Mean girl bullying, relational bullying, is really common. You are probably going to have children, most of our children, deal with this at some point. You have to, kind of, deal with it directly if you can. If your daughter is in a situation where she is targeted by a mean girl, you want them to try, as best they can, to go up to that girl directly and say, “Did I do anything to upset you?” Ask the question, “Is there some reason you are angry at me?” Girls don’t like to talk about competition or jealousy or power, they just play it out indirectly. They will tell all their friends the issue, but they won’t talk directly to one another.
Encouraging girls to be direct with one another is a first, great step. The second thing you want to do is, encourage your daughter if they feel upset, shut it off, walk away, and not make a big deal about it. After they have asked that question, “Did I do anything to upset you?” Because you don’t want to enter the drama.
The drama, if you get upset, emotional or cry, will start telling everyone about it. Then it becomes a girl war. The best thing to do is let it be, walk away. You as a parent can think about it now, before they get to that age. Try to create friendship groups for them, multiple ones. If one group turns against them, they have another group to protect them. That’s a key thing for parenting.
Dr. Haber is available for speaking engagements and consultations to help your combat your school or workplace bullying issues.
Dr. Joel Haber