“Mean girls are preying on my daughter.”
Dear Annie,My 9 year-old daughter is the odd-one-out in her class. This "mean girl" has been saying hurtful mean things to my daughter and has shunned her on many occasions. The other girls in the class are beginning to do the same thing. I'm concerned about my daughter. Should I contact the school and can you suggest any reading materials to help both myself and the school in this matter? Thank you in advance for any help you can give.
I would love to come to one of your Friendship Workshops, unfortunately we are on the opposite side of the country.
Dear Mama Lion,
I'm really glad you wrote. I'm concerned about your daughter too. There's absolutely no excuse for "mean girls" to act the way they do. There's also no justification for the adults who live and work with kids to allow it to happen. Treating other people with respect needs to be taught and reinforced, especially when it comes to girls and their friendships.
So my answer is "yes", I think you should contact the school ASAP and talk to the principal. And since you know the name of the girl, I would suggest to the principal to arrange a meeting between you, your daughter, the other girl, and her parents. Like I tell kids in my Friendship Workshop, you don't have to be friends with everybody but it's never ok to be intentionally rude or cruel or insensitive. The classroom behavior you describe has to stop, and it's your responsibility to be an unrelenting advocate for your daughter and her well-being. If the school does not take this shunning and harassment seriously, go to the district office.
I also feel that it's important for you to help your daughter understand that she deserves real friends. That means friends who will treat her with respect, be trustworthy, and loyal. Tell your daughter that you're confident she knows how to be a real friend, and help her start looking in other places (outside of class) to find real friends.
For other resources, check out my recent article, "Real Friends vs. the Other Kind."
I'd also highly recommend your reading Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons. I'm sure the principal and the faculty could benefit from reading it as well. I hope this gives you the support you need to do the right thing for your daughter.