If you have a daughter, take the time to read this. It could save her a lot of heartache. Not to mention stomach aches, headaches, missed days of school, lower grades, eating issues and depressed feelings.
The sad truth is that every school, whether public, private or parochial, has mean girls. I bet you can still remember who they are from your school. I’m sure you also know that girls bully differently than boys. While boys usually bully through intimidation, girls often bully through exclusion, also called relational aggression. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” couldn’t be further from the truth.
Once girl bullies choose a target, they do whatever they can to make her life miserable. This includes spreading rumors about her, whispering as she walks by, talking loudly about a party she wasn’t invited to, giving her the silent treatment, and telling others not to be friends with her. All of this is usually done surreptitiously, so unlike the boys, it’s tougher to catch girls bullying.
Does that mean there’s nothing that can be done? Absolutely not. This is what you can do if your daughter is being bullied:
- Ask your daughter for specifics. Who? Where? How?
- Call the principal, classroom teacher, and school counselor and provide the specifics of how your daughter is being bullied. Have them tell the specials teachers (i.e., gym, art, music), recess aides, hallway monitors and cafeteria staff so that everyone who comes in contact with your daughter can be on the lookout and poised to intervene.
- Explain to your daughter that reporting an incident is not the same as tattle-taling, and have her tell an adult at school when she is being bullied.
- Encourage your daughter to stick with a friend at recess, lunch, in the hallways, on the bus or walking home because she is more likely to be targeted when she is alone.
- Tell your daughter to avoid the bully.
- Teach your daughter to walk confidently, with her head up, to convey self-confidence because bullies target those they think are weaker.
- Pay attention to how your daughter is sleeping, eating, feeling and doing in school. If you notice changes in any of these areas, have her see the school counselor.
- Arrange opportunities for your daughter to socialize with her friends to help her maintain a strong social support system.
If you have any questions about this article, leave a comment and I'll get back to you.
If you would like to read more about relational aggression, I recommend the following books: