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Girl Fighting and Your Child

by Peggy Moss, J.D., Bullying Prevention Expert
Girl Fighting and Your Child

I recently gave a talk about bullying to a group of parents in my city. Afterward, a nervous-looking dad approached the front of the room to ask me a question. “My daughter is a good kid,” he said, adding that she was just ten years old. “Her friend made this announcement at school last Friday – I think it might even have been a joke at first–she said that nobody should talk to a certain boy in their class. My daughter thought that was stupid, so she walked up to the boy and said ‘Hi’ and talked to him anyway.” The father sighed before continuing. “I was really proud of her…”
But the next day when his daughter came home from school, she was crushed. “She told me that because she had ‘broken the rule’ and spoken to the boy who was being ignored, none of her friends would talk to her.”

“Chances are that at some point your daughter will come home from school feeling excluded, targeted, or ostracized, maybe even scared...As a parent, that sad and sometimes frustrating moment can be an opportunity, as long as you feel even a little bit prepared.”

On Monday morning, she didn’t want to go to school. “It was awful,” he said. “She was crying, begging not to go. I couldn’t believe this was happening.” In the end, she went. Monday was a hard day, but by Wednesday, his daughter was back on an even keel with her friends. The dad wasn’t yet, however. He was wary and anxious. He wanted his daughter to confront her friend, or better yet, to drop that group of friends altogether. And he certainly didn’t want to see that “mean girl” in his house.

This story strikes to the heart of what has become known as “girl fighting” or “relational bullying.” While there are horrifying instances of girls destroying each other’s lives, it’s important to keep in mind that girls get many more positives from their friendships than negatives. I spoke with Lyn Mikel Brown, professor at Colby College and the author of four books on girls’ social and psychological development, including: Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls. Brown points out that movies and television tend to emphasize the negative – portraying girls as back-biting, manipulative monsters. As parents, we run the risk of believing that what we see on T.V. reflects reality—when it doesn’t. “Psychology is filled with studies that tell us girls get support from their friendships, feel free to express a wide range of emotions, and take comfort in them,” says Brown. In other words, friendships are by-and-large a positive and important experience for girls.

This doesn’t mean that girl bullying doesn’t happen, because it does. Chances are that at some point your daughter will come home from school feeling excluded, targeted, or ostracized, maybe even scared. If you are lucky, she will turn to you for guidance on what to do, and share with you how she feels. As a parent, that sad and sometimes frustrating moment can be an opportunity, as long as you feel even a little bit prepared.

What to Do When Your Daughter is Bullied
Don’t over-react. Most parents, especially mothers, have experienced betrayal by friends in the past, and seeing a daughter crushed by a secret revealed or a mean trick can trigger an old hurt. While this is natural, it may not be the best reaction for our child. Many kids worry that their parents will be disappointed if they are not popular or well-liked, and that additional worry gets piled on top of the hurt they are carrying home from school. “If you don’t get a grip on that,” Brown says, “Part of your daughter’s response might be that she feels she’s not living up to your expectations.” This is a response we can scarcely afford—our best chance to keep our kids healthy and strong is to hear from them how they are really doing and feeling.

Listen. Ask questions. We have to be ready to listen. Brown, along with most others who talk about bullying and school safety, suggests that this is the most important thing for parents to do. After you have listened to your child’s story and feel confident that you understand how she feels about what happened, you can begin to ask questions like, “What do you think you can say next time? What do you think might work?” Help your child see what the outcome might be of their words and actions. For example, do some role plays and let her figure out what’s really going to work in this situation. (Sometimes our best intended ideas don’t really pan out in a school setting, and kids know that). Ask “What’s going to make you feel better about this situation?” But make sure you’re not the one coming up with the solution. It’s important that your daughter feels like she can try to solve the problem on her own terms, and also that she feels she can tell you if she is in over her head, and needs you to intervene on her behalf. (For more on this, see “My Child is being Bullied: What Should I do?”)

