A recent study by Brigham Young University created quite some buzz when it announced that “Means Girls” start in preschool. Though I certainly found the study to be interesting, it was not anything I had not already discovered to be true in my own experiences with my children.
The study found that girls as young as four use aggressive social behavior to maintain dominance amongst their friends. The study found that girls in preschool were already demonstrating the kind of traits normally associated with older girls. These preschool age “mean girls” in the study were demonstrating a number of socially aggressive tactics when dealing with peers. Such as:
- Not allowing a specific child to play with the group.
- Demanding other children not play with a specific child.
- Threatening to not play with a child unless certain needs/demands are met.
- Refusing to listen to someone they are mad at (the aggressive children may even cover their ears).
- Even spreading malicious rumors & telling secrets.
Now my daughter was in a tiny tots program last year and will begin official Pre-K this year and I certainly found the things mentioned in the study to be true among the girls in my daughter’s class. I found it to be fascinating that in the first few weeks of class there was instantly a clan of “Queen Bees” in the class that dominated much of the play and conversations. My daughter’s reaction was even more fascinating. While I could see that the popular girls accepted her, she could easily take them or leave them. Sometimes I would watch her right in the middle of play with the popular girls and other times I’d see her playing by herself as happy as can be. When I’d ask her why she was by herself she’d simply reply “The other girls talk too much.”
I think for me, my biggest fear is not my daughter falling victim of the mean girls as she gets older, but that she’ll become one. And this is why I’ve already opened up dialogue, using the term “mean girls” with my daughter. There is a great book, Purplicious by Elizabeth & Victoria Kann.
Purplicious was a great way to open up dialogue between my young daughter and I about teasing between girls. I know that as a girl how my daughter views and values herself is extremely important. The self-worth I embed in her today will have huge impact on how she carries herself through her entire life. But what this study shows is that we should also be thinking seriously not just about how our girls view themselves but how those girls view and value each other.
This post is a cross-post from MomConnect-The Blog!