As a mom of a ten and a half year old girl (and you know, BEING a girl myself), experiencing mean girls and drama is really not a surprise, unfortunately. Yet it still hits you right where it hurts. I remember the first time my daughter came home from Kindergarten and told me a little girl told her she was ugly. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to rip that other child’s head off! That was our first introduction to mean girls, until third grade when it escalated more. That year she had a friend that was great at first, then as the year went by she revealed her character a bit more. She would say really mean things that my daughter would brush off because “she has a temper,” and then finally she told my daughter she was only pretending to be her friend, and then revealed secret to crushes and the like. This went back and forth for a bit until finally we had to say, just let this girl go, she is not your friend and she is not worthy of you. My daughter has a soft heart and gives a lot of chances. Luckily, she hasn’t been truly bullied, really, in the true sense of the word, but she has dealt with rude and mean kids that she doesn’t understand WHY they are behaving in that way. Anyway, fast forward to fourth and fifth grade and the drama that ensues in these grades is CRAZY. Stuff is said that is insane, and while my daughter tends to play the peacemaker among her group of friends, this year she’s dealt with more issues. Mainly friends that get mad and won’t tell her why, or say rude things in front of her face, etc. The other day I had posted a bit of the story on my Instastories (follow me over there, I’m super active!), and I got a big response on how to deal with it . So without further ado, here is what I’m teaching my daughter about mean girls and how to respond.
- First of all, any child that is lashing out and being rude has something going on at home, is hurt inside, or has been taught to do so. I know it is hard to teach this, but having compassion for someone else even when they are being mean is something I teach on the regular. There is a lot of craziness going on in other homes (you should hear the stuff I hear about at the dinner table..insert side eye), and I can’t account for other parenting styles. I may be teaching my kid kindness, but many are not. And this is not the kid’s fault. So just be aware that kids that hurt other kids are mostly hurting inside or taught to behave that way.
- Second, we have to teach our kids to stand up for themselves. My daughter will give a lot of chances and try to be kind to a fault, but there is a time when that ends. I don’t condone violence here (unless in self-defense), but I know in third grade I had to teach her to say, “Don’t talk to me anymore, you are not my friend. Leave me alone,” in a forceful way. She was so apprehensive about this! We teach our kids to be kind, but forget to teach them that saying their truth and being firm is not rude. There are a lot of mind games played by young girls today, so being firm and saying exactly what you need is a must.
- Lastly, I try to teach her that some friendships come and go. We may be great friends in one grade, but over time it falls away. Or we truly learn about someone’s character and it doesn’t match with ours. I like to give her examples from my life, if she seems open, and say that friendships and relationships are an ever changing thing. I know in the instance this year a long-term friend turned on her for no reason and won’t say why. We discussed how her friendship is a gift, and she is a beautiful person, and only the most deserving people deserve to have that. If someone is unwilling to have an open discussion, they aren’t meant for you RIGHT NOW. I think open communication is the key. Tell the friend that you are there for them, but you won’t beg them to talk or be a part of drama. Luckily, she was able to walk away only after a couple of days of sad feelings, and move on.
I know that I’m only in the beginning of what is to come, but I really believe that we can take things day by day, and know that we can get through anything. Emergencies today are often resolved quicker than we think. I tend to get more worked up over issues she’s having, only to find that they are best friends again and all is solved. I hope we are teaching her that communication is key in all relationships, and that you can only relate to people who are willing to meet you in the middle. Also, young kids often gravitate towards the first friends they make, and then get devastated when it doesn’t work out. These life lessons are hard, because we just do our best to stand by them and give the best advice we can, but a lot of the time we just have to be there for them and listen.
Tell me, have you experienced tween drama in your house? How do you deal with it?