Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Mean girls" syndrome alive and thriving- We need a Challenge Day

Blog post by Tina Winterlik © 2011

So unfortunately "Mean Girl Syndrome" is alive and thriving in Grade 3-4 girls. We got our first good taste of it yesterday. Three littles girls who know each other playing together in the pool. My child trying to join in but was quickly ignored. She was really hurt. She couldn't understand why? We've talked about bullying before.

I tried to make light of it, said it was just because they knew each other, but you could totally see the "relationship aggression " happening.

My daughter had politely asked "May I play with you?" The one girl said nothing..One girls said "Of Course!" But when my daughter was talking to the first girl, the child she had known the longest...that child said "I'll be right back" then she went to the other child and never returned. Then the proceeded to tell secrets and ignore my child. I played with her and tried to make light of it all. My girl was really hurt, she has tried to be so nice to this girl, but there are some real issues here.

There was another child there, trying to fit in badly too, but it wasn't happening for her either. This child has no mother and I'm worried for her. When she was playing by herself, my child approached her to play, but she too, said no...and so it begins. The mean girl syndrome is alive and well and thriving.

I know these kids, not that well but I know there's issue of alcoholism, divorce, separation, kids living in 2 places, half the time with one parent, half with the other. These kids have seen there parents bully each other and now they've got a lot of baggage they are carrying to school where it's obviously playing out on the playground. And these are JUST GRADE 3 KIDS...GOING INTO GRADE 4.

This is WHY I have homeschooled. I didn't want my child, to experience this. My child who can talk to anyone, any age, and make them feel great. People and strangers comment on her good manners and her ease of being social. I feel I'm about to make a huge mistake. What can I do?

EDUCATE. Blog it.  Pray that you will SHARE IT.

Pray that you will sit down with your child and talk about this serious horrible ugly issue. Will you please do that for me?

It's so important. You "Could" Save a Child's Life.

SERIOUSLY! Children die or in turn kill in extreme cases of bullying. Don't let that happen. Please. Watch this Video Below.  Get a Challenge Day going in your school.

Now I'm about to send my child to school and part of me is Super Hesitant. Here are obvious signs, happening right in front of me. When I discreetly mentioned it to the mother, she just thought it was so good my kid was finally going to public school,  so my kid would know how to handle life. WTF?


"Mean girls" syndrome studied

Jamie Ostrov looks at why girls turn to a different type of relational aggression

"The discipline and structure and skills are very empowering," notes Ostrov. Now, the newest member of the Department of Psychology faculty—and its only developmental psychologist at present—is using his talents to study young children and find out why girls turn to a very different kind of relational aggression.

He and other researchers also want to discover effective, empowering tools to help girls combat somewhat invisible, but brutally damaging, opponents—gossip, reputation-bashing, social exclusion and boyfriend swiping—that can turn adolescence into an emotional land mine for young women. This is the so-called "mean girls" syndrome that has captivated the media's attention in recent years. Read More Here

From Hope House Online
Boys and girls engage in aggression, but girls are more likely to express aggression in a relational sense, including behaviors such as rumors, gossip and social exclusion. Girls purposefully ignore or exclude other girls, spread rumors, and tell peers not to associate with another girl as a means of retaliation. Girls use their relationships to inflict harm, manipulate peers, and injure others' feelings of social acceptance.

For example, a relational aggressive girl may insist that her friends ignore a particular child, exclude her from their group, form secret pacts to humiliate the child, call her names, and/or spread rumors about her. Examples of such manipulation include, "If you don't do what I say, I won't play with you." Children in preschool have been observed excluding peers by saying, "Don't let her play," or using retaliation, "She was mean to me yesterday, so she can't be our friend." In older girls, the gossip can be more vicious, for example, "Her dad's a druggie," "I saw her cheat," or "She think she's all that."


Profile of a girl bully

Girl bullies, fueled by their own insecurities, play on the greater insecurities of others, and play it well. “There is a gang mentality and these girls are able to incite an entire clique through manipulation and fear,” Saunders says.

It usually starts in late elementary and blooms in middle school, timed well with the blossoming of hormones, which is timed well with the need for peer acceptance. Saunders explains that “personal power, such as popularity, becomes important when you are beginning to define yourself. We define ourselves at that age through the eyes of other kids.”

Usually girl bullies possess a certain charisma or charm that attracts others to them in the first place. “She may be fun to be with, someone who makes you feel special when she is favoring you.”

But this gift is buried in baggage that also contains other emerging emotional issues: abandonment fears, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, a sense of powerlessness over other areas of their lives. 

Powerful fears need powerful weapons. “Girls rule,” Saunders says, “through passive-aggressive means—it’s what they’re socialized, conditioned, even trained to do.”

A girl bully will find someone who is “different” to belittle; weaker, to dominate; stronger, to neutralize. She attacks insidiously through gossip, whispering, rumors, social exclusion from the lunchroom table, the slumber party, the playground. She may be part of the “bully-victim” cycle, needing to control others because she feels bullied.


Local principal tackles 'Mean Girls' syndrome'

DeSantis was receiving multiple phone calls at the beginning of the school year from parents concerned about their daughters. There were some girls who didn't want to go to class because of gossip that had been spread or bullying they had experienced from other girls at the school.

"(It was) those hurtful things girls do to one another," DeSantis said.

She decided to confront the problem head-on. She set up a meeting with the girls -- those who had spread the gossip and those who'd been hurt by it -- to work out their differences and get at the root of the problem.

"The first few meetings were rough," DeSantis said.

So she had them play icebreaker-type games and helped the girls get to know the other sides of one another. And amazingly, it worked.

Sitting in one of their weekly chats earlier this month, many of the girls said they hadn't realized they were causing such problems and were beginning to understand why they were engaging in some of the mean behavior.

Challenge Day

Challenge Day

Our vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated.

The Challenge Day mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tina,

Thank you for addressing this topic!
Our daughter is in her teens and attends a "Christian" school and is excluded for no good reason! The girls involved are very shrewd, very subtle in this so that it goes undetected by school staff! It is heartbreaking because our daughter is a good person and worthy of friendship!

Tina Winterlik said...

Ah that's heartbreaking. Would be nice if could pull her out and travel for a year, undo some damage. We haven't actually done school yet so I can't say how I would respond. I suggest a "Challenge day" but if not, travel is super enlightening. It is definitely tough out there, but understanding it and being able to talk about it helps a lot, I believe. Being aware is the first step. I've seen this show "What would you do" and it shows where if they get just one person to side with the "bullied", the bully loses power, then a couple more and before you know the issue is diffused the bully is gone, but girls have to be strong and not go along. Staying quiet empowers the bully and makes the think you are on their side.

The whole school thing is so abnormal anyways...but don't get me started...;) Thanks for commenting. Tina