Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nice Girls WILL Finish First!

Over the course of the last few days, I’ve had the same conversation with parents regarding this mean girl epidemic that, evidently, isn’t going away anytime soon. One parent expressed his concerns, asking if he should encourage his daughter to blaze a mean girl path for herself because, ‘she’s just not making as many strides academically or socially as the girls who are more aggressive.’ One mom told me she’s all but given up, and has expressed to her daughter the old ‘if you can’t beat them, join’ them cliché.

Quite disheartened, I pondered this for a good long while. It seems as if our society is constantly inundated with reports and examples of bad behavior that are not only rewarded, but encouraged. All is not lost, though, I’m sure of it – as long as we adults continue to fight for what’s right and shield our children (and ourselves) from those negative, mean forces out there.

Set the Example
When you sneak into that coveted parking space at the mall (the one that the driver of the Camry had been waiting patiently for, complete with flashing blinker), you’re sending the message to your child that cutting in front of someone is a perfectly acceptable act. When you mention that the clerk behind the counter gave you too much change – change that you kept – you’re telling your child that it’s okay to essentially steal (which is what you’re doing when you don’t return the money). We must show our children that we are aware, compassionate, and concerned with being good citizens. Anything less than this could very well plant a few mean girl seeds.

Keep Them Busy (But Not Too Busy)
As one mom and I planned for her daughter’s summer consultations with me, I grew shocked as I discovered that the giant, color-coded calendar on the kitchen wall belonged solely to the girl (who is twelve-years-old). Mom has registered Daughter in every camp, club, and private tutorial session available in our community. ‘What about down time?’ I inquired. ‘Oh, we don’t believe in down time. It’s best if she’s busy. She’ll stay out of trouble that way.’ I politely disagreed, for I’ve seen too many overscheduled students in my fifteen years of education to know that when a child has too much on her plate, she grows weary, frustrated, and tends to rebel a bit more than her less active counterparts. Down-time is good; please trust me on this.

Limit the Media
Unfortunately, we live in a dumbed-downed era in which just about anything passes for entertainment. Many shows geared toward teens and pre-teens are highly sexualized, and often celebrate mean girl behavior. A good portion of the music aimed toward the same audience is guilty of this, too. I encourage you to know what your child is watching, listening to, and reading.

Get Involved
As a parent, it’s okay to make a nuisance of yourself: know who your child spends time with, get to know her friends’ parents. If you don’t feel comfortable about someone within her circle of friends, tell her so. Limit her time with them. You are the parent – you’re not her best friend – so take charge. Ask questions. Speak to her – not at her. Remain calm, knowing that any tantrums she throws willpass.

Nice Girls Do Win Out…In the End
It’s important to express to your daughter that good behavior will always be rewarded in some fashion. Karma is a very real thing, I believe. We must teach our children patience while practicing it ourselves. We must always take the high road in all that we do and say, and encourage our children to do the same. We must realize that a little lazy time is good for the soul. We must band together, do what’s right, teach what’s right, and remain vigilant in our fight against the mean girl syndrome.

If you've enjoyed today's musing, I encourage you to contribute to the Elegant Fund. Proceeds benefit Girls, Inc., an organization that encourages girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Details at Together, we can make a difference!

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach/Author
Newman Image
'Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!'

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