A Middle School Mean Girl’s Worst Enemy
Confidence is their Kryptonite!
What is it about middle school that brings out the beast in some girls? The whispers, cattiness, and bullying can turn the teen years into a sea full of tears. The destructive behavior of mean girls can even make a self-confident women in her late 30’s flinch.
Middle school is all about fitting in and finding your place in the world. Mean girls stem from harnessing insecurities of their own by trying to look cool in front of their so called friends. It’s no wonder many adults have body issues dating back to their tween years. It comes from a snide remark heard in the halls that may or may not have been meant for us. Either way, it stings and we take it as a personal attack.
Looking Out For Others
As someone who no longer cares what others think, especially 12 year old girls, this aggression still hits a sour note with me as I think of my own daughter’s future.
I was helping my kids get settled for swim team this morning, as I walked by a small group of middle school kids. They all stared at me as I passed by blatantly pausing their conversation. Side note: I’m really good at stink eye. After I was out of ears reach, I heard them giggling and talking about that lady who just walked by. Classic middle school move.
The actual jab they threw at me doesn’t bother me at all, cause c’mon they are 12 and are “way too cool” for me anyways. But my daughter is coming into this age and I hope I’ve done enough to secure her in knowing who she is. My hope is that she doesn’t talk about people the way I’ve heard other kids talk. And if she does get caught in the crossfires, then will she be bold enough to stand up for others?
Think Before You Speak
As adults we learn to filter our thoughts even if we are secretly judging someone for their appearance. We tend to keep it to ourselves and not outwardly gossip about it with our friends. For many middle school kids, that camaraderie is their whole existence. It’s part of their development in making friends and figuring out their place in life.
They are at an age where they are always right and everyone else, especially parents, are wrong. This is a time where they speak honestly but it doesn’t always come out in the nicest way. The filter adults have is non-existent in tweens. In fact, it comes out cruel and hurtful to the person because they typically speak before they think.
This behavior is unlike a child who speaks unfiltered but not in a degrading manner. For a child, they are being observant about the world around them. Kids are pointing out the obvious like the size of a man’s nose, the aging woman beside you in the check out line or the balding man who clearly is not embracing his lack of hair line. With middle school kids they take it to an emotional place by pointing out other’s insecurities. This is where it become hurtful, digging deep into your psyche.
Embrace Your Uniqueness
When I was in middle school, I was overweight but seriously attest it to baby fat. By the time I entered 8th grade, the extra weight was gone, as were the gigantic tortoise shell glasses and braces. I was coming out of the awkward phase. While I never heard anyone talk bad about me, I overheard conversations discussing others’ flaws. Hearing this from the outside can affect self-esteem indirectly forcing you to take a good look at yourself.
Hearing insults makes you take stock at your life. During these years, fitting in is solely focused on outward appearance because so many changes are happening to our bodies all at once. It could be a number of things that set you apart from your peers:
- Dress differently
- Face full of zits
- Bad haircut
- Big boobs, small boobs
- Too much makeup, not enough makeup
- The wrong shoes, etc
This is why it takes adults years to finally come into their own, learning how to stop caring about what others think. They spend much of their adolescence trying to impress their peers by blending into the crowd to be less of a target.
Stand In Your Truth
What I want my daughter to know is that at some point, something hurtful might be said about her or a friend. The way to respond is by realizing this comment is not a direct reflection on how she thinks about herself. Kids her age point out the difference in others in order to fit in. Yes, it can be degrading in the moment, but in the long run, this is why we lean on people who truly care for you.
The only thing that matters is what you think of yourself and how you can continue speaking to yourself kindly. Bullies and mean girls are where self esteem issues and eating disorders are formed. These people are not your friends. What you see in front of you is a scared, insecure little girl who intentionally makes someone else feel bad so they can look good.
Middle school is a time to come into your own, by standing up for yourself in a confident manner. You might find that you are different than others but as long as you are sure of who you are, the less mean girls see you as a target. They want someone who will break under the pressure of their remarks. If anything, what I want my daughter to know that there may be times when people talk about her, but my aim is to teach her not to take it personally. This means that she needs to see me stand in my own truth as well.
Put your oxygen mask on first. Self care is essential for all parents to make it through the day.
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