Make sure that your daughter knows that it’s okay to be angry. “Let her voice her sense of betrayal, and let her know that she has the right to expect better. She is a person who is valuable,” says Brown. Part of the process of reinforcing that your daughter is valuable and doesn’t have to take this treatment is to help her find tools to cope with her situation using her own courage and resilience. Ask her what would help her the most, and let her tell you how she thinks she might handle the situation the next time it occurs.

Help her find alternatives to her situation within the school. Brown suggests that parents play out different options for dealing with the situation, whether by simply talking through options ranging from finding allies and other friends, to getting involved in programs that spur a social life not so reliant upon people in your child’s school. Remind your daughter that allies turn up in unexpected places including kids in other groups. It is not uncommon for kids, even in a small school, to be surprised to find out that they have something in common with the student who sits next to them in math class. Like adults, kids develop social ruts. When those ruts fail us, it’s time to look, and sometimes not very far, for a change.

Show her how to shift her focus outward: If her school friends feel like the center of her universe and they are turning on her, open up the possibility of another universe outside of the school walls, where she knows that she can be a good friend, and have good friends. If your child does not have the option of reaching across a hallway or social group to make new alliances, consider turning her focus outward, whether to a community-sponsored art class or music lesson or a new or beloved sport. Team sports have long been touted for developing girls’ self esteem, and if the school environment doesn’t seem like the best place to let that happen, look into town or city leagues. Give her the choice of trying something she’s always wanted to do. Your daughter does not have to be a star to benefit from the sense of collegiality and support of a team, which requires depth and diversity to function well. If team sports don’t suit your child’s disposition, look to fencing, cycling, martial arts, theater, chorus, bowling—the activity itself doesn’t matter as much as the positive social experience. Ultimately, the goal is to give your daughter an outlet where she can increase confidence and widen her circle, to assure her that she doesn’t deserve to be targeted by her friends, and that she doesn’t have to take that kind of treatment.

Illegal or Physically Threatening Behavior
If the behavior is illegal or if she has been threatened with harm, if her property has been destroyed or she has been physically assaulted, a parent has no choice but to let the school know and contact law enforcement. In those severe situations – whether they involve threats online, assault, or sexual harassment—a parent should take action and get help. Laws frequently change, and vary from state to state. If your child is the target of illegal activity, contact authorities immediately. Bear in mind that it may diminish the severity of the situation to describe a threat as mere “bullying,” so be clear and specific about what has happened, both for your daughter’s sake, and also as you identify what has occurred when reporting to law enforcement. That said, police are sensitized to these issues, are increasingly able to trace cyber activity, and are willing to level punishments against aggressors. (Editor's note: For more on this, see "Combat Cyberbullying") Fortunately, as horrible – and well-publicized—as those situations are, they remain few and far between, and should not become the framework by which we assess our daughters’ interactions with their peers.

Talking to the School
Of course, school is still the place you send your daughter to learn, and though seeking a source of friendship, confidence and engagement outside of school may turn out to be necessary and/or helpful, it may not obviate the need, or your desire, to let teachers and administrators know what’s going on. This can be a tricky dilemma for parents whose children may insist that they not tell anyone.

If you decide to talk to your child’s school, I recommend transparency rather than going to school officials in secret and against your child’s will. In other words, let your child know what you are doing ahead of time. It is essential that your child trusts you, and continues to confide in you. If the situation is upsetting to her but is not severe, ask her if she feels like she can take on and conquer it safely on her own. She may be able to resolve a situation that might otherwise act as a drain on her confidence. I believe that resilience is a skill and an art, and we deprive our children of a form of survival training when we deny them the chance to bounce back on their own terms. However, if your daughter seems to want your assistance but is concerned that she will feel ridiculed for seeking help, see if you can figure out a way to get that help and stay behind a curtain.

