If you recall your tween years, you probably agree that middle school is a wild place. You’re jumping from one assignment to another, taking in changes in your body all at once. Moreover, children in middle school have to deal with mean people. This is also what your daughter will go through as she enters school.
Unfortunately, bullying is something that parents have less control of. You can always help your child be organized and explain things like menstruation and growing hair, but girl gangs and bullies? You can’t just go barging into the cafeteria and ask kids to sit beside your child. Nonetheless, you can protect your child from being at the receiving end of name-calling, gossip, and toxic friendships.
Why Boys and Girls Get Mean
The first thing that you should do is understand the behavior of mean girls. Generally, kids become spiteful because they want to have a sense of authority or control. And that’s because they feel powerless in other aspects of life. Children who experience problems with their parents are more likely to bully peers to get back a feeling of control. This not only applies to the ringleader of girl or boy gangs. It extends to their “subordinates.” Afraid that they might be left out of the group, they take control of the situation and bully the target themselves. In other words, highly insecure kids tend to be the mean people in school.
It takes a mature person to understand that bullies aren’t hateful people or that they’re coming from a place of hurt and fear. If you can bring your child to the point where they can extend empathy to bullies, then you have taught them a valuable outlook, one that will bring them not just academic success but also life fulfillment.
What Bullying Looks Like
Bullying takes on many forms. Among boys, it’s direct aggression, getting into fistfights on playgrounds. Among girls, it’s indirect. It’s sneaky and silent. Some girls love to gossip, spreading stories that aren’t true in the bathroom, in the locker room, or on social media. They say hateful things about a person and call them names, getting the rest of the school more intrigued. Other girls exclude others, not allowing their peers to sit with them at the cafeteria or not inviting them to sleepovers. It’s often the rich, popular ones who do these things. They use their social status to keep people out of their group.
While all these things seem petty to adults, they are a big deal to middle-schoolers, who are entering the fragile phase of puberty. They’re at the stage of exploring their identities in light of the groups they belong to. It’s essential not just to teach your child how to prevent or fight bullying; you also have to ensure that their environment is safe. If you’re still searching for your child’s next school, consider charter schools in Salt Lake City. See their anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies. Evaluate if the actions they take after bullying incidents are enough to discipline the bullies and comfort the bullied. More importantly, work closely with your child’s teachers.
Middle school is a fierce battleground for your tween, and not just in the academic sense. Get your son or daughter ready for the drama of aggressive boys and gossip girls. Teach them how to avoid bullies and stand up for themselves.