Bullying is scary for parents because we often worry that our sweet daughter is the subject of such antisocial behavior known as relational aggression. BUT, what if the tables turn and your tween girl is actually the mean girl?
While both tween boys and girls can be unkind as a mother of daughters, I only hear about the meanness of the female variety. During middle school, surging hormones and shifting alliances make it ripe for girls to test their social powers, and sometimes maliciously.
Mean girls’ behavior includes gossip, teasing, bullying, backstabbing, verbal put-downs of others, and using others to get ahead. ‘Frenemies’ are common in tweens as they are friends one minute and enemies the next.
There’s a mean tween girl in just about every school, clique, band, religious education class, carpool, and soccer team. And they target their fellow tween girls whom they are jealous of or who stick out from the crowd.
Tag along, and let’s go through some of the telltale signs that your queen bee daughter may be taking her pack leader status to straight-up tyranny. We’ll also cover what to do when your tween daughter is going through bullying and how to handle these delicate situations.
What can you do as a parent to help your tween girl when she finds herself the target of another tween’s cruelty or physical aggression?
Here are some tips on how you can address the situation effectively and without over personalizing it as a parent. Here are signs to look out for in your tween girl if they are facing a bully:
- Your tween daughter might suddenly prefer you drive her to school rather than using the bus.
- Your tween has unexplained injuries or bruises.
- Your tween’s mood changes immediately after looking at their cell phones or other social media platforms.
- Your tween girl might also have the “victim” body language like avoiding eye contact and hanging her head.
- Your tween is moody, anxious, depressed, or withdrawn.
- Your tween doesn’t seem to be eating her lunch. She either comes back home unusually hungry or with her lunchbox untouched.
- Your tween comes home with damaged or missing belongings.
- Your tween always wants to stay at home and skip school. This might be accompanied by frequent headaches and a lack of sleep.
If these are some of the signs that your tween is displaying, then you should:
- Assure your tween girl that you are always there for them to talk to and listen to them. When your tween knows that she can turn to you for advice, she will not feel so alone.
- Strategize with your tween: have with your tween problem-solving solutions against the “diva.” Some of the strategies that have worked are:
- Ignoring the gossip girl
- Teach your tween not to react out of fear or anger
- Use the buddy system, let your tween know there is strength in numbers.
- Have some practical and straightforward slogan ready and then walk away
- Explain the difference between “tattling” and “telling.” Let your tween talk to an adult.
- You can make sure your tween daughter develops as many healthy friendships as possible for peer support.
- Do not minimize the problem or tell your tween she is being “too sensitive.”
- Do not blame your tween for what is happening.
- Do not rush in immediately and take over, your over-keen interference could not only embarrass but inflame the situation.
When your tween gets napped in the web of bullying, it does not necessarily mean that they are “bad kids.” Your tween girl might be bullying in a bid to fit in with a group of her peers who are also bullies.
Your tween girl might also be craving for attention or is naturally assertive leading to them being bullies. Other reasons that may lead your well-behaved tween to be unkind are:
- Your tween tends to perceive her peer’s behavior as hostile, even when it is not.
- Your tween does not fully grasp how her behavior makes the victim feel.
- Your tween girl thrives on drama and often resorts to cyberbullying to torment their victims. She may result in bullying to kill boredom and entertain themselves.
- Your tween girl wants to be in control or have power.
- Your tween might be a bully as a way to retaliate or seek revenge as this might bring them a sense of relief and vindication for what they experienced.
- Your tween might be a bully because of problems at home. Tweens and teens from abusive homes are more likely to bully because aggression and violence are modeled for them.
So How Can You Help Stop Your Tween Girl From Being “The Mean Girl”?
Whether physical or verbal bullying, if it does not stop, it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior and interfere with your tween’s success in school and ability to form and keep friendships.
- Let your tween girl know that bullying is not okay and can escalate to serious consequences at home, in the community or school if it continues.
- Try also to understand the reasons behind your child’s behavior. In some cases, tweens bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, insecurity, and frustrations.
- Try to teach your tween cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences.
- Make sure your tween girl understands that you will not tolerate bullying at home.. Set rules about bullying coand stick to them. While at this and your tween acts aggressively at home, put a stop to it and teach them more appropriate ways to react, like walking away.
- Teach your tween to treat others with respect and kindness. Your tween should know it is wrong to ridicule differences like race, appearance, special needs, gender, economic status, or religion. In trying to instil a sense of empathy for those who are different, you can consider getting involved in a community group where your tween can interact with diverse peers.
- Encourage good behavior in your tween. Positive reinforcement can be more powerful than discipline. When you catch your tween being good and improving positively on the behavior, take notice and praise them for it.
- Learn about your tween’s social life. Look for insights into what might be influencing your tween’s behavior.
- Role model. Keep your behavior in check too. Think about how you talk around your kids and handle conflict and problems.
- Speak up if you see your tween daughter making fun of someone, even if she is “just joking.”
When To Consult With Schools Or Specialist
If you are continually working on building friendship skills with your tween and the bullying does not stop, seek a mental health evaluation. Your tween might need a therapist’s help to work through the underlying issues.