As you approach this issue, bear in mind that bullying rarely happens in a vacuum. Most teachers will be willing to talk to an entire class or a smaller group of students about what they have witnessed. For some kids, merely having the spotlight shown on their behavior by a respected adult can act as a deterrent. This is particularly true of the quiet cuts and rumor-spreading that characterizes relational bullying, as these same students causing harm may be accustomed to getting along well with teachers and flying under the radar. Moreover, chances are that although she feels very much alone, your daughter is not the only person who has been targeted at her school or even by the particular child who is doing the bullying—and any one of the targets (or even the teacher) could have potentially raised this issue. This limits the risk that your child will be labeled a “tattle tale.”

Brown mentions another important thing to consider when dealing with schools: “Teachers are people with their own baggage, and many find it personally difficult to address the bullying, especially the relational aggression, they see or hear in the hallways and cafeterias.” Moreover, she says, “Schools can have norms and even formal policies that privilege some kids over others, say those on sports teams or those who can afford special trips. This reality filters down to students and impacts how they treat one another.” If you think this is the case in your child’s school, Brown suggests that you speak to the principal, superintendent, or even a school board member. “Encourage them to take the school’s climate more seriously and explore ways to educate and empower both students and staff.”

Dealing with Your Own Anger
Once your child has made her way through a fight and healed wounds with a friend, whether with your help or on her own, there’s a good chance you will face another obstacle: your own anger. Like the father at the beginning of this article, many parents struggle with the urge to bar the offending child from the house or the desire to forbid your child to talk to her. Brown urges a more nuanced approach. “While kids are less cognitively and psychologically sophisticated, in one way children are very much like adults: they’re complex,” Brown says. She reminds parents that it might take your child awhile to figure out that the kid who burned her is a friend she really doesn’t want to have. As parents, we can help provide our children with the framework, or scaffolding, for making that decision. We can talk to them about what we can expect and what we deserve from a true friend, what is fair, and how to deal with conflict, including specific words and role-playing. Encourage her to say what she feels and thinks, what she likes and doesn’t. We might even talk about how a child who has been labeled a bully might be suffering, and from what. But as to whether that girl can be your friend? “That’s not for the mother or father to decide,” Brown says. If she knows that she is valued and has your support and deserves good friends, she’ll figure out who she wants her friends to be. A key element of Brown’s approach is to remind your daughter that though she does have to be respectful to everyone, she does not have to be friends with everyone. With this is coupled some relational self-defense. Tell your daughter: “Choose the people you let in carefully.” The message here: “You don’t need to let everybody in.”

Ultimately, our best weapon against relational bullying—or any bullying—is to have an open line of communication with our kids, so they know that they can turn to us and count on us for sensible advice, long before the problem becomes too big or scary. Talk about it with your daughter, and let the process of building healthy, long lasting friendships and resilient allies begin.

Lyn Mikel Brown and Thomas A. Harnett were consulted for this article.


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Peggy Moss has worked to eradicate bullying for more than a decade, first as a prosecutor with the Department of Attorney General in Maine, and later as an educator and curriculum developer with the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence and the Cromwell Disabilities Center. Peggy has written three award-winning books for elementary-aged children on bullying, Say Something, Our Friendship Rules, co-authored by Dee Dee Tardiff, and One of Us.  She also gives seminars and bullying awareness workshops to healthcare providers, educators, students and parents in the United States and Canada. Peggy is a graduate of Princeton University and the Washington College of Law at American University, where she was head of the Juvenile Justice Association.  Peggy currently lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two daughters. For more information about Peggy, see www.SaySomethingNow.com.

READER'S COMMENTS

Thanks for the advice. I am trying to deal with this very issue right now, and now I have ammunition.

