Q: I realized going to the middle school was going to be different for my daughter, but I am unprepared to deal with the “drama” that seems to be dominating the conversation at home.
Do you have any suggestions how to impress upon her that these issues are not world-ending?
— Michele, of Norman
If we knew how to put a stop to “mean girls” or school drama in general, we’d be millionaires lying on a beach all day.
We have some tips that will work, provided they are practiced and utilized. Middle school seems to be the peak time for drama, since kids haven’t had the freedom before to explore interests and make friends with similar interests.
Your daughter needs to know there will always be people in her life she doesn’t care for, but she doesn’t need to be rude or even hang out with them.
Here are our tips:
· Explain rumors. Help her understand that unless she actually saw something happen, it is nothing but a rumor. These are to be ignored, forgotten and never repeated.
· Stay away from anyone who makes fun of others. They are trying to gain attention by going for the cheap laugh. If she hangs out with them, she will have the reputation of being like them, due to guilt by association.
· Don’t get in the middle of a “friend” argument. Let them work it out, but if they need mediation, encourage them to talk with a trusted school adult. (This is similar to parents who are going through a divorce and put their own children in the middle of their disputes — it’s not a fun place to be for kids.)
· Impress upon your daughter the importance of keeping private information private. She may think she can trust her dear friend, but once it’s out there, it spreads quickly and could be used against her by those she thought were her friends.
· Always be nice. She doesn’t have to be a door mat, but no one dislikes a nice person.
· If the drama is hurtful and disturbing, take a good look at the “friends.” It may be time to make new ones.
These steps are not always easy to follow. Your job as a parent is to reassure your daughter that she is capable of being a strong and positive influence, and she is in control of her feelings and actions.
Standing up for oneself is never a bad thing to do, but it needs to be done with tact. What this means is not looking like one of “them” by using hurtful words, anger or physical violence.
This is a perfect opportunity for you to begin teaching her to become her own best advocate, which will serve her well for the rest of her life.
Please send questions to email@example.com. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.