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Mean Girls On The Playground

By Sierra Black |

2181559194_c772afa507_mMean girls. Those pretty, popular, cool girls who use their social power to hurt those less blessed by social fortune.

The specter of a popular, predatory prom queen taking down the class nerd with a cutting remark or vicious prank is the stuff of legend, many popular movies, and sometimes a sad fact of real life.

That kind of cruelty isn’t just for prom anymore. An article in the Boston Globe explores how girls are practicing “mean girl” tactics on the playground.

Girls are forming popular cliques and cutting other kids with mean comments, pranks and exclusion from play as early as preschool.

Experts debate whether or not preschoolers bullying each other and forming popular cliques is really new. But parents know it’s a real trend, and a real problem.

I have two daughters who are five and two.

My five-year-old sometimes comes home from school talking about girls who won’t let her sit with them at lunch, or who shut her out of their playground games. Since my kid is made of awesome, it’s clearly those other girls who are losing out, but that’s small comfort when you’re playing alone in the sandbox.

The two-year-old is another story. She began her day today by shouting at a friend, “I don’t like you. You can’t come in!” and slamming a door in his face when he tried to join a game she was playing with another girl.

It’s kind of funny to hear her barely formed, cooing baby voice saying such mean things. But it’s not funny to her little friend. And it’s not a one-off incident. The kids in her playgroup have been forming shifting cliques for months, with two or three banding together and making up elaborate games to exclude one of the other children. Sometimes it looks like the goal is to make the shunned child cry.

I was a nerdy, unpopular kid myself, so it fills me with a special horror to see my toddler playing the part of the popular diva.

It’s easy enough to correct her at this stage. I can open the slammed door, distract them all with a story or a craft and break out my well-traveled copy of You Can’t Say You Can’t Play.

Which apparently is what I need to be doing. The Boston Globe article cites several recent incidents of middle school girls committing suicide over taunting and bullying from popular cliques at their schools. Massachusetts is working on legislation to address bullying in schools, but critics say it doesn’t go far enough.

What do you think? Can names be as bad as sticks and stones? Has your child been bullied in preschool? Have you caught her practicing her mean girl moves on the playground?

What have you done about it? And what should the schools be doing? Whose fault is this problem anyway?

Photo: Pink Sherbert Photography

More by Sierra Black:

What Did Kids Do Before Therapy?

Hand Sanitizers Don’t Stop Spread of Sickness

Working Parents Exhausted

Sleep Training Success Depends on Parents’ Attitudes

Museum Says Member Cards Not Safe For Kids

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About Sierra Black


Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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51 thoughts on “Mean Girls On The Playground

  1. alison says:

    Distracting the kids and making the day go smoothly is all well and good, but are you explaining to your younger daughter that her behavior is unacceptable (pointing out that if she keeps saying evil things to people, she may find that no one likes her or wants to play with her)? Are you expressing outrage at the behavior you are witnessing in her playgroup, bad behavior she is bringing home with her? Are you talking to the other parents about how unacceptable the behavior is and letting them know you are telling your daughter that it is wrong (and saying it in the “and I know you are doing this too” tone of voice or even the “what techniques do you do to quell this sort of thing?” attitude)? Obviously, it is terribly reductive to say that children who are bullies learn the bullying at home (though there are links between abusive households and bullying in children), but unless you are actively telling your kids not to behave that way and not to put up with that behavior in others, you risk your children modelling the behavior of their peers and thinking it is ok. As for your older daughter, what is her school doing to stop the antics of the mean girls? Have you told your daughter that she will never win with mean girls and the only way they have any power over her is if she choose to give it to them, so as hard as it is for her, she has to make friends with other people and let them do their own thing without her (and not be too surprised or excited when they inevitably come to her and try to ensnare her in their web of abuse).

    Sorry to come across so hard core, but a zero tolerance policy is the only way to stop this sort of thing.

  2. Sierra Black says:

    Yes, of course I am. Er…not so much with the outrage, since she’s two, and it’s an age when kids experiment with all sorts of socially unacceptable behaviors. But as I said in the article, I’m actively managing it with her and all the kids in the group. I guess I thought that was so obvious it didn’t really need to be belabored.