Comment By : Valerie

VERY GOOD WORK, I LEARNED SOMETHING TO TAKE HOME .KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

Comment By : COLLINS

The best philosophy in life is "do the right thing." The most difficult question becomes, what is the right thing in this case? Helping children learn how to answer the question and then find the way to implement it is the parent's role. While parental involvement might seem to make the child's situation worse by her standards, it doesn't negate the parent's obligation to help resolve the issue. The girl in this situation did the right thing by standing up to the bully approach: don't talk to this boy. She should be commended for her actions. To deal with the aftermath of her friends' rejection, she could speak to several or all of them with the message: what if we did this to you and no one stood up on your behalf? By a parent using his maturity to analyze and suggest solutions, he teach conflict resolution, a highly valued commodity in life.

Comment By : Mamaduke in Yuba City, CA

I am the mom of one daughter, as well as an ex teacher and currently a psychologist, and the story of the little girl is not at all uncommon. In fact the being great friends one day and ostracized by the same friends the next is fairly normal in girl cliques and grades 5 through 8. This is far from bullying, and if blown out of proportion, by calling it bullying is misleading to parents, especially if this is their first or only daughter growing up. Talking it through and listening to your daughter helps her solve her own problems. The suggestions are great, but why the correlation between "girl-fighting" and "bullying?" Any other moms out there have comments?

Comment By : Concerned

At my kids' school, I've seen many shades of bullying. There's been everything from fist fights after school (boys and girls both) to cyberbullying, and the list goes on. Thank you so much for this helpful advice--I feel like I'll be able to help my daughters the next time something happens.

Comment By : Jill D.

To Concerned-- Just because a behavior is "normal", meaning that it's common, doesn't mean it's acceptable. When girls are taught that exclusion and rudeness are not appropriate behaviors, everyone is happier. If they are allowed to to practice controlling each other by shutting each other out, the situation can escalate to the point that school work is impossible. Peggy Moss has some great suggestions for kids on her website: http://www.saysomethingnow.com/justforkids.php

Comment By : MomCooks

I see a lot of relational spats, as well as verbal bullying, as I'm a substitute teacher with K-5. I mediate privately with students to try and help them solve the small stuff and leave quick notes for teachers when there is an incident. However, I've had a number of cases where girls have gone out of their way to taunt or tease classmates who are known to get into trouble (due to ADD or other concerns that might be in an IEP). They do it for the sheer satisfaction of watching another kid lose it and get sent to a safe seat or out of the room. These girls lose their smug smirks and are surprised and angry when I write them up for bullying and they're referred to staff for consequences. I have zero tolerance for this in the classroom.

Comment By : another mom

I sure wish this dialog was around when I was tormented by nasty girls in 7th and 8th grade. To this day, I still feel the sting of their betrayal and ostracizing. There may be more complex issues now than when I was a young teenager, but thankfully there is much more openness and proactiveness to go along with it. Kudos to both authors and all other pioneers bringing this information forward.

Comment By : Cara

My 15 year old daughter attends a Catholic, all girl academy. Apparently my daughter and her friends decided to "teach" the school bully a lesson. They got together and "took" some of her stuff. The bully left some gum and misc items on the lunch table. I had a great delema, do I report the incident to the school? My daughter would certainly be implicated. She was comfortable enough to tell me the truth and I would not want to break that trust. I certainly had a firm discussion with my daughter about stealing and no matter who it is, or how small the items were, it is wrong and illegal. My daughter was not the "master-mind" and didn't take anything but she was there. It was certainly a peer pressure situation.

Comment By : Barbara

This article showed up in my email on the exact day I needed it. I left my daughter at school this morning and felt so defeated, frustrated, and mad as you know what at the school, the source of the problem, and that child's parents. My daughter was depressed, crying, and fearful to simply go to class because a girl has effectively ostracized her from all of her friends and made her feel inferior. For a couple of weeks now she has come home saying that she hates her life and wants to die. She's never done that...she was also getting into a LOT more trouble at home than usual as well. Finally, my wife asked why the big change and we found out about the relentless bullying... I used to deal with bully's in a direct manner when I was her age...by beating them up...problem solved (this was wrong on so many levels...however, in my own defense, I didn't let my friends get bullied and I did NOT pick on or bully others). But I guess that made me a bully to the bully didn't it...not much better I guess. I grew up in a non-Christian setting with decent ethics and morals for the most part...However, now I am a Christian and can't rightly tell my daughter to start beating up every bully that ruffles her feathers. So...I was at a total loss on how to help my daughter handle this situation. Thank you for this information.

