Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mean Girls - What They Are and How to Cope

While aggression in teen boys tends to be physical, aggression in teen girls is often expressed in relationships. While adolescent boys use their physical strength as a weapon, adolescent girls use their relationships with their friends as weapons.

Relational aggression can include any and all of the following:
-Gossip - personal information about the victim is shared without her consent.
-Isolation - where a victim is somehow prevented from socializing with her friends.
-Spreading rumors about the victim

Relational aggression is not only hurtful when it is happening, it can also have long-term consequences for the victim of "mean girls'" behavior.

Studies have found that long-term consequences of relational abuse include, but are not limited to: depression, suicide, low self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety, and adjustment problems.

Parents should keep an open communication with their teens about relational abuse.

Some of the signs that your teen may be suffering from "mean girl" behavior include (but certainly are not limited to):
-A sudden disinterest in spending time with friends she once spent time with.
-Avoiding talking about friends she used to talk about openly.
-Isolating herself.
-Drop in self-esteem.
-Skipping school.
-Poor academic performance.

If you think your teen may be experiencing relational abuse, please talk to her about what she is experiencing. It is also wise to alert school officials to the problem and who is involved in victimizing your daughter. School officials are more aware and responsive to this behavior than they were a decade ago.

In order to avoid long-term damage to your daughter's self-esteem, please take her to a counselor or have her see the school counselor. Remind her that she is worthy and beautiful just the way she is.

Please do not ignore relational aggression. Seek help if you think your daughter (or son) is being victimized by her (or his) peers.

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