Protecting your daughter from 'mean girls'

May 3, 2010 4:38:07 PM PDT
How to protect your daughter from "mean girls." Simple steps to boost your children's self-esteem.

We exist in a "catfight" culture, characterized within magazines, music and reality TV, that encourages female competition instead of collaboration.

Bullying in many ways is reflective of a culture in which women/girls are too often pitted against one another instead of encouraged to stand together. Young girls are especially vulnerable to these media messages.

What should parents do?

Girl360 talk a lot about the importance of finding our young girls good female role models, but the truth is that if you are a Mom, YOU are your daughter's most powerful role model.

She is learning her self-confidence, self-image and what it means to be female today by observing you and communicating with you. Girl360 is all about fostering that communication between tweens and their parents, specifically moms.

If you suspect your daughter is a victim of bullying, there are some hands-on steps to help her through it:

  • Encourage your daughter to talk about bullying and encourage confrontation. Teach her to say no, set clear boundaries and don't go back for more abuse. Teach her to protect herself from abusive situations.

  • Focus on your daughter's passions and strengths. Diverse activities and diverse social groups is key in the tween years. Don't allow yourself to be owned or your self-worth to be determined by any "clique."

  • Take control of friendships. Encourage the fostering of new friendships in other groups. Help her identify and reach out to three new friends.

  • "Out the bully" - organize a group of other victims, teachers and new friends to challenge the bully's behavior and tell the bullies that the behavior is unacceptable!
Girls who feel good about who they are are more accepting of other girls. The problem is that girls are too often told that they are NOT good enough: that they need to be prettier, better-dressed, etc.

We need to seed a different set of values in girls, recognizing them for who they are instead of how they look and what they wear. When we build girls up, they are less likely to tear other girls down.

The adult tendency to "look away" or underestimate children's cruelty to other children as "kids will be kids" needs to be held in check. Bullying is serious -- and bullying kids grow up to be bullying adults. We as parents and mentors need to see the signs, step in and act!

About Randi Shafton:

From Boston to the Bay Area, Randi Shafton is a political advocate and non-profit professional with over two decades of experience championing issues and initiatives that have a deep impact on the health, well-being and happiness of women and girls. After graduating from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Randi spent the first part of her career working on public policy issues in Sacramento, CA and Washington, DC, where she focused on health-care, environmental and educational issues.

Randi also worked extensively on AIDS-related policy and legislation, advocating for patient's rights and a more humane response to what was in the eighties a "new" health care crisis.

Her work on these and other social justice issues served as a reminder that the unique and too-often unmet needs of women and girls must be considered as we develop broad-based public policy solutions. In the private sector, Randi worked as a lobbyist and community relations manager, with a special focus on addressing the needs of at risk families and youth.

Her greatest passion, however, is raising her twin girls, Ellie and Zoey, and her four year old son Jake. "I want my daughters and all young girls to learn about bold and accomplished women. I want my son to grow up admiring such women - and yes, learning from and emulating them."

About Girl360

A new, interactive website is taking a fresh approach to inspiring, guiding and building up today's pre-teen and teen girls. Let's face it - it's not easy being a young girl today!

From various media and societal sources, girls are receiving negative messages that influence how they see themselves and whether they achieve their full potential. On top of this, throw peer pressure and normal body/physical changes into the mix, and the ages between 9 and 15 become a particularly confusing and challenging time in a girl's life.

Girl360.net is a unique webzine and empowerment project designed to connect with girls during their formative years, giving them a better sense of the women who have come before them, the unique role models all around them and, most importantly, the potential within them.

The site's content is grounded in a simple belief: that discovering a single, sometimes surprising, female role model can change a young girl's life.

Girl360.net seeks to make those encounters possible by bringing the stories of history's and today's most inspiring and trailblazing women and girls to the attention of a new generation of tweens. Divided up into several interesting sections, such as "Girl of the Month," "That's What Friends Are For: True Tales of BFF's," and the "Girl Power Book Club,"

Girl360.net is a great resource for parents and educators, too. It's designed in such a way to spark conversation and positive communication between peers and mothers and daughters.

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