Wednesday, September 1, 2010

TEEN TRENDS: ARE YOU RAISING A "MEAN GIRL"?


(This blog is written to inform parents and others of disturbing trends of teenagers.)


It's that time of year again!  Yes, it is back-to-school time. A time when you take your daughter shopping for new clothes, new shoes, a new book-bag. The store aisles are jam-packed with school supplies; the smell of new crayons, brightly colored binders, everything your daughter needs to prepare her for the new school year.

But, there is one thing every school has that you need to prepare your daughter for, and that is “mean girls”. You know the type; "the Queen Bee and her wannabees". Those girls who rule the school. They are popular and beautiful, with perfect hair, perfect skin, the perfect wardrobe, and they have power over other girls in the school, who would do anything to be part of this clique. (And these "mean girls" have been known to target boys in school.)
 
*The “mean girl” effect is so widespread that this type of bullying has now been termed “relational aggression” by psychologists.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO: 
  • Talk to your daughter about these types of girls before school starts.  Knowledge is power.
  • Teach her to convey self-confidence.  Mean girls target weaker girls.
  • Contact school officials to find out if they have a policy in place to deal with bullying
  • Each day, ask your daughter about school and friends
  • Help her get involved in activities outside of school, such as sports, music, drama or art to help boost her self-esteem.
  • Know when to seek professional help.  Consider counseling for your daughter if her anxiety becomes overwhelming.     
THIS TYPE OF "MEAN GIRL" BULLYING TAKES ON MANY FORMS:
  • Being shunned
  • Insults/degrading
  • Taunting
  • Name calling
  • Malicious gossip
  • Rejection
  • Humiliation
  • Teasing
  • Exclusion from peer groups
  • Harassment
  • Cyber-bullying 
This type of bullying is hard to detect and is often trivialized.  We think, "she'll get over it", but the pain and effects of this type of aggression can last into adulthood.

*EFFECTS OF RELATIONAL AGGRESSION:
  • A girl who suffers from this kind of bullying starts to believe she is unworthy and insignificant.
  • She is more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs or develop an eating disorder.
  • She becomes angry, unattached, uncooperative, hostile, and has an extreme negative opinion of herself.
  • Relational aggression has a long-term effect on her self- esteem.
  • She may develop psychological effects, such as depression, anxiety, headaches or stomach problems.
*
· b
WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR DAUGHTER MAY BE THE TARGET OF “MEAN GIRLS”:

  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem
  • Emotional instability
  • Sleep disturbance or change in eating habits
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempt
  • Frequent crying
  • Self-destructive behavior (cutting/eating disorder)
  • Reluctance to go to school
  • Loss of friends
  • Poor school performance/drop in grades
  • Headaches, stomachaches or other physical complaints
  • Loss of interest in activities she previously enjoyed.
WHY ARE SOME GIRLS MEAN?
  • To be popular
  • To appear tough and in charge
  • To make other girls afraid of them
  • They suffer from low self-esteem and bullying makes them feel superior
It is hard to forget Phoebe Prince, an Irish immigrant and new arrival to a small Massachusetts town.  She committed suicide in January 2010 because she had been teased and taunted in person and by text messages, and harassed on social networking sites like Facebook by "mean girls".  These girls continued to mock Phoebe on Facebook even after she killed herself.

· 

But, girls are not born mean.  This is a learned behavior.  Most girls learn to intimidate and manipulate others from her home environment, usually from her mother.  If your daughter sees you gossiping, saying mean things about others, and acting snobbish to someone of a lower class, she believes this is how people are to be treated, and that this behavior is okay.  You should always demonstrate kindness and empathy towards others, especially in the presence of your daughter. 

Because it is often hard to catch “mean girl” behavior, it is vital that tween and teen girls have hands-on parents, who can recognize potential warning signs, and be there to help their daughter deal with these situations when they arise.  Be aware of your daughter’s struggles, because chances are she won’t ask for help.





*Picture courtesy of Mark Lawton.com
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/what-to-do-if-your-daughter-is-bullied/
*http://www.spsk12.net/departments/specialed/Relational%20Aggression.htm



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20 comments:

AK said...

The mean girls are what totally scares me of having a girl. YIKES!

Johnnie said...

Hi. I am a new follower from Thursdays blog hop. Great post. It is hard to imagine what teens go through in schools today. Denial is so tempting! I will be back!
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Smart Ass Sara said...

I was the victim of this kind of behavior and still am- 10 years out of high school. And I kind of forgot about it but my 10year reunion (and fall out) drudged it all up again.

And while part of me wants to jump on the bandwagon and say this is a new trend- it really isn't. Everybody, including my grandma, can remember some of this behavior from when they were at school. Sure, it may be more severe now (or maybe it's just more exposed than before) but it's not a new behavior. BUT I think parents really do a disservice to their kids by agreeing that the kids need the latest/greatest just to keep up with the other kids. Isn't that what some parents do among their own friends? Then you have shows like the Real Housewives and girls grow up thinking that this is ok.