Comment By : A Father

I suffered from bullies in middle school and on the bus for years. I was shy and thought if I ignored them they would go away. They didn't. I only got relief after I stood up to them. Now, I have a 13 year old daughter who is shy and gets picked on. The favorite term at her school is to call girls "Lesbos" if they don't have a boyfriend. It is very hard and I probably have let my feelings get in the way. This year also boys have pushed her and thrown things at her in gym. I contacted the asst. principal for that. It seems like a lot happens with teachers nearby. I think they don't always get involved because it happens alot and some of it is expected. I just wish my child could go to school and learn and not have to deal with harassment. Thank goodness for our Church youth group which has given her more confidence and some positive relationships with kids her age. Thank you for sharing some good advice on how to deal with difficult situations.

Comment By : A concerned Mom

* Dear Barbara: Thank you for your question. In fact, this is a great learning opportunity, I think. It is a good sign that your daughter confided in you. Rather than you "turning in" your daughter (I think you are right to be concerned about losing her trust if you did so), I would recommend that you talk to her about rectifying the situation herself. I don't know enough about the specifics to know how to "make this right," but your daughter does. I would recommend two lines of discussion. First, ask your daughter to consider whether stealing this person's gum is likely to bring about the change that she wants. If not, ask what she thinks would make a difference, and whether she's willing to do it. A part of this discussion is to give thought to why it's not good enough to stand by when our friends are doing something wrong. Be honest with your daughter about how hard it is to speak up, (it’s really hard to do!!) but don't excuse her failure to do so. The second part of your conversation concerns "making it right." As you have said, theft is not okay. Your daughter needs to take responsibility for her own actions. Maybe she replaces the stolen items. Maybe she talks to her friends about making it right. Maybe she writes an anonymous note explaining her actions, apologizing, and provides money to replace the items. It is key that she understand that this is not appropriate conflict resolution. (Imagine if we resolved problems at the office by stealing each other's phones or pencil sharpeners). One last comment: While no doubt there is a long and complicated history here, I'd caution against labeling a kid "the school bully," and here's why: How is that kid ever going to get on her feet again, especially in the small school setting you've described? If she is inclined to change her ways, what encouragement/hope does she have once she’s been labeled and packaged? Moreover, in this particular instance, who acted like a bully? I think it's important that we remember that we all play roles - most of us, by the time we are adults, have been target, bully, and bystander at least once. I worry that using the label “School Bully” gives kids license to do things that we don’t ever want them to do. Thanks again for your question. I hope these thoughts are of some help.

Comment By : Peggy Moss

Dear Ms. Moss, Thank you so much for your time and insight. I will re-visit the incident with my daughter; but this time, I will embrace the "making it right" idea. I also agree that labeling anyone a "bully" is unfair, because this time, my daughter was one of the bullies. No one would like to think of their child as being cruel or abusive. But, I guess it happens and as parents we need to take a proactive instead of reactive role. Thank you again!

Comment By : Barbara

All of these articles are helpful to a point. I have used all the advise with my daughter now that she has been excluded from her friend group. What I need to know is how to teach her to deal with being alone at school. She is very shy and would have trouble approaching an already established group of other girls so now she has to eat lunch and have recess alone. This makes her feel terrible about herself as well as making the mean girl feel successful in that she was able to isolate my daughter. How do I handle this next step?

