One of the saddest and most difficult lessons we are learning at the local public school is the way that the other children treat one another. In Gabrielle’s class, which is 2nd grade, the girls are already catty in a way that surprised me for eight year olds. I know that girls can be vicious, but I thought that it started later than 2nd grade.
A common activity at lunch is for the girls to play Telephone. Remember Telephone? Where one person whispers a sentence to her neighbor and the sentence is passed around the table. The last person says it aloud and everyone giggles at the way the words have changed while traveling through the group. Well, this version of Telephone is very different. The statements being passed around are mean, cruel insults about others at the lunch table. “Devonte is dumb and stupid.” “Allie is a crybaby.” “Shaniqua is ugly and has weird shoes.”
Seriously. This is what the mean girls do at lunch.
My daughter, who tends to be kindhearted and a peacemaker, refuses to pass it on. So, they skip her and lean around her to keep the game going.
Another example of this kind of verbal bullying happened one day when the teacher stepped out of the room. As soon as she left, some of the girls started a ‘game’ where they named a student aloud and everyone in the class raised their hands if they were friends with the named student. This quickly identified the less popular kids. When one particular girl was named, Gabrielle was the only person who raised her hand and the other girls actually BOOED this child for having no friends. Talk about a quick way to destroy the already fragile self-esteem in these girls!
How do you explain to your 8 year old *why* other girls behave this way?! We have had many discussions about how wrong it is and what she can do about it. I bought her a book called Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends, and she and I are reading through it together talking about ways to implement the ideas for diffusing bullying situations and helping the ones who are picked on to feel better. She drew a picture and made a card for one girl who is repeatedly targeted by the mean girls.
I am very proud of Gabrielle and the way she identifies this as horrible behavior on her own. It isn’t easy to be the child who won’t join in when other classmates are all banding together, but she is holding out.
Is it any wonder that our kids struggle with depression at earlier and earlier ages?