Finding the Meaning Behind the Mean in Girls and Women
While typical bullying or mean-girl behavior has a tendency to start in adolescence, that same attitude and behavior can often extend into adulthood. Being the victim of vicious attacks or relentless criticism from mean girls can absolutely take a toll on a person, especially a young girl who has not yet developed the coping skills or sense of self to deal with such hurtful behavior. However, in order to find true resolve and prevent the mean-girl antics from continuing, it is important to make even the slightest attempts at finding the meaning behind the mean.
Going Beyond the Label “Mean Girl”
While having a daughter, sister, or friend who is the victim of a mean girl is devastating, having your daughter, sister, or friend be the mean girl can be just as hard. Every case of bullying is subjective to different circumstances, and though there are some cases of pure cruelty, it is rare that a mean girl is mean simply for the sake of being cruel. Allowing for the child who is doing the bullying to have the opportunity to speak up and express what they are experiencing will result in a more vulnerable and honest disclosure of the reasons behind their behavior.
Helping Those They Have Hurt
Despite seeking a solution and having empathy for the girl who is being mean, it is equally, if not more important, to ensure that the victim or victims of this behavior are being listened to and heard. Instead of simply advising them on how to respond to mean girls, take time to remind them that how they are being treated is not a reflection of their own worth or value, but a reflection of something going on in the inflictors’ own personal world or self-perception.
Building a Bridge
When it is possible, encouraging a safe and mediated space for conversation and expression between parties is a way to ensure that real progress and healing can take place. In a close, inescapable setting such as school, it is imperative to make every attempt for peace possible. While some individuals are better off avoiding one another and steering clear, the best outcome happens when true remorse and forgiveness are expressed. Building a bridge between the bully and the bullied is the ultimate way to retribution and resolution, and though it may seem like a difficult feat, it is not impossible.