Comment By : Loving Mom

* Dear Loving Mom, Rather than having her accept that she is alone, why not try to help her with some opportunities to find new interests and maybe new friends along the way. Let her know you have confidence that she can find a friend. Encourage her to make eye contact and then send a smile to those she sits next to in classes. Have your daughter choose an after school club or sport that she likes. Be sure to let her pick it, but require her to join one group activity. If the focus is on the activity, it’s less awkward to socialize. That way, she’ll always have a good time at the activity she likes and if a friendship comes out of it, that’s an added bonus. If she is really shy of group activities, there are still things that she can join that, although in a group, she'll be focusing on herself, such as art classes, band or chorus. It’s a socializing start.

Comment By : Banks, LCSW, Parental Support Line Advisor

I have an 8 year old daughter going to a catholic school. She has a group of "friends" that she used to play with at school and also out of school, our families are all friends. For many, many months this group of girls have ostrized her at school and they do the same when we are all together doing family get togethers, one on one they are fine put there is a " pack " mentality when they are together and she is always the one who eveyone goes against. I have spoken to the other Mum's about this and they all in turn have spoken to their girls but it continues. I am now having a councelor work with both of us to help her understand why her "so called friends" are doing this and to help her deal with it better. I had run out of ways to help and my anger toward them all was growing. She is very hurt and feels very let down that at one time they were all so close and now she is the outcast. This article has helped me with some of the questions I had. Thankyou

Comment By : Concerned Mum

My daughter is 13 and has always had good, close friends. Over the past several months there have been some changes and she was being made fun of by these 4 out of the 5 good friends. She stared to get closer to one of the girls in her group of 5 and it seems that the girls are now "paying her back for this" and purposefully leaving her out and excluding her. If they invite her it seems to be more out of having to as the parents are all friendly. Should you ever go to the parents and talk with them? Not confrontational but to let them know what is going on and see if there is a problem that you don't know about??? This isn't right that this gets allowed to go on. My oldest daughter has flashbacks of being ostracized in grammar school. I don't want this to happen to my other daughter!!

Comment By : concerned mother again

* Dear ‘Concerned Mother Again’ It is painful for parents to witness anything that hurts our kids. We want to do whatever we can to make that experience end. However, given the circumstances you describe, it sounds like you might make things a lot worse if you talk to the other parents. Be especially careful of going to the other parents behind your daughter's back. When she finds out about that, it will likely cause your daughter to stop telling you her concerns in the future. It sounds like your daughter became closer to one of the friends in the group and this has caused some retaliation from the others. This behavior among girls is very normal and usually works itself out. It will not be helpful to ask the other parents to require their daughters to be close friends to your daughter again. All we can ask of our children is to behave politely to each other. We cannot require a specific feeling from them. And from your story, that sounds like that’s already happening -- the other kids are behaving politely as she continues to be included in social events between the families. Friendships shift and change through the years. These changes can be emotional, but it’s a process that no one can avoid. I think it’s wonderful that you're there for her and ready to help in the best way possible. Keep in touch with us and let us know how things are going.

Comment By : CAROLE BANKS, Parental Support Line Advisor

I copied this sentence because I believe it misses an important point. "Brown points out that movies and television tend to emphasize the negative – portraying girls as back-biting, manipulative monsters. As parents, we run the risk of believing that what we see on T.V. reflects reality—when it doesn’t." Actually, worse than deforming reality to show girls as monsters, the T.V. and movies tend to show these type of behaviors as appealing, the bad girls are always laughing (except for the end of the show, which is rather short), and laughing harder and having a much better time than the well behaved girls. The T.V. producers are actually directing (probably unwillingly) the behavior of many girls to become the monsters we see.

