Make sure your daughter is not a ‘mean child’…
Over the Easter holidays you may have seen Mrs Jane Lunnon, Headmistress of one of our sister schools Wimbledon High, interviewed on the television programme This Morning about the guidance her school is giving their pupils to help them deal with toxic friendships, friendship breakdowns and ‘mean girls’.
Most adults – men and women – have at some point experienced being left out either deliberately or accidentally and therefore know how that exclusion makes their child feel.
Nancy Rue, a teacher-turned-author of the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy, has some advice for parents – she says it doesn’t help if you repeatedly tell your child it isn’t the end of the world if they haven’t, for example, been invited on the group shopping trip because to the overlooked child it is quite upsetting to be missed out. It is much better to acknowledge that it is natural to feel sad and to help the child get it in perspective for themselves. Rue also cautions against getting too emotionally involved as a parent and whilst it might be difficult it is better that the parent remains calm and does not make too many judgemental comments about the situation. Rue also says don’t try to solve the issue either but listen to your child and “follow their story rather than tell them yours.”
However, the best advice Rue gives in my opinion is to make sure your own child is not a ‘mean girl’. Teaching your daughter to be compassionate and stand up for others makes her a powerful force. Encouraging non-school friends made through interests pursued out of school helps children give perspective to minor fall-outs too and gives them someone else to turn to when they want to talk about situations. In other words the child’s entire socialising world should not be totally school based.
Coming back from a holiday reminds us that children are together at school much of the time during term time. As in any close relationship there are going to be times when pupils do not always get along with each other. Schools should aim to maintain a close partnership between school and home and each feel free to discuss friendship concerns. Furthermore if both parties encourage the girls to keep things in perspective whilst being caring and kind it will help prepare for the “mean girls” they will undoubtedly come across at some point in their adult life.