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Girls Playing Games, and I Don't Mean Monopoly

Many kids want to be in the “in” group at school, and I mean “in” by being socially accepted by peers and not being excluded. There’s nothing more devastating than not having anyone to sit with at lunchtime, or not receiving the invites to parties or events. Unfortunately, in the eyes of many children and teens, the popular cliques rule. Girls and boys alike, they want to fit in and be socially accepted. Nowadays, I’m seeing girls who are considered “popular”, but yet they mostly only offer a regimen of put downs or insults to those around them. Miss Popularity or the Queen Bee of most groups usually puts herself on a pedestal, while she’s busy knocking other kids and pointing out their weaknesses. The games that girls in this generation play have definitely gotten worse. Girls have become sneakier and more manipulative. They can roll the dice and get away with more because of one major thing… social media. Cyber world is just a new plane on which they can harm others, or themselves for that matter.

For decades, nothing has changed. Girls gossip, spread rumors, make alliances to go against others, purposely exclude or just plain out target whoever they feel. Sadly, the meanness in girls has become so prevalent and more often than not, starting at an earlier age. This is happening because they simply can get away with a lot of it ONLINE. Sending mean messages, emails or group chats have become the way to carry on conversations. It’s much easier to hide those conversations and messages from parents. I can’t tell you how often I hear parents saying “oh yah, I know my kid isn’t like that.” Or, “my daughter doesn’t get mixed up in drama.” Little do they know, their child is THE one creating the drama and stirring the pot! Sometimes, all it takes is one girl in a bunch. She rules the roost in the group of girls. She’s the one making all the plans and deciding who’s in and who’s out.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that parents have blinders on, or that they simply just do not communicate with their kids, or perhaps they’re just okay with it. Whether they’re a working parent or not, there is no excuse for not knowing who your child is, or what he/she is doing. No one I know professes that raising children is an easy task, and it’s painful to hear when they’re going through certain challenges. However, how is it that it’s always the same parents in denial about their children? They might be the star student at school receiving awards, or they might be the incredible athlete who everyone wants on their team. But, in terms of being a loyal, trustworthy friend, they fail with flying colors in that category.

The girls who play games are usually the manipulative ones. These are the same girls who use certain tactics to get what they want or to avoid what they don’t want. It’s like they instinctively know how NOT to get caught or blamed. Like they have a built in sensor that detects who is on their radar, and they continually get away with certain behavior. So many parents tell me, “I don’t want my daughter to think I’m spying on her if I check her cell phone.” Or, “I want her to be happy. I don’t want to make her upset with me.”

Mistake #1. Let your child just be and let them be independent.

It’s not about laying off your child and allowing her to be independent. They have plenty of room for independence. The question is, who is she when she’s not with you? Do you really know her character in the presence of others? Does she treat friends, teachers and others with respect and kindness? Is she supportive or critical of friends? Does she include or purposely exclude? Is she afraid to admit fault? Taking ownership is key. My favorite phrase of all…”I didn’t do it.”

I certainly don’t profess to know everything when it comes to raising kids. In fact, I love speaking with friends whose parenting is alike and who share similar values. I do, however, know one thing for sure…parents raising girls need to watch for the downslide in their own daughters. As our girls enter their teen years, it’s even more important than ever TO BE INVOLVED while they’re on the track of becoming independent young adults. Don’t think for one second that your daughter “isn’t there yet.” She’s there and she’s curious. About boys, about feelings, about friends, and about what you yourself were curious about when you were her same age. There are plenty of signs to watch for if you PAY ATTENTION. Better to find out yourself then from someone else that your daughter is participating in certain behavior. All I can say is, keep the online activities on your radar. It’s happening faster than you can imagine.

As far as socially, navigating the vicious social jungle will always be challenging. More so for girls because of their hidden aggression and the way they psychologically communicate. It's the mind games that girls play. I remember sitting and talking with a group of 8th grade girls about social bullying when I was leading an in-class workshop at a private school. One of the girls in the group said “girls are secretive and manipulative. They can turn on you and back stab you in a second.” I think what hit me the most about that class session with these girls that day was that they seemed so matter of fact about it- as if this is the norm and the way that girls just are.

I don’t believe it for one second. Girls are who they are because they’re not being held accountable. Whether it’s their home life, their parents not checking in with them, parents being lackadaisical, or perhaps something that’s hurting them deep down, depression or some other factor in their life that is not being addressed. Girls just don’t wake up and decide to be mean. The game of meanness is just not popular. In fact, it’s crippling to the ones who suffer from being targeted. So really, those girls your daughter comes home and tells you about that’s the “in group” at school is not one to be desired or jealous of. Rather, it may just be the group to stay clear of. Let’s teach our girls the new way of winning the social game. Let her stay true to who she is. She may not win the popularity vote, but she will definitely win feeling confident and secure, even if it’s just knowing that one BFF who saves her a seat at lunchtime.

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