Comment By : very concerned

Hi, My daughter is only in kindergarden and she told me in October that another girl was bossing her around, so I told her to tell the other girl to stop. The school has only twenty six students from pre-k to grade six. Kindergarden and grade one are grouped together. There are three girls in kindergarden and one in grade one. It is the girl in grade one that was bossing her around. Well, since she told the girl in grade one to stop things have gotten worse. Now none of the girls will play with her and they tease and taunt her. The teacher gave her lower grades because she is unable to get along with the others and apparently she is not showing her personality. I also spoke with the principal and he said that she should stop whining and become more mature. He even talked to her about maturity in his office. He also told me that relational bulling does not occur in the lower grades like kindergarden and grade one. I am at a loss I want so much to help my daughter but I feel like there is a lack of information on such issues in these young ages. Also I am second guessing myself, it is possible that she is to blame for being a whiner and less mature? Thank you Brenda

Comment By : Brenda

Thanks for this article. My 9 year old Daughter has gone through this at her Daycare the past two years, but especially this year was extremely hard for her. She even felt that all the Teachers hated her! She would tell me some of the things the girls would say to her and I couldn't believe that 8 and 9 yr olds could be so cruel! Calling her a backup friend, a third wheel, saying she needed to wear better clothes, telling her to grow taller or they wouldn't be her friend! I finally brought it to the Manager's attn, and she did set them all down and have a talk, but it didn't stop. SO, I brought it to the Owner's attention along w/ telling the Owner all the smart aleck comments some of the Teachers made like "I'm just waiting for the day you fall down in those big shoes! I'll laugh!" and when girl pushed my Daughter down on the playground my Daughter was told "Oh well, you'll live!" and the pusher never got in trouble! It was one thing after another this Summer and my Daughter couldn't WAIT to go to School and I was ready to yank my kids outta that Daycare! They'd gone there since my 7 yr old was a baby and I'd never had one complaint, but you do, you really start to feel so angry at the Adults that work there, the Parents of these mean girls and very mad at the kids. I just would glare at one of the girls that would give me this sweet little smile, yet I knew what all she'd say to my Daughter. My Daughter is so very smart, so kind, so thoughtful and caring, she'd never instigate anything cruel to anyone, I guess that's why I get so upset. I feel we both have to work to make ends meet, yet here I am leaving her here w/ these meanies at Daycare and I just wanted to cry! I don't know if anything was said because the Owner of the Daycare did say she was having a meeting w/ all Employees and w/ the Parents of the girls and if the Employees were acting like this, there'd be heck to pay cuz she wasn't putting up w/ it. I never did get a response back (I sent her an email...) so now I'm just taking vacation time off during school time whenever there's a day off from school so she won't have to go back for awhile. She seems to be doing great in School and she's in a Softball League w/ wonderful girls that treat her nicely. BUT, she keeps bringing up the past, all the time about what those girls at Daycare said, etc and I try telling her that it's over, that was in the past and she needs to forgive them and move on, even tho it's very very hard. Thanks for listening, it's really hard being a Parent, dealing w/ work stresses, issues w/ my Mom that has Alzheimer's, then hearing your Daughter tell you all these mean things that kids have said to her. I think she'll come out stronger in the end when she matures and realizes that this is not how true friends treat you. She'll realize that she needs to speak up for herself and move on.

Comment By : Miss Red

The comment about it being normal for girls to ostracize others is not correct.My daughter has been dealing with this issue from one girl for the past 2yrs.I have tried getting help from the schools and the teachers.The harm that this has done to my daughter has effected our whole family.She is not the same child that she was before this started.

Comment By : TonyaR

my granddaugter is going through all that is school now.she is almost 14 years old.she has been threatened to gang up on and beated up and her life threated. she has been telling the school about it,principals and such. but they say all they can do is to talk to them so nothing has happened.her mom has talked with them too. my granddaughter is an A student and she does comfront them but they still wont leave her alone. she hs witnesses and facebook threats from them. its such a shame. i guess i will need to step in leagally now.

Comment By : ariane

thank u

Comment By : alex

My daughter went through same issues.I made mistake of trying to talk to he mom. She said she was insulted, and would keep her child away from mine. Now the girls get along, but this mom tries to intimidate my 9 yr by staring at her. School is aware and has just asked me to ignore lady. This makes my daughter uncomfortable.

