While we like to protect our kids from the harshest realities of the world and let them keep their innocence, we still need to be able to give them knowledge that will protect them and help them be prepared in bad situations. One all too common problem that younger and younger girls face is how to deal with mean girls. As moms we can’t turn a blind eye to the reality that mean girls are causing problems, as young as age 8, and our daughters need to have some tools to know how to handle the bully or mean girl in class.
Read on for 6 ways to help your daughter deal with mean girls.
Teach Them Why
Help your daughter understand what a good friend is and how true friends treat one another. If your daughter knows the characteristics of a true friend, and she knows them well, then she’ll be able to see manipulation, bullying or false friendships for what they are.
Teach your daughter that mean girls act that way often because those girls are unhappy or insecure. This knowledge is freeing — your daughter can realize that the way the mean girl is treating her has nothing to do with your daughter and everything to do with the bully.
Unfortunately girls who don’t feel good about themselves can try to make others feel bad or look worse and your daughter needs to know that. Help your daughter to avoid taking negative behaviors to heart by teaching her bullies are acting out of their own unhappiness.
Mean girls tend to pick on girls who give them a reaction or who easily capitulate in fear or shame to anything the mean girl says or does. Encourage your daughter to smile and be confidant. Don’t give bullies the satisfaction of looking insecure or defeated — remind her to bring her true feelings about the matter straight to you and work it out with mom. Tell your daughter not to give the mean girl the satisfaction of knowing she has hurt their feelings.
Mean girls are less likely to repeat the same tactics of bullying if they can’t get a rise out of their victim. Simple things like good posture, a strong voice and eye contact can show the mean girl that you won’t put up with her drama. Growing positive self-esteem at a young age and teaching daughters to stand strong in the face of a mean girl will often deter the bully from further advances.
Just Walk Away
The simplest technique is often the most effective, remind your daughter that she can ignore the mean girl at school and simply walk away. While we can’t control the hurtful things others say we can control our own response. No matter how bad the behavior of the mean girl, teach your daughter to keep her responses free from drama, anger or any emotion. Sometimes in this case the easiest solution is to say nothing at all and just walk away instead.
Always Talk to an Adult
Good self confidence, walking away and staying positive and not taking harsh words personally is all important, but talking to a trusted adult (that’s you mom), is still a key step. No girl should have to deal with a mean girl without help. Some mean girls will threaten your daughter if she tells an adult. Other times the words being said about your daughter might feel so shameful or embarrassing that she is afraid to come to you (Click here for more reasons why kids are afraid to tell on bullies).
Remind your daughter that you are her biggest fan and you’re always in her court. There is nothing that can be said, there is no threat too big, you will always love her the same and want to help her. Show your daughter through your words and actions that you will always have her back and work with her to stop the bullying. Take her concerns seriously and she will be more likely to confide in you.
Foster Healthy Friendships
Sometimes the toxic friends your daughter is dealing with is in her close-knit group of friends. When this happens it’s important to help our daughters have the courage to walk away from the friendship completely. If your daughter knows how to spot fake friends (Tip #1), then she probably already realizes that the girls she thought were her best friends were actually a group of girls competing, comparing and tearing each other down and that is not true friend behavior.
Brainstorm with your daughter ways she could reach out to other girls and make new friendships. If these mean girls have been her friends for awhile, it might feel extra hard to go and make a new group of friends. Do some role playing or practice conversations where you can give your daughter tools on how to start a conversation and how to confidently introduce herself to new girls. Help her join a new club or support her in inviting new girls over to play.
Pay Attention to What YOU Can Do
As the mom you have a lot more influence than you might think, even if the bad behavior is all happening at school when you aren’t around. If you’ve already given her opportunities to grow her self confidence, encouraged and supported her with unconditional love and taught her how to be a good friend and what a good friend behaves like then you are well on your way.
Even if you aren’t the type of mom to have a lot of kids over to your house you’ll want to make a point to have your daughters friends over to your home from time to time. Quietly observing how your daughter and her friends interact and give you good clues on what is really happening. Encourage your daughter to have a a wide-range of friends and educate yourself on the different types of bullying so you’ll be ready if your daughter needs to confide in you.
Be the person your daughter trusts and looks to for advice and you and your daughter can tackle any problem together.