  3. GP says:

    Of course names can be as bad as sticks and stones—worse because its harder to “punish” since assault is illegal, but it’s not illegal to be a mean jerk. I think this notion starts very early in our culture and meanness is big in pop culture. My child has not yet been bullied to the extents described here, I think because she goes to a church-based preschool where most of the parents seems very conscientious AND because they are stay at home moms (ie, the kids’ not forced into daycare and have attentive guides during most of their days). However, I do fear for my child as she gets older because I see a tenderness and a lack of aggression in her personality and she seems to prefer and to enjoy to play by herself. Of course, she is not even yet 3 and I have read that kids don’t really play interactively until at least three because they’re not at that developmental stage yet. So, it kind of confuses me to hear about this behavior in 2 year olds. I have 2 hypotheses: 1, they’re modeling or trying out behavior they’ve seen in older siblings, parents or TV and 2, and this is a wild one, I know, that many will bristle at, but maybe they’ve been thrown into too many, too large group situations too soon (all-day daycare at infancy) and their development has been forced too early so they are struggling and feeling frustrated. They then carry this frustration along with them as they get older? I guess it would depend on whether this behavior is historically “new” or not and coincides with the increase in the use of daycare, or whatever…or if there are other factors, like general mom spaciness or lack of attention, etc. that would allow this in such young kids. I would say you must have zero tolerance and nip it. I have been known to speak very VERY sternly to my daughter to get my message across, while I see other moms whine…”Honey, don’t do that…” So, maybe the moms aren’t clamping down enough? Caveman-like behavior sometimes requires a caveman like response. And another child’s feelings are not meant to be the testing ground for your child’s ego…

  4. GP says:

    sorry about all the grammatical errors here…it’s hard to edit when you’re typing into an inch-high field and haven’t had your morning coffee yet

  5. PlumbLucky says:

    (Passing the pot of coffee to GP and promising it isn’t decaf, I’m just not drinking it but stealing the guys’ pot from the kitchen!)

    Option no. 3 (to add to it): the child’s own personality. One of my nephews has never been in large group settings or daycare, and has a SAHM. Nor has his sister. Their mother (my SIL) IS very attentive to them and their needs. My niece is a sweet little girl who plays well with others, especially when you consider she’s only three. My nephew, at not quite two, displays “mean girl” behavior similar to what is described in the posting and always has, from baby-lump stage on. (Baby lump is what we use to describe about the first three months…) So far, no amount of correcting, be it “polite and PC” nor “caveman” has done diddle to fix the issue. My SIL is nearing wits end over it already and we can’t seem to pinpoint WHERE the HE!! this is coming from because we don’t see it in anyone who he has been exposed to.

    Ah – kids and interactive play. Another of my nephews is only six months older than my babe, and neither is, according to any child developmental anything my sister and I have read, old enough to “play” interactively. But you’d be hard pressed to watch those two and agree that they aren’t playing WITH each other. They play games that they both seem to know and agree upon the rules. They pass crayons back and forth. They sit with each and one holds the book and points while the other turns the pages. And god forbid they get near a bathtub together. They throw in all the toys they can find and climb in after them, fully clothed, and attempt to turn on the water (did I mention that they’re fully clothed and diaped?)

  6. GP says:

    thanks for the coffee! your #3 is probably the most likely…and I guess we can just hope that these types can channel this facet of their personalities into something positive as they get older…

  7. GP says:

    and, not to carry on too much about this, because I know people get sensitive about the whole daycare thing, but there *was* some hullaballoo about a study a few years ago that suggested children who experience long hours of child care over the first four years of life are more at risk for showing behavior problems, particularly
    aggression. Not only were these children more likely to engage in assertive, defiant, and even disobedient activities, but they were also more likely to bully, fight with, or act mean to other children. I am not meaning to pass judgement on the moms who have to work to survive or to start an argument. I am just pointing to this study. And when people say, what business is it of MINE if someone else sends their kid to daycare…well, this is what concerns me.

  8. BlackOrchid says:

    It’s interesting cos I haven’t actually noticed that at all GP. The “queen bee” or bullying girls in my daughter’s school – none of them were in day care. They are the wealthiest and most status-conscious of the girls, and their moms are usually total divas. They get the Queen Bee behavior from Mom.