Comment By : ms attitude

My teen daughter just experienced relational bullying at her new school. She was so excited to be going to a new school after being home schooled for 2 years, and she entered her new school with joy and excitement. Boy did that end quickly! She came home every day crying and upset; none of the other 8 girls in the class would engage her in conversation or ask her to sit with them or try to get to know her. My daughter had never experienced this kind of social shutout ever before--she's moved frequently due to our military life and she's been in several church groups and on mission trips where she's quickly become best friends with other girls. This was so totally an arctic zone! We brought the issue to the counselor's attention and she said she'd try to observe and intervene, but to no avail. Finally our daughter was starting to get physically ill and begging to stay home, so we withdrew her and moved her to another school. I think relational bullying is pooh-poo'd too much and not given real concern. To the person who experiences it, they can suffer physically and emotionally. To those who passively participate, they are as bad as the group leader who by sheer weight of personality does this to an innocent person. What made it even worse was this was a "christian" school. And, as a Christian, it made us all very sad to have her experience such negative, unChrist-like behavior. Heartbreaking for our family, and we're still trying to help her put this behind her. It really crushed her attitude about more than just school--our daughter who was originally okay with being here is now asking us to move again (and for this military family, that's been too much a part of our lives!). Anyway, bullying with girls is way more social and emotional control than the physical stuff done to boys. And I think that is much more long-term in its damage than physical encounters. All I know is it's been a tough time for our family, and I wish we had never put her in that school to begin with! Oh, one more thing: an acquaintance asked us if she was going to that school, and we hesitated when we answered. She actually said, "oh, did she meet the little _itches? Cuz everyone knows how they are, and my sons won't even date 'em!" So at least this gave us some small comfort that as we had assured our daughter all along, it wasn't her, it was them! And, finally, yes we did all the other things recommended: encouraged her to find friends elsewhere, focus on outside activities, pray for all concerned, engaged our youth minister in supporting & encouraging her...but a couple of weeks of chillzone were making our daughter just get more and more self-conscious and fragile. Totally unlike our daughter, who previously would come home with laughter, and friends, and so happy. She gave them time to get to know her and they still rejected her. Hard lesson to learn at any age, and we encourage her daily to just keep focusing on the good things in our lives and not let this define her. Our wise teen even reminded us that Jesus was rejected, so she guessed it could even happen to God! Wow, that made us all laugh/cry/pray even harder. Maybe that was God's lesson in all of this...

Comment By : sassysteelmagnolia

A nine year old I coach walked in for a session the other day. Her mom had called ahead requesting that we put away the singing for this week. Story goes, her daughter was having some friendship and bullying issues at schools. She'd been a mess when her mom picked her up--crying really hard..Confessing her GFs were on her case and that she'd been kind of a bully back. Her mom asked me to remind her about our "Whatever" song. Long story, but basically, I pen tunes for kids full of insight and advice. This particular song teaches kids they don't have to respond to another person's mood--they can just say whatever and save their day. But this little munchkin needed more. We discussed what she was reacting to; She hated that she'd been saying mean things back. She admitted that she was angry because a girl she didn't like had been admitted into her female inner circle of friends. We discussed another song she's about to record called "Monkey" all about the thoughts in our heads that can be the biggest bullies of all. She help up the paper and said "You know, LIFE is all about this--huh? I've got a rule in my head that says a circle of four friends is cool. Five is one too many..and that thought is making me mad! And because I'm mad--I'm being mean. How dumb is that?" I work with kids daily, both as a vocal coach and producer and as an informal Yoda. Here's what I've learned; they LOVE wisdom. They LOVE humor hidden underneath their fear that pokes out, says hello...and then we laugh! It IS possible. The girl walked out of our session all smiles vowing to not be mean, to get over her silly rule in her head--that she'd uncovered all by herself! There is hope. We just need to guide our young people a little more thoroughly.

Comment By : IamBullyproofMusic.org

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Girl Fighting, Peggy Moss, Bullying Expert, problem behavior, children discipline, child discipline, angry teenager, kids anger, struggling teen, abusive teens

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