What to Do When Your Child’s Friend is a Bully
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In hopes for more civility and decency nationwide, among people of ALL ages, I’ll be sharing some key articles, strategies and insights. Please read and share with those who work and live with school-aged kids!
In our kids’ early school years, we spend hours arranging playdates and planning parties. We become the architects (some call it “cruise directors”) of their positive social development. With nothing but the best of intentions, we strive to help our little ones develop the skills to make and maintain friendships. Until the day they make—and tenaciously maintain—a friendship with a mean girl. Then what?
Your once uber-confident, joyful gal is now anxiously and obsessively trying to please a friend who wields her power by being un-pleasable. When that inevitable day comes when your child’s “bestie” starts acting like a “frenemy,” what should you do? Should you do anything? Parents often struggle with the question of, “Should I intervene in my daughter’s friendship problems?”
The bottom line is this; no child should have to find her way through the friendship challenges of the school years alone. Kids need adult support and insights when it comes to navigating the choppy waters of friendship, disguised as a weapon. Here are some fundamental ways parents can help:
Teach Her to Know it When She Experiences It
One of the things that makes girl bullying so insidious is its under-the-radar nature. It is things left unsaid and invitations not given. It is unexplained cut-offs in friendship. It is silence. Girl bullying is marked by crimes of omission that make it very hard for girls to put their finger on what they are experiencing in their friendships—yet the pain, humiliation, and isolation are unmistakable.
Parents play a critical role in talking to their kids about girl bullying and making them aware of the typical behaviors that mark this cruel form of social aggression. Knowledge is power; when girls know what relational aggression looks and feels like, they are better able to make a conscious choice to move away from friends who use these behaviors.
Some of the most common girl bullying behaviors that parents can make their kids aware of include:
1. Excluding girls from parties and play dates
2. Talking about parties and play dates in front of girls who are not invited
3. Mocking, teasing, and calling girls names
4. Giving girls the “silent treatment”
5. Threatening to take away friendship (“I won’t be your friend anymore if…”)
6. Encouraging others to “gang up” on a girl you are angry with
7. Spreading rumors and starting gossip about a girl
8. “Forgetting” to save a seat for a friend or leaving a girl out by “saving a seat” for someone else
9. Saying something mean and then following it with “just joking” to try to avoid blame
10. Using cell phones and/or social media to gossip, start rumors, or say mean things to a girl
The remainder of this post is available on Psychology Today. Click below for the direct link or cut and paste the following one in your browser: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201202/what-do-when-your-daughters-friend-is-bully