    My daughter didn’t go to day care (we had a part-time nanny cos I work at home and with 2 kids it penciled out cheaper) but most of her best friends did. They are the sweetest girls! Because it seems like in this school at least (private girls school) the ones who have both parents working tend to not be as rich? So they are the nicer girls pretty much as a rule. Right now (1st grade) every girl is hyper-aware of their parents’ status and wealth. The Queen Bee girls have “diva” moms who ONLY would deign to do volunteer work. And they are picking up their mom’s attitudes about everything. Like, my daughter was teased b/c I got her the Bass version of Uggs and not actual Uggs. Really stupid stuff!

    Even in preschool, camps, after-school dance and art – I have never, EVER noticed anything but great behavior from kids who I know went to daycare. Those schools do not kid around, to be honest, at least in my neck of the woods. They teach social skills and don’t put up with any bullying. And they are great schools too.

  9. GP says:

    I hope that’s true…and I’m glad I live in a low key neighborhood with a good amount of ethnic diversity. I’m sure the family with 10 people living in the house down the street don’t buy their hijas UGG boots and I am glad! I would hate to have to deal with that crap!

  10. patricia says:

    I seem to recall that the aggression-in-daycare studies had some component of the quality of daycare being a factor: lower kid-to-teacher ratios, more enrichment activities, higher SES (of course, isn’t it always) correlated with less aggression, or at least didn’t correlate with (as much?) increased aggression. I could be mis-remembering (though it wouldn’t surprise me, it seems like so much of the potentially bad stuff about our parenting choices gets elided or downgraded with $$), and I’m too lazy to do any searching right now, but I thought I’d throw that out there. I imagine that a tendency toward bullying is a mix of all of the ideas thrown out above. How to handle it in my own kids- either from the bullying side or the bullied side- is one of my big worries about parenting. So far, my 3 year old hasn’t been either bully or bullied. She’s a popular and inclusive kid. That’s so different from my own experiences, though, starting from the age of about 11 on. I was a mean girl victim and remember occasionally being a mean girl, which I’m ashamed of now, but I remember that I took those opportunities to fit in with the people who had tortured me so badly. I hope I can instill enough security and self-worth in my kids that they understand how destructive that cycle is for everyone.

  11. JEssica says:

    I think children have an internal instinct to social peg themselves. I read at daily science an article on how the child’s reading is affected by the social status of their elementary school despite their actual income level (and it carries it with them for life). I think it is very natural to bully, I mean GP is bullying without even knowing it “And when people say, what business is it of MINE if someone else sends their kid to daycare…well, this is what concerns me.” It may not directly say if you send your child to daycare, you are a bad parent. But it implies it quite strongly and is a judgemental statement without any true facts to back it up. I mostly think her/his statement is wishful thinking. I don’t send my child to daycare because I think it is too full of germs. I might be paranoid about that, I don’t have any facts to support my idea. I just think kids are germ carriers. And I don’t want my kid around all those other kids for that reason. I am not under any illusion I am a better parent because my child doesn’t attend daycare. Intersting enough, if you look at daily science (almost 100% sure), there is an article that people think worse of the mother and her children if her children attend daycare. Maybe this is why so many women blame daycares (and the parents that send them there) instead of accepting the child’s action as a natural part of the child’s development.

  12. GP says:

    Adults discussing a matter on the internet is not “bullying” and you conveniently ignored the sentence previous to the one you chose to quote where I wrote “I am not meaning to pass judgement on the moms who have to work to survive or to start an argument.” I say, if anything, I am blaming a *system* that has become accepted which ignores the developmental needs of infants and young children, or perhaps blame the economic policies in place or our culture’s value to material gain that creates an environment where both parents need to work to survive rather than blaming the parents. I’m trying to give folks the benefit of the doubt.

  13. jenny tries too hard says:

    I went to “rich” schools and “poor” schools, and the only social-class bullying I’ve seen is when girls pick on the “rich bitch”. It also goes that way with girls who develop early and get a lot of (real or imagined) attention from boys. Envy and knee-jerk reactions always seemed to me to be the common denominator in bullying. I was horrified when it occured to me as an adult that a group of girls my friends and I made fun of in school never actually DID anything mean that we ever saw…we just made fun of them because they were “Aberzombies” and those must be white, rich, popular and bitchy. We never verified the “bitchy” part.

    With tiny children, of course, I think it’s more or less about inexperience with what other kids expect.

