October is National Bullying Prevention month, and in honor of the occasion, we decided to ask author and public speaker Annie Downs about a certain type of bully teens and tweens encounter everywhere: the mean girl. Everyone knows one, but how do you prevent your daughter from becoming one? Here are the five things she says your child should remember in order to avoid the mean-girl mentality:
The mean girl never wins in the end
It may look like she has won when you see her gloating at a football game or writing biting comments on Instagram, but the truth is that the mean girl is hurting. If she keeps up this behavior, she will continue to hurt long after you know her name or care what she thinks of you.
Forget the “pile” mentality
There is not a pile, and you don’t need to get to the top of it. In school, there is a sense of social hierarchy, but ignore it. It’s not real life. The most popular girl at your school? She’ll go to college and be a freshman and no one will know her. The pile is an illusion.
Like what you like
It’s hard to be the mean girl when you are having a great time. If you are hanging with people you like (in real life or online) and participating in activities you like, whether they are labeled “cool” or not; you don’t have time or energy to be mean. Like the things you like, like the people you like, and be glad to be you.
Use your words well
You have so much power with your words. Don’t quit using them, don’t walk away from the internet or your friends. Recognize that you can change someone’s whole day with just a kind word.
It isn’t easy swimming upstream, going against culture and deciding to stand up when others back away. Be brave with your words, be brave with your friendships. Don’t be the girl who has to be at the top of the pile. Be the girl who is wise enough to recognize the pile doesn’t exist and brave enough to build something new there.
For more from Annie Downs, check out her book "Speak Love."