When we think of childhood, we think of friendships, sleep overs, hanging out. But, somewhere along the way, the tide turns as do friendships among girls. Instead of sharing inside jokes, they’re sharing hurtful words. It leaves you wondering, where the meanness comes from. And what to do about it.
You might think of girls being mean to each other or mean girls starts in high school, but it can actually start younger.
Meanness can start in preschool where girls leave other girls out of conversations, activities and play dates. I remember my daughter was four y.o. and when the girls got mad at each other, they would say, “You can’t come to my birthday party.”
Meanness starts with lack of problem solving skills and influences from older siblings and TV shows. Girls model what they see. Most people want their way and when they don’t get it, you get angry. Or, someone hurts your feelings. If you don’t know how to solve problems then you lash out. When lashing out works, that behavior gets reinforced.
Here are four ways to help your daughter navigate mean girls.
1) Help you daughters learn to deal with strong emotions like anger, sadness. Taking deep breaths, counting to five or taking a short walk.
2) Teach your daughters to speak tactfully and yet, assertively. They can say, "I feel sad when you ..."
3) Teach them to problem solve. This means finding win-win solutions for both their friend and themselves.
4) It's important for your daughter to know when to end a friendship. Not all friendships should last if someone refuses to be nice or respect boundaries. Talk to your daughter about when this should occur and how to end a friendship.
Blanca Cobb is a WFMY News 2 Contributing Editor, body language expert and keynote speaker/corporate trainer who covers nonverbal communication, psychology and behavior. Follow her @blancacobb. The opinions expressed in this article are exclusively hers.