    With tiny children, though, I think it’s more or less about poor impulse control. Kids don’t always like each other, it takes a while to learn to not say something that’s not exactly *mean* like “I don’t want to play with you” but would still hurt someone else’s feelings, when it’s honest. It’s hard to say with four-year-olds where they are actually bullying and where they are just not being “nice”. There is a difference.

    And with adults, bullying comes from an insecurity with one’s own choices. Pretty much all the time.

  14. jenny tries too hard says:

    bleh, typos…coffee time

  15. LolaLane says:

    I feel a bit late to the party but I wanted to add on a bit. My two boys – ages 4 and 5 haven’t been bullied nor do they bully other kids. They’ve had me at home for a few years and were in daycare/Montessori situations a few years recently. Presently, they’re at home with my Mom while we arrange for which kindergarten we’ll send them off to. While they socialize quite naturally with other kids, I’ve always been adamant about them being nice to one another and to other kids, sharing and all that. It seems to work and I believe those things should be taught young and at home. Anything counter to that should be nipped in the bud pretty quickly.
    While I never really experienced bullying – and boy, I could have being chubby, middle class and not gorgeous – I was a theater kid which usually threw me together with a lot of the popular crowd over the years. I made friends with everyone and wasn’t exclusive in who I was nice to. The Mr. was the same way throughout school. One of those kids who could sit at any table in the cafeteria without fear for the simple fact that we were nice, affable and generally unbiased in our allegiances. My Dad says he was the same way too. I think that’s the mode of operandi to shoot for. I know it takes some outgoing-ness to begin with on the kids part, but it is worth it. Starting the kids off with that mindset – be nice to everyone you’re in playgroup with and not a jerk, goes a long way once they get to middle and high school.
    Just my two cents.

  16. JEssica says:

    “I am not meaning to pass judgement on the moms who have to work to survive or to start an argument.” is the same as ‘no offense’ whatever follows it is an insult and thus bullying. Think about if I said, ‘No offense, but you are really fat.’ You would know that was an insult, even if I said ‘no offense’. I didn’t ignore it, I just thought it was irrevalent to the insult you dealt out.

    “I am blaming a *system* that has become accepted which ignores the developmental needs of infants and young children, or perhaps blame the economic policies in place or our culture’s value to material gain that creates an environment where both parents need to work to survive rather than blaming the parents. I’m trying to give folks the benefit of the doubt.” You may think you are not being judgemental, but already you are qualifying what you deam morally acceptable, like there is something wrong with gaining material wealth. And how do you know it is better for a child to be raised alone at home with his mother than with a professional surrounded by unrelated kids to interact with. I submit, you cannot make that statement without evidence and say it is not a value judgement.

  17. JEssica says:

    “I was horrified when it occured to me as an adult that a group of girls my friends and I made fun of in school never actually DID anything mean that we ever saw…we just made fun of them because they were “Aberzombies” and those must be white, rich, popular and bitchy. We never verified the “bitchy” part.” I think the very fact they never included you before the fact is the “bitchy” verification part. Being treated like you don’t exist, is worse than being actively mistreated. Trust your young teen instincts, they were probably right on.

  18. Laure68 says:

    GP – about that study you are mentioning. My friend is a child psychologist, and she had access to this study and read it thoroughly. She told me that there were some parts of the study that showed kids were better off in day care and some parts that showed the opposite (depending on the particular behavior). Apparently the media chose to cover the part about how day care is “bad”. Also, she told me that the section that was covered by the media showed the about 20% of the stay-at-home kids with the bad behavior vs. 22% of the day care kids. Yes, there is a difference, but not as big as some people think.

    Just a reminder to watch how these studies are reported.

  19. jenny tries too hard says:

    @Jessica, just to clarify, I would’ve considered actively excluding someone, pointedly ignoring someone, a mean thing. Now that I look back on it, I don’t actually remember any actual examples of that.

  20. GP says:

    JEssica…I ask, what is so wrong with making a value judgement. I am not threatening anyone. I am not calling them bad people. I am not saying I don’t want to be their friends or they suck or anything. (Not that adults on the internet should care). I find it really really lame and boring when people think that when anyone expresses an opinion that is a value judgement offense is taken. I was not harsh or mean in the expression of my opinion. I am not freaking out or getting nervous or offended that people say sometimes kids are better off in daycare when my kid is not. I am happy with my choice so I don’t care. Why must we pretend that we don’t think our choices are the best choice when we do? We don’t have to be mean or rude about it, but of course I think my choices are the best. That’s why I made them.

