How We Helped our Daughter Deal with Mean Girls
Guest Post by Karen Liszewski
This post was originally featured on Karen's blog, Sincerely Karen
When I picked my little one up from school recently, I could tell something was off.
Whenever you ask her how her day was, she immediately says “Great!” even if it wasn’t. Sometimes it takes a little while for her to tell me how it actually went, so I waited for her to come to me. We got home and did our normal routine of taking the dogs out, going through her backpack and having a snack.
While we were doing homework a little later, she got quiet and told me that she was sad because she had to sit alone at lunch. My heart instantly broke.
All I could picture was my little girl, sitting alone and eating by herself. She went on to tell me that her “friends” wouldn’t let her sit with them. So she went to a different table.
There have been a few instances that have made me want to cry for her since she started Kindergarten last year and this was one of those times. Some of the girls last year, in Kindergarten, made fun of her because her lunch box didn’t match her backpack. What?!
I find it so disheartening that I am even writing about this right now, she’s in first grade for god’s sake, but unfortunately it is a reality. She is learning at the age of 6 that girls are mean. How sad is that?
As much as I want to take her hurt away and never allow someone to hurt her again, I know that is not possible. If I don’t equip her with the skills now to deal with people who are mean, I am setting her up for failure in the future.
Here's what we did that seems to have eased her hurt and hopefully helped her understand how to cope with these situations. Hopefully it will work for you too, if you're struggling with a similar situation.
When she comes to us and wants to talk, we listen. We put down our phones, mute the TV, close the computer and really listen to what she is telling us. We let her spill her guts out and give her our attention. It means the world to her when we really take the time to hear her.
We Ask Questions
After she is done telling us what happened, we ask questions. W ask her how it made her feel and how she handled it. I learn so much about who my daughter is when I am engaged in the conversation and ask her questions. It is so eye-opening to hear her tell us her feelings and explain what she did. One thing I have learned about her is that she is stronger than I give her credit for!
We Share Stories of Our Own
When I was growing up, kids used to make fun of me because I wore dresses and skirts all the time. I told her about some of my experiences with mean girls and she was amazed. She couldn’t believe that I had went through some of the same things as she is. She told me later that it made her feel good to know that it wasn’t just her, which made me smile. Don’t be afraid to share with her some of your past.
We Encourage Her to Think about What Kind of Friends She Wants
I think this is a huge one and it is something my husband and I do with our daughter all the time. I feel like it is so important to teach her that if someone is mean to you or doesn’t make you feel good, you don’t need to be friends with them. If we can reinforce what it means to be a true friend, it will help as she gets older and finds herself in different situations.
We Teach Her How to Respond to Mean Girls
When she is faced with someone who is hurting her feelings or being mean, I want her to know what to do or what to say. One thing I have told her is to walk away or tell them, "you aren’t being nice.” If someone is making you feel bad, walk away from them. I want her to know that she doesn’t need to stay in any situation that is upsetting.
We Help Her Be Confident in Herself
If she is confident in who she is and what she deserves, my hope is that she will be less likely to allow someone to treat her poorly. We talk to her often about being okay with who she is and what she likes. Kids have told her since Kindergarten that she is a baby for the TV shows that she watches, and she has told me she is embarrassed to like some of the things she does. I tell her all the time to not let anyone make you feel bad for what you like or don’t like. They can do what they want to do and you do what you want. I want her to know that she can be comfortable being just who she is!
We Let Her Know it's OK to Tell an Adult
I want her to feel comfortable going to her teachers or another adult if someone is being mean or hurting her. A lot of the time, she tells me that they are taught not to tell on others but I explain to her that this is not that kind of situation. If she needs help or someone to stop a situation, then she can tell her teacher.
We Provide a Solid Foundation at Home
Last but certainly not least, we are making sure we give her the most solid foundation we can at home. When I was growing up, and even in high school, I didn’t have that many friends because I didn’t party or drink. But, although I wished I had more, I was always okay with it because I was fine being home with my family. I want her to grow up knowing that no matter what, she always has us.
Karen Liszewski is a wife, mother to Olivia, and blogger at Karen Sincerely. She was stay-at-home mom for five years before Olivia started Kindergarten and she now works in a non-profit agency. She has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and is passionate about writing. Say hi on Instagram @karensincerely.