that is minding their own business and walking with their head down that gets picked on. These mean girls tend to have needs that are lacking in other places. They have no control at home or wherever their needs are not being met. So they take control in this area of their life. They move to the top of the social ladder by calling other girls names, spreading rumors, and excluding others. Many times these mean girls are copying what they see at home. Parents who are nasty to one another or other people are being observed by their child. Mothers who have their own cliques and participate in the same games are not setting a good example for their own daughters.
In or Out the Clique?
We recently had a problem with my daughter and being in one day and out the next . My daughter came home upset because this one girl who tend to be a bossy chic told her that she was no longer of friend of her and her other friends. It devastated my daughter because she did not know why this was happening. No explanation is given. Just “you are out”. My daughter dressed up in a very sparkly dress that day for school. She thinks it may be because she was drawing so much attention to herself with that outfit on that the other girls did not like it. I think some of that may be true. Regardless, it just shows how trivial these little things are but they are huge to the little girls that are getting rejected or talked about. My daughter feels like she can't dress up for school anymore because of what it got her.
This type of bullying by mean girls does not stop at the school yard. It moves right to the internet where thousands of people can see their mean comments. Young girls are posting things on Facebook, My Space and any other social networking site they can find about other girls. They even make up profiles pretending to be other girls to make them look bad. There have been stories of the like in the news. It is a huge problem. It causes so much pain and humiliation to young girls. Some have even committed suicide as a result. It is so much easier for a person to hide behind an avatar or their computer screen and harass another. We really have to watch what our little girls, our children, are looking at on the internet. Get access to their Facebook or My Space accounts so that you can monitor what is going on. If they have a phone it is good to check the kind of text messages that are being sent back and forth. Explain to your daughter that you are not just trying to be nosy. You are trying to protect them.
What Can You Do About Mean Girls?
This type of bullying can affect your daughters sleep and eating habits. It causes heart ache, depression, lower grades, and missed days from school. There are a few things that you can do help your daughter through this.
- Pay attention to these things and if you see a change start asking questions. My daughter tells me that she does not want to talk about it at first. She eventually opens up to me and tells me what happened. I let her know that it is important to me what she experiences at school. She thinks I wouldn't want to know. You have to make them understand that it is very important that you know.
- The best thing to do is to contact your child's teacher, guidance counselor, and principal. Do not ignore it and think it will go away. I have done this on a couple of occasions and it was handled appropriately. I was very glad I did it and my daughter was thankful as well. The bullying from those particular mean girls stopped. If it starts back, I will contact the school again.
- Allow your child to socialize with girls outside of the classroom. Enroll her in dance or gymnastics where she can make friends with girls that she does not necessarily go to school with. It gives her a sense of belonging to something where she does not have to rely completely on her class mates for socializing.
- Pay attention to internet use and cell phone use. It is so important that you pay attention to this. As I said before. This type of bullying does not stop at the school yard or classroom. It is very common for this to happen while these children are on Facebook or My Space or whatever other social networking sites they may belong to. Check those text messages to make sure there is nothing to cause concern there. Be involved and be aware.
- Stand up to the mean girls. I am not saying that she should stoop to their levels and do the same things. But sometimes just her standing up to the girl and saying she is going to notify someone about what is going on may make the girl back off. Tell your daughter to walk with her head high and be confident. Mean girls tend to prey on shy and quiet girls more. Tell your daughter to let them know that they don't bother her.
Don't Give Up
The sad fact is that mean girls are starting to be mean much younger these days. Don't assume this is a problem for your middle school or high school daughter. It has started in third grade for my daughter. Pay attention to her and help her through this despite how trivial it may sound to you at the time. I can assure you it is not trivial to her. It is huge and it affects her tremendously. Notify the school if it starts to happen. Tell your daughter to be proud of who she is and to let the mean girls know she is proud of who she is. Don't give up and fight it all the way.
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