Bullying and Tweens: Helping your daughter cope with mean girls

Everyone remembers the 2004 blockbuster hit, Mean Girls, featuring a teenage Lindsay Lohan as Cady Heron, the good girl turned bully and Rachel McAdams as Regina George, the “mean girl” who is bullied by Cady Heron. This fictional story of mean girls and bullies may be a caricature of what it’s really like to be in today’s middle schools and high schools, but mean girls really do exist and they cause so much stress for young girls today.

Choosing the Right Friends

For a lot of tween girls nowadays, the pressure to fit in with or be accepted by the “popular girls” can be intense. Now that cyberbullying has become more and more common (one 2010 study found that 32 percent of teens reported online harassment), it’s easy for the stress caused by online interactions to take its toll on young girls. That’s why it’s so important for tween girls to choose friends who are supportive and not your quintessential “mean girls”. Let your daughter know that mean girls sometimes don’t fit into any stereotypes. If her friends are making her feel bad about herself, or “less than” in any way, they are mean girls and she should make new friends pronto.

Don’t take “tween drama” lightly

Drama in friend groups usually involves some subtle form of bullying. Rather than physically hurting people, modern bullies use mean texts and chats to harm other girls’ self esteem. Little comments and actions can completely shatter your daughter’s well being. Being aware of your daughter’s social life and the drama going on between her and her friends can help you prevent any future bullying from occurring.

Dealing with mean girls

Helping your daughter cope with mean girls is essential to her future success. Long term bullying can lead to issues such as low self esteem, self harm, depression, anxiety, and in some cases, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. Here are a few tips for helping your teen cope with mean girls:

  • Teach your daughter to be confident and assertive. She needs to be able to stand up for herself in a respectful way without being mean and aggressive in return.
  • Focus on school and extracurriculars. Instead of being on social media at all hours of the day, have your daughter switch her focus to school and extracurriculars she is passionate about. She won’t have time to worry about the mean girls if she’s busy all the time!
  • Get her to open up to you. Sometimes tweens are afraid of talking about any bullying by mean girls to their parents. Let her know that it’s important for you to stay informed so you can take action if the behavior escalates.
  • Respond calmly or not at all. If your daughter is not capable of coming up with a well thought out response to mean girls who are bullying them, she needs to ignore the bullies and walk away from the situation. If the bullies are online, she needs to block them.

Asheville Academy can help

If your daughter has been a victim of mean girls or is bullying other girls, she may be in need of additional help. Asheville Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for young girls ages 10-14, helps girls struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties heal in a safe, nurturing environment.

For more information about Asheville Academy, please call 800.264.8709 .

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