Dear Bulldog, My daughter is a senior in high school this year. Her closest friend, this past spring decided to ignore my daughter in order to make alliances with other friends in school. She then started spreading vicious rumors about my daughter. My daughter has tried multiple times to meet with her and perhaps heal their friendship but it is clear that she does not want to spend time with my daughter anymore. My daughter has then tried to make friends outside of their circle, but it is clear that they are all listening to her friend's rumors and excluding my daughter. I am not sure what to do about all of this. She feels lonely and boxed in. It is clear that this a form of indirect bullying and my daughter now even has a lot of anxiety and fears about seeing any of her classmates including her old friend on the daily basis. Is there any advice can safely give? Or should I go to the school counselor ? Thanks, Miss M.
Dear Miss M.,
I am so sorry this is happening to your daughter. These situations are so difficult due to the viscous cycle of indirect bullying, which can be referred to as mean girls. It hurts more when people start to believe the mean girls and further exclude your daughter. Off the top of my head, I would recommend that you work on rebuilding her self-esteem. Can you get her in activities after school, so she can meet new friends that are not in any way shape or form related to the mean girls’ circle? I would also focus on your daughter’s strengths and build up her resilience. To do so, it is about working on positive affirmations, building her courage, and getting her to not care about what the mean girl thinks.
- Talk about real friendships and how people might choose popularity over friends. When doing so, they are typically hurting themselves and have low self-esteem. Explain to her that if someone turns on you so quickly, it is not good to have these type of friends in your circle.
- Go over what she wants in a friendship and compare her wants and needs to her past relationship with the mean girl. Letting her make the connections about how the mean girl was really never a good friend. Once, she can overcome the pain of losing a friend and make a few new friends it help with the healing process.
- I would share your story and tell her what advice you would give your younger self. Have you ever experienced mean girls or mommy shaming? Share with your daughter what you went through and how you overcame the situation. Talk about how you might have been ashamed, confused, hurt, and lonely. Talk about what you learned from that experience. Be honest and open. Showing her that she’s not alone is powerful.
- I would have her mentor or volunteer after school to keep her engaged and open her mind to new experiences. Get her busy, off her phone, and meeting new people. If she mentors or volunteers, it will give her a sense of purpose. She will feel valued and see the impact she has on people’s lives.
- I would also share with her that this will pass, it totally sucks, but it will pass. I often say the opposite of love is indifference. Once she really does not care, it won’t make a difference what they do, she will rise above it.
- I would also ask if the rumors and drama have gone online. When it goes online it can really impact a teen and then we have a whole different set of tools to go over.
We are here for you. You are doing the best you can and you are not alone!
Sending you love and positive vibes as your daughter goes back to school,