My twelve-year-old daughter is coming home from school in tears. She was ‘dropped’ by her best friend, who seems to delight in belittling her in and out of class. She does have other friends, but is very upset by the whole business. I have mentioned the problem to her teacher, who says she will keep an eye on it in school. But how can I help my daughter to deal with the bullying and boost her dwindling self-confidence?
Reassure her it isn’t because of anything she has or hasn’t done. Girls friendships do tend to be tempestuous and in and out. Sometimes it’s simply a case of them trying out control and testing the bounds of friendship.
But it may be because her friend is coming under pressure from somewhere and is “passing on” feelings of being out of control or set aside. Explain it’s a bit like kicking the cat or slamming doors when you’re feeling bad – she may be taking the place of the cat and the door for the other girl who has the problem.
Brainstorm with her reasons why her friend may be behaving in this way all of a sudden. If your daughter can understand it’s neither her fault nor even personal, and you can keep telling her she’s terrific, she should be able to switch from feeling got at and on the defensive, to sympathetic and self confident.
School can help, not by singling out either girl but by examining and tackling the roots of bullying and making it the whole subject (not the individual situation) a classroom project – ask about their bullying policy and how they put it into practice.