Annie’s 10 Tips to Help Kids Survive
Mean Girls or Guys

by Annie Fox, M.Ed

Note to Parents: We’ve all been to school. Chances are we’ve had our own run-ins with a kid who seemed determined to make our life miserable. If your son or daughter is currently dealing with one (or more) of these kids, here are some positive messages you can offer. These aren’t magic bullets. But if you a) empathize with what your child is going through, b) make sure he knows he doesn’t deserve bad treatment from anyone, and c) become your child’s #1 advocate, then you will help the situation.

  1. This is NOT your fault. You haven’t done anything that deserves this kind of meanness.
  2. You are not alone. Unfortunately lots of kids have to deal with this every day.
  3. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to me. Tell me what’s going on. I can help. Together we can let the school know what’s happening and make sure they put a stop to it. If you absolutely can’t/won’t talk to me about it, you have to talk to a trusted adult at school. (Note: Targeted kids may resist all help. They may believe that bringing attention to the problem will make things worse for them. You have to assure them that while there may be some temporary social consequences for speaking up, by staying silent there is little chance that the situation will improve on its own.)
  4. Find at least one friend you can trust. It’s easier to put up with mean kids with someone on your side.
  5. Do NOT try to retaliate. Even though you’re hurt and frustrated and angry enough to explode, do NOT try to get back at the mean kids. Meanness only turns into more meanness. That’s how wars escalate. Seriously! Instead of “getting even” speak up for yourself by telling an adult who has some power to make things better.
  6. This isn’t about you. Happy, self-confident kids do NOT target others just for the fun of it. Mean kids often have problems. And major insecurities. They pick on other kids to make themselves feel more powerful. If their lives really were all that “prefect” they wouldn’t get pleasure out of making others miserable.
  7. You can’t control what they do, what they say, what they think. Don’t even bother. You can’t control the choices others make. You only get to control your own choices.
  8. Choose not to let them get to you. Mean kids say mean things. Words are the weapons they use. Their words can hurt, but they are just words. When you start believing the rubbish they say about you, then you are using their weapons against yourself. Don’t go there!
  9. Get involved in activities outside of school. Follow your interests and your self-esteem will soar.
  10. Real friends are trustworthy, respectful, supportive, loyal. Be the kind of friend you want to have and real friends will find you.
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