My previous article deals with Understanding the ‘Mean Girl’ Mentality. But, what do you do when it is YOUR child that is the mean girl? Yes, your darling daughter can be the one who is mean.
Girls hurt girls. Mean girls dig deep into another girl’s soul as if they are ripping it out with their bare hands, smiling and gathering up the troops to observe the pain and misery they proudly wear as a badge of honor.
Sadly, I have heard way too many stories from little girls, teen girls, and women who have been emotionally damaged by another female. Emotions run high in my office and far too many times, these emotions stem from another female.
We have all experienced or witnessed The Mean Girls Phenomenon. The idea that girls are mean and boys are typically not is a stereotype, and it’s important to recognize that it doesn’t always accurately represent the full spectrum of human behavior, but it is a thing, trust me.
If you become aware that your female child is displaying mean or hurtful behavior towards others, it’s essential to address the issue promptly and constructively. Other than ship her off or whoop her ass, here are some steps parents can take when their child is mean to others:
- Open Communication:
- Start by having an open and non-confrontational conversation with your child. Ask them about their behavior and listen carefully to what they have to say. Avoid immediately blaming or judging them. Let her talk. Generally, kids will hand themselves if you allow them to talk. Use comments like, “I am confused, describe again what happened”.
- Empathy and Perspective-Taking:
- Help your child understand how their actions may have affected others. Encourage empathy and perspective-taking by asking questions like, “How do you think the other person felt when you did that?” Many times, the child is defending themselves, feels threatened, or is jealous of the child.
- Set Clear Expectations:
- Clearly communicate your expectations for respectful and kind behavior. Explain why treating others with respect is important and the consequences of mean behavior. Do not peg your child as the hero or victim. No matter what the dynamics are in the relationship with the other child, more than likely you child has contributed to the discourse. Let them know their feelings may have been warranted but their actions will not be tolerated.
- Model Appropriate Behavior:
- Children often learn from observing their parents’ behavior. Be a positive role model by demonstrating empathy, kindness, and conflict resolution in your own interactions. Watch your mouth here. Don’t allow yourself to talk negatively behind someone’s back. Even if you can’t stand the other person.
- Teach Conflict Resolution Skills:
- Provide guidance on how to resolve conflicts in a healthy and respectful manner. Teach them to use “I” statements and to listen actively to others. Teach them that envy and jealously is damaging. Teach them to search for their true feelings and not to allow anger or resentment to be their “go to”.
- Supervise and Monitor Social Interactions:
- Keep an eye on your child’s interactions with others, especially in social settings like school or extracurricular activities. Offer guidance when needed to ensure they are treating others respectfully. There is not a kid on earth that is perfect. Know this about your own kid. Kids strike out to other kids. Observe with an open mind.
- Encourage Apologies and Amends:
- If your child has hurt someone, encourage them to apologize and make amends if appropriate. Help them understand the importance of taking responsibility for their actions. Apologies from kids to other kids are extremely powerful, when they are sincere. If the child does not accept the apology, its on them, not your child.
- Establish Consequences:
- Consider age-appropriate consequences for mean behavior. These consequences should be focused on helping your child learn from their actions rather than punishing them excessively. If your precious kid is mean on social media, take it away. Period. Monitor it.
- Seek Professional Help:
- If the mean behavior persists or appears to be indicative of underlying emotional or behavioral issues, consider seeking the assistance of a therapist or counselor. They can provide professional guidance and support.
- Promote a Positive Environment:
- Create a home environment that encourages empathy, communication, and emotional intelligence. Encourage your child to express their feelings and concerns openly. This means you must do this yourself!
- Monitor Media and Influences:
- Be aware of the media and peer influences your child is exposed to. Discuss the importance of critical thinking and the impact of media on behavior and attitudes. Monitor social media.
- Build Self-Esteem:
- Sometimes, mean behavior can stem from feelings of insecurity. Help your child build self-esteem by acknowledging their strengths and encouraging their interests and passions.
- Stay Involved in Their Social Life:
- Stay connected with your child’s social life and friends. Know who their friends are and monitor their social media and online interactions.
Remember that addressing mean behavior in a child is an ongoing process.
It’s important to be patient, supportive, and consistent in your approach. Encourage your child to learn from their mistakes and grow into a more empathetic and responsible individual. If necessary, consider seeking guidance from a child psychologist or counselor to address underlying issues and provide additional support.
Dealing with a “mean girl” can be difficult and overwhelming but you are not alone! If you are struggling right now, let’s talk. You can book an in-person or virtual visit.
Email or call anytime to schedule an in-person or virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | email@example.com
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach
Empowering individuals, families and communities to grow and heal through advanced approaches in Creative Arts Therapy, setting the standard for treatment, practice and training within the field.