So very hard raising kids. My daughter is 5 and starts preschool on Tuesday and I? Am terrified.

Closer to Lucy said...

Ya stepped on my soapbox!

I'm a big advocate for schools tweaking their zero tolerance to include social network bullies. It reaches out beyond their school yard yes, but if affects the learning and wellbeing of a student while in class.

These playground bullies grow up, leave the classroom, and end up our coworkers, bosses, and fellow PTO members. Lifetime jerks in the making!

Brenda said...

I am your newest followr from Thursday blog hop, drop over and check out my blog at kittycrochettwo.blogspot.com

mommythemaid said...

I remember the mean girls. I am glad to have tools to help my daughter deal with them.

heather@actingbalanced.com said...

My daughter is twelve and we've been dealing with 'mean girls' since the start of middle school -- the funniest thing is that these girls have lower self-esteem and more issues than my 'geeky, unpopular daughter' - the big thing for us is open lines of communication and talking through the antics of particular mean people to get to the root of why they did what they did... it's also keeping an open line of communication going with the school to make sure that admin is aware of all the antics...
I'm fortunate that my daughter is willing to go the extra mile and avoid the mean girls by having a close-knit group of 'real' friends to depend on and share with... so she can just pity the ones who need to put people down to bring themselves up...

ZippyChix said...

The girl thing is tough. My daughter had various issues through middle and high school. Luckily this made her have empathy towards those in similar situations and now she is just the sweetest to others. Working as a camp counselor gave her lots of confidence and she is currently at college having a blast and making lots of friends. She endured....we were very lucky!!!!

Amy said...

Great tips for teens. I know I will needs these someday. I am so scared of the teen years..

Debra said...

I am so glad that issues like this are coming more into the light. When I watched mean girls with my husband, he wanted to know if there was any way that girls actually acted like that. It was sad to tell him that yes, many girls do act like that.
Thank you for stopping by and visiting me on my SITS day!

Unplanned Cooking said...

So hard, it's been interesting watching even young girls on the play ground. It breaks your heart when one is uninvited to play.

Shelli @ Style Ingenuity said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

I am a parent of two teens ages 13 and 15 and your blog is on my favorites list on the right rail.

Thank you for creating this blog! I will refer back to this often!

- Shelli

Dalia - Gen X Mom said...

This stuff is so scary. And to think it was tough when we grew up, can't even imagine now with all they have. Many more ways to 'be mean'.

whatsaysyou said...

Wow, Laura, that is very mind-opening stuff you wrote about the issue of mean girls. I agree with you that the mean girl/queen bee syndrome is a learnt behaviour and as a former victim of a mean girl (who happened to be a flatmate from hell but I won't go in detail on this), I can tell you that mean mothers always beget mean daughters.

However, can you maybe do a latest blog post on tips for parents and/or older siblings on how to deal with a daughter/younger sister who happens to be the mean girl of the classmate or school? Thanks.

Coupons Make Cents said...

As the mom of a child who has come in contact with the "mean girls" at the tender age of 10, I thank you for this article. We parents MUST be hands on because the parents of the "mean girls" are NOT. Those children are able to do things without their moms ever knowing. We have to advocate for our children because no one else will. The schools simply aren't equipped - only us.

amy said...

I don't know which is more terrifying to me, having a mean girl or having my daughter attacked by mean girls. Reading your site will be great preparation for what's to come as she grows up. Thank you. Following from VB.

Mommy LaDy Club said...

Mean girls are probably much worse today with all of the social networking than before. I think I was lucky to have a personality able to handle them well(still not fun), but I still come across "middle aged mean girls" to this day! Nice finding you through vB:)
Courtney
http://www.mommyladyclub.blogspot.com

Resa said...

Just a couple of months ago I ended up intervening on behalf of my 13 year old daughter over a Mean Girl thing going on at her dance class. I worried a lot about whether I should intervene, as a lot of people would say that you shouldn't fight kids' battles for them. But things had got enough out of hand that I thought it needed to be brought to the attention of the teachers and parents, and that turned out to be the right decision.

There's definitely a "Queen Bee" mean girl going on there. We had a big group workshop recently that the Queen Mean Girl couldn't attend, and the whole group dynamic was completely different. All the other girls really bonded and had a great time. I suspect that when Queen Mean Girl returns to class, it will be back to the who's in/out gossipy, sniping atmosphere, and that makes me sad. I'll hope that it won't, and that some of the energy from the workshop will carry on, but I won't be holding my breath. I really don't get why Mean Girls have so much power over others. :(

SEO Experts Academy Review said...

I am not sure if I could be a target for mean girls but I have experienced of bullying after my classmate was jealous of me. It seems strange why would she feel jealous since she was popular and smart kind of student. I just hope that my kids won't be a target of mean girls.

The Pepperrific Life said...

It does help to have an open line of communication with your kid, so she won't think twice about opening up to you about what's bothering her. We parents can then catch the problem early on, and work towards a solution.

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