Dealing with mean girls can take a serious toll. Mean girl behaviour can surface in numerous ways. It could look like exclusion, gossiping, spreading rumours, making nasty comments, belittling, cyberbullying or backstabbing. It’s important to be aware of the effects of long-term bullying on your daughter’s mental health. This can include eating disorders, PTSD, body image issues, anxiety and depression and even self harm. If you’re worried that your daughter is being bullied at school, here are some of our best tips on how to deal with mean girls.
8 Signs Your Daughter is Being Bullied
1. Changes in her mood and lashing out more often
2. She doesn’t want to go to school (makes up excuses such as being sick all the time so she doesn’t have to go)
3. Vanishing friends and/or lack of communication with friends
4. Changes in sleeping patterns (trouble sleeping, nightmares, bedwetting)
5. Changes in eating habits (skipping meals, unable to eat, binge eating)
6. Dropping grades
7. Losing interest in her favourite activities
8. Change in her demeanour when she’s online or scrolling social media
7 Tips to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls
1. Talk to Your Daughter
If you notice behavioural changes in your daughter, talk to her and find out if she’s been facing any problems at school. Make sure she feels supported and like she can come to you with her issues. The most important thing is that she continues to keep you or another adult, such as a teacher or guidance counsellor in the loop. There are a number of reasons why kids don’t tell anyone about bullying, but you should stress that you and other adults are there to help them. Be willing to listen to her without judgment or trying to fix things. Validate her feelings and let her know that she shouldn’t try to go through this on their own.
2. Flex Her Problem Solving Muscles
Although it’s tempting to want to solve your child’s problems for them, it’s important that they try to work things out for themselves, with your help. For example, you can try role playing with your daughter to see how she may respond to the mean girls. Brainstorm things she can say and what might work to get the mean girl(s) off her back, but make sure you’re not coming up with all the ideas. She should feel like she can ask for your help, but it’s also important that she feels like she can solve problems on her own.
3. Urge Her to Stay Strong
Mean girls often look for an easy target and pick on people they feel they can control and manipulate, so encourage your daughter to stay strong and confident. She should avoid looking nervous, insecure or defeated and try to act like it doesn’t bother her. Work on ways to build her self esteem. Practice good posture, a strong speaking voice and good eye contact. Mean girls are less likely to repeat their behaviour when their victims remain confident.
4. Focus on Finding Good Friends
Mean girls are often a group of “popular” girls everyone wants to be friends with, in fact, your daughter may even be in the group but ended up becoming a target of their bullying. Talk to your daughter about how to spot fake friends. Fake friends will typically only contact you when they need something, make you feel bad about yourself and try to turn others against you. Help your daughter figure out other options for kids she can hang out with. Encourage her to invite their new friends over. Healthy friendships are often one of the biggest deterrents of bullying.
5. Spend Less Time on Social Media
Social media can be toxic for kids and teens, especially if your daughter is a target of cyber bullying. You don’t need to ban your daughter from using social media, but encourage her to spend less time on the apps. Urge her to spend more time on schoolwork, get her involved in sports or other extracurriculars, or if she’s old enough and can handle it, suggest she get a part time job. Spending her time on other important things will help her gain control back.
6. Get Her Involved in Activities Outside of School
Piggybacking on the point above, urge your daughter to sign up for activities outside of school. Help her brainstorm what she may be interested in doing, such as dance classes, sports, gymnastics or art classes and sign her up as soon as possible. Not only will this give her something to do to take her mind off what’s happening at school, it will also help her gain confidence and make new friends.
7. Seek Help
If it feels like your daughter needs help beyond what you’re capable of, get in contact with a medical professional, counsellor or therapist. If she’s showing any signs of concerning behaviour, such as an eating disorder or self harm, it’s important to seek out help as soon as possible to help your daughter cope with mean behaviour and manage how she deals with it in a healthy way. The longer the troublesome behaviour goes on, the more difficult it will be to get under control, so it’s important to get help when you first see the signs.
If your daughter is being bullied at school, it’s important you’re supportive, helpful and also seek additional help if needed. We hope these tips can guide you in helping her.
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