What if your child is part of the clique? Keep reading for ways to discuss these powerful groups and how hurtful they can be.
The media is overflowing with mean girl story lines on reality shows like Jersey Shore or dramas like Gossip Girl. Why have these aggressive girls become such role models for our tween and teen daughters? According to Rachel Simmons, author and co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, “The behaviors they exhibit are seen as a kind of confidence. These girls tell people what they really think, and they are often actually very cruel to others, but the girls who are watching mistake that kind of behavior for confidence and power.”
While typical bullying behavior amongst boys involves shouting, name-calling and physical altercations, most of the girl-bullying situations fly under the radar because there is no physical component. “Girls use backbiting, exclusion, rumors, name-calling, and manipulation to inflict psychological pain on victimized targets,” Simmons writes. “They flash looks, pass notes, and spread rumors.”
The use of behaviors to affect relationships and inflict emotional damage on the victim is called relational aggression. Girls will try to turn the group against a specific girl by either direct statements in front of her or by rumors spread behind her back. While there are no physical bruises or scrapes, the wounds of relational aggression can be just as damaging. Self-esteem takes a huge hit for victims of this type of aggression.
If you find that your daughter is involved in some mean girl drama, try not to overreact. Ask a few questions and listen very carefully to her answers so you can help determine her next steps. If you overreact, she may stop telling you about the abuse and continue to suffer in silence.
Teach your daughter to be confident in her own strengths and abilities, and you give her the tools she needs to combat bullying and tame the mean girls.
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