This term seems to be coined sometime in the last 10-15 years. I’m sure we’ve all ran into one at some point in our life. You know the girl who has nothing nice to say to anyone, not even her closest friends. She is over critical of everyone to often cover up her own insecurities. Strangely, it seems, she’s often the popular girl who all school-age girls want to be. As adults, these same girls exist but have a lot less power. Women are stronger emotionally and less likely to base their self-worth on a mean girl’s opinion of them.
My daughter takes dance. We luckily found a dance studio that is more modest than most. There’s no mid-sections showing on the little ones and the little girls’ routines are very much age appropriate. Once a week we rush after daycare to get her to dance on time. She loves the dance class and teacher. She’s always been shy but I’m now seeing her become more outgoing. She now likes to sit with her “dance friends’ when before she’d sit on my lap just watching them.
Last week they were all sitting together looking through the dance books. My daughter was sitting next to two other girls and looking over their shoulders. Now, these other two go to the same daycare together so they are quite familiar with each other. Girl A is the obvious leader of the two. Girl B pretty much follows her around and copies what girl A is doing. Girl A is very, well, bossy.
While looking through the books Girl A and B were commenting on the outfits and which ones they liked. Girl A pointed to one and said, “Eww….I don’t like this one”. Girl B looked over and said something I didn’t hear. The Girl A continued on to say it was because it was a boy’s outfit and it was ugly. My daughter looked puzzled and looked up at me. She didn’t say anything. They turned the page and Girl A pointed at another girl and said, “That’s ugly, I don’t like her face.”
My daughter’s eyes were huge and she looked at me and said, “That’s not nice!” I responded with, “No it’s not nice and we don’t say things like that.” Girl A’s mom and B’s dad were several feet away not paying any attention to the girls. Girl A was never reprimanded for making such a mean and hurtful comment.
When we drove home following dance, I reinforced to my daughter this type of behavior is inappropriate. Most importantly I praised her for being able to recognize it. I told her how proud I was that she was always so nice to everyone.
Now reflecting on this, my heart hurts a bit. This girl was only 5 years-old. She’s already showing the signs of being a mean girl. That is so very sad. Further more, it’s sad because her mom was so involved in a conversation she missed the opportunity to redirect her daughter’s comment. She missed a teaching opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with her mom having a conversation with someone. I just think its sad that there was a missed opportunity. I’m certain I’ve missed opportunities too. It happens, but sad none the less.
I am truly proud of my little girl. I often see her being a truly nice girl. Daycare tells me frequently they just love her sweetness and how she’s nice to everyone. This little girl of mine doesn’t have a true mean bone in her body. She’s never been one to purposely hurt someone; physically or emotionally. She’s pretty awesome!
Some of this is personality. Some of it is how we raise her. I can’t take all the credit but I’ve done things to help promote this behavior. By no means am I perfect. These are just a few things we do. They are not in any sort of order.
1. Nip it in the backside: We don’t let any mean behavior go. Its addressed immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s directed toward a friend, a sibling, or me. My kids know without a doubt that inappropriate behavior is addressed.
2. Praise the good: As in the story above, when I see my kids doing good, I tell them. I let them know I’m proud of them when they are doing the right thing.
3. Provide a moral compass: I help direct them to God’s word and what he says about behavior. We’ve worked on memory verses. Two of my favorite are: Children obey your parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1) and Be kind to one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
4. Model good behavior: This is essential for anything to stick. We make an effort to demonstrate the expected behavior. My husband and I say please and thank-you. We avoid certain words from our language and are always respectful.
5. Monitor what is watched: What we watch and hear influences behavior significantly. It speaks to children and helps guide their thinking. Consider the message before sitting the kids in front of the television. Watch everything before the kids or at least with them.