In my little neck of the woods, we are all a-buzz with thoughts and wishes about the postcards scheduled to be mailed from our local elementary school tomorrow, letting us know who our kids’ teachers will be for the coming school year.  While I have hopes for a specific teacher with a reputation for inspiring creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, what I am really wishing for most is that my daughter’s class be filled with nice kids.

The little voice inside my head nags that that expectation is too high.  We are approaching the third grade year–girls are getting meaner.  I hate to say it.  I don’t want to give in to stereotypes.  But I know it to be true.  The bullying that “peaks in middle school” according to statistics, grows very strong roots in elementary school.

I would like to rely on hope alone, that my daughter will be surrounded by kind, compassionate girl friends, but I know that wishful thinking is not enough.  I know that what my daughter needs is real skills to cope with mean girls–to recognize bullying when she experiences it (especially when it comes disguised as friendship and involves social exclusion, rumor-spreading, and other tactics that aim right for the self-esteem jugular), and to know how to stand up for herself effectively.   In my book, Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Aged 5-11 to Cope with Bullying, I provide these kinds of suggestions, activities, and skills for parents and professionals working with kids.  It’s one thing to write the book and do this work with other people’s daughters.  It’s yet another to walk down this emotional road with your own child and know in the back of your mind that even armed with the best skills and most support, it can be an unkind world out there.

Moms are talking about how best to accompany their daughters on this rocky path of young friendships at  Check out this Q&A on “How to Deal with Mean Girls.”

What suggestions do you have for coping with bullying disguised as friendship?  How do you help prepare your daughter for the perils of mean girls?

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