Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mean Girls Start Early

For the last few weeks, Geeky Girl has been dealing with a mean girl who also happens to be her best friend. Now we've never been particularly fond of the best friend. She's kind of bossy and whiny, but we wouldn't have put her in the mean girl category. At the parent-teacher conference in early December, however, Geeky Girl's teacher discussed the problem with me, explaining that at least once, MG had said something mean enough to make GG cry. So we started talking to GG about MG, just asking her if they got along, asked her about the incident described by the teacher and talking about strategies. And now, we get a flood of information. And we're not liking what we're hearing. Regularly, MG tells GG that she's not going to be her friend if she doesn't do X or if she plays with someone else. Yesterday, she made "angry eyes" at GG during math. And then, I also heard that she regularly lies and as GG says, "I don't like people who lie." We had MG over over Christmas and she pretty constantly tried to manipulate GG, telling her what to do. I stepped in and said GG could do whatever she wanted.

I have a couple of theories about why MG behaves this way. One theory is that she has an older sibling in high school and she must hear her and her friends behave this way. The other theory, more likely I think, is that she's not adjusting to the new school very well and her way of dealing with her insecurity is to try to control the one thing she can: GG.

We've explained to GG that she doesn't have to be friends with MG and that we'd be happy to have anyone else from her class over for a playdate. We're also trying to help her come up with what she can say in response to the mean things MG says. The teacher has encouraged us to role play with GG so that she feels confident saying what she needs to to MG. The thing is the meanness is subtle most of the time. She uses a quiet and pleasant voice when she's being manipulative. So I think that GG has recognized that she's not on the up and up, but hasn't been able put her finger on what's going on and hasn't really known what to do about it. I had some very unpleasant mean girl experiences in middle and high school. It seems it's a rite of passage, but I really don't want it to be. I hope we can give GG enough confidence to deal with these situations and not feel beaten down by them. I can't believe we're dealing with this at the tender age of seven! On the bright side, it gives us time to deal with it. On the down side, it could be a looong road to the end of high school.