Tweens dealing with mean girls is more than a just a big-screen, Hollywood phenomenon. Tweens are taunted daily because of what they wear, how they act, who they select as friends and a host of other reasons. Mean girls come in all shapes, sizes and colors and are a seemingly natural aspect of a young tween’s life. Dealing with mean girls isn’t fun, or easy, but as a parent, it’s important to equip your tween with high self-esteem so she knows how to calmly combat bullies.
What is a Mean Girl?
Teach your tween the definition of a “mean girl.” Erika V. Shearin Karres, author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Raising Girls,” notes that there are five types of mean girls: snobs, gossips, teasers, bullies and traitors. From making rude comments about what your tween is wearing to pretending to be a friend and then talking about your daughter behind her back or openly calling her a nerd because she got an “A” on an exam, mean girls vary. By teaching your tween to identify the acts, words and behaviors, she’ll have a better shot at avoiding forming friendships with girls who behave in these ways.
Teach your tween not to resort to mirroring the behaviors of the mean girls as a defense mechanism against their behaviors. Instead, teach your tween how to ignore mean girls, to report problems to teachers and school administrators, and to constantly communicate with you about what goes on with the mean girls.
Explain why mean girls behave the way they do. Many tweens resort to mean-girl behavior because of verbal or physical abuse at home, they repeat behaviors from parents and siblings, they want to be a part of the “in” crowd, and they often suffer from low self-esteem.
Be supportive and lend a listening ear when your tween comes to talk to you about issues she’s facing with mean girls. She may need a hug after a hard day or encouragement that she handled a run-in appropriately.
Use Your Own Experience
Use your experiences with mean girls, or experiences as a former mean girl, to teach your tween how to cope. Drawing from your experiences shows your tween that you understand what she’s going through and that things do get better.
Raise Self Esteem
Help your tween raise her self-esteem by getting her involved in activities outside of the classroom such as sports, drama productions or arts and crafts. Giving her chores and the freedom to make her own choices can also boost her self-esteem. Tweens with higher self-esteem find it easier to stand up to mean girls and are less affected by their behavior.
Teach your child how to display assertive behavior. Education, an online resource for parents, describes an assertive child as being able to say what he wants or feels in a polite way without causing harm to others. Assertive teens exude confidence, which can help keep mean girls from bullying them.