Don’t engage with bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter’s in middle school now, and the same girls who bullied herin elementary school are there, along with new girls.

The bullies are also in her dance classes and have continued their bullying by text messages. She wants to be liked and included with these girls,but she’s worried the new girls will join the bullies.

Her dance teacher told her to love these bullies into being her friends. I think that’s a bad idea, and I told her dance and school teachers so. She got upset and embarrassed.

The rest of our family agrees she should ignore the bullies. Short of moving to a new city, I don’t know what else to do.

Signed,

Desperate Mom

Dear Mom,

Tell your daughter it’s your job to get involved, regardless of embarrassment.

According to a recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics, cyberbullying amongst girls is on the rise:

  • 21 percent of girls between 12 and 18were bullied on social media in 2016 and 2017.  Boys were atseven percent.
  • In 2014 and 2015, the report for girls was at 16 percent.
  • The most popular form of cyberbullying by girls is rejection or ostracizing other girls.

Unfortunately, many girls do report a desperate need to be included with their bullies and they feel damaged if they are rejected. Sometimes the reason for exclusion is very minor, such as a different hairstyle. Oftentimes,it’s just because she’s vulnerable and showing desperation.

Encourage her to be assertive and to not engage with her bullies, by approaching them and saying, “Stop bullying me,” and walking away, never paying attention to them again. Studies show more bullying happens when the girl keeps displaying anxious attempts to befriend them.

Parents may try using our 5Cs:

  1. Civility – Teach her to be caring, considerate, and have courtesy to all, and create genuine and healthy relationships with like-minded girls. Teach her to initiate conversations with new friends by using open-ended questions, like: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
  2. Confidence – Teach her to walk tall with her head up.
  3. Courage – Teach her to not talk about the bullies (which will take away their power) and to just bury that conversation.
  4. Creativity – Help her find another dance studio or different talent, such as gymnastics or sports.
  5. Communicate – Encourage her with uplifting comments. Suggest waiting a year to use a smartphone. It’s a huge responsibility.

Help your daughter to choose not to stay a victim, and understand that it isn’t her fault she became a victim. If she’s not fixated on dead-end relationships, she’ll find true joy.

Signed,

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri