6 Things Every Tween Needs to Know About Mean Girls & Cyberbullying

Apr 23, 2017

I never told my daughters the world was perfect.

In fact, I told them the exact opposite: while it’s a beautiful place, it’s very complex and full of people who are simply trying to figure their existence out--for better or worse.

So, when they each began experiencing bullying in school--especially from girls their age--we took a realistic approach to what was happening and reminded them that while we are their proud and relentless advocates, the most powerful forces of defense that they possess are their voice and critical thinking skills. (Neither has really had the opportunity to experience cyberbullying due to the fact that they don’t have social media accounts yet.) The forces of defense have led to the girls witnessing tangible outcomes of change in their life--such as successful mediation sessions, apologies, and if needed, the bully being sent home for failure to comply--as a result of them standing up and speaking out.

There are 6 things that I think every tween (girls especially) needs to know about mean girls, cyberbullying and bullying in general.

Hopefully, it helps you navigate the choppy waters of friendships (gone awry), self-esteem, and the maturation from girl to young woman.

  1. It may be hard to believe, but they’re human too. Which means they have insecurities and a yearning to be accepted as well. Differing personalities and upbringings cause people to express the same needs and desires in different ways.

  2. They likely became what they feared. Chances are a mean girl was once nice and a bully was once bullied. Think of the old adage eat or be eaten. They likely adopted this mentality and feel it’s the only way to survive and look as though they’re okay. Trust me, they’re not.

  3. Neither is meanness nor bullying okay. Points one and two do not justify these behaviors and actions. Wrong is wrong.

  4. They’ve chosen who they want to be, not who you’re going to be. So, if wrong is wrong, you do what’s right. We make decisions each and every day about who we want to be and who we are becoming. They may have become what they feared, but you don’t have to. You can choose differently, and you can do better for yourself and others. It will take courage. It will take bravery. Above all else, it will prepare you for life. (There are adult mean girls and bullies, and they can be 10 times worse than those in school. You’re simply being prepared to navigate the landscape and find your place in all of this.)

  5. You have a right to own your voice and your social media space. Be proud of who you are and know that you have every right to be exactly who you want to be, how you want to be. If they don’t understand it: that’s not your problem, it’s theirs. Own your voice by keeping adults who care about you in the loop of what’s going on, requesting a mediation session if needed, taking full advantage of the blocking and flagging options on social media, and verbally standing up for yourself when needed. Also check out parental control software for social media to keep your kids extra safe.

  6. Use their meanness for kindness. Find ways to either become an advocate or create/join a friends/support group for others who are experiencing the same challenges as you. There is strength in numbers and opportunities in adversity. You are not alone and a great life lies ahead of you. Remember: with every mountain of adversity climbed, you only rise higher and the view only gets better.