  21. jenny tries too hard says:

    As compared to the rest of us, who made choices because we are hateful or in denial…

  22. GP says:

    No, that’s a little defensive, don’t you think? I’m sure many people make the best choices they can make for their circumstances. Why do you think there’s so much drama about healthcare in the US, for example? Both dems and republicans think they’re right and that their choice would be the best for America, right? Each thinks they’re right and the other wrong. Why can’t I think I’m right? It doesn’t mean I think people who choose differently are “bad”…I had lunch with a friend today who was espousing her CIO sleep training methods in the wake of her PPD, etc. and I didn’t condemn her because she’s already my friend and we were sitting there together, etc. and it wasn’t my place. She didn’t ask me for advice, she was just talking. In the forum of the web, though, where people are discussing ideologies and its less personal, I think that if one is not abusive or resorting to name calling, swearing, threats, etc. it is well within the realm of acceptability to express ones opinion, and the belief in the superiority of that opinion, in no uncertain terms.

  23. jenny tries too hard says:

    GP, you told me I was in denial, because of a choice I made. You called other commenters hateful, because of their choice. That’s not me being defensive. That’s logic, reasoning that you must think we made a different choice than you did because we’re hateful and/or in denial—because, you said pretty much that.
    Nobody minds that you think you’re right—when it comes to your family, you certainly ARE right. It’s when you claim that other people’s decisions are hurting their kids, with little to no real evidence, like the daycare-kids-are-bullies, or stick motives on other people that I get offended, and other people, too, I think.

  24. GP says:

    I said that things people were saying about their children sounded hateful…and to me, they did. And, for what it’s worth (nothing because you don’t need MY approval) I gave you a pass because you have twins and I’m not worthy. I think daycare not only hurts other kids, but hurts MY kid because she’s likely to be bullied by brats who were subjected to institutionalization before they were ready.

  25. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Once you simply accept that “GP” stands for Greatest Parent and that She is completely Not Judging You even though all the harm you are doing to your children (the aforementioned “brats”) will make a terrible world for Her snowflake to grow up in. No offense.

  26. jenny tries too hard says:

    Oh my gosh, thanks for giving me a “pass” GP.

    If you cannot comprehend how judgemental and condescending it is to say “well, your parenting decision sounds hateful, but she gets a pass because she has twins,” I honestly am confused. Adults, discussing the merits of wohm or sahm, cio or cosleep, shouldn’t be giving each other passes because we shouldn’t be judging each other. For example, if I said, “I think giving in to a child every time she cries in the night turns a child into an entitled brat, but I’ll give you a pass because you are single/working/not working/whatever” you would probably find that pretty rude of me. Even if you don’t please understand that I do, and apparently other people who have called you on this do, and it really ruins the boards for the people you share it with.

    Of course my self-worth doesn’t depend on whether you agree with my decisions. I don’t think yours depends on my approval, but I try to be respectful when I disagree.

    What about the perception that only children are spoiled and when they don’t get their way, aggressive? Lots of people have smaller families these days, maybe that’s worth looking into…just sayin’

  27. GP says:

    well, since folks on this board seem really big on using their own anecdotal experience as proof of things, I’d say…”well, MY ONLY CHILD who I CODDLED with responsiveness through the night and extended BFing and me staying at home is the FARTHEST THING from aggressive and she is as sweet as pie…uh oh…did I mention I’ve SPANKED her…? Let the flaming begin!

  28. jenny tries too hard says:

    Bleh…no one is flaming you, and given that your coddled/abused child who is also woefully deprived of siblings, isn’t in school yet, it’s hard to say whether she’ll be a bully or not—the article was speaking of the pre-k and up crowd. Though, I’m sure all the bullies’ mothers would call them sweet as pie, too. And super-special.

    And yes, GP, all the descriptives I used in the first sentence were sarcastic, meant to poke fun at some people’s obsession with labeling people by the circumstances of their first few years, not at you.

  29. esthermaker says:

    Hmm, I read this comments thread hoping for advice I could take away on this subject, since I’m a new mom of a girl, and a formerly bullied nerd. But this discussion is eerily similar to the kinds of squabbling I recall from 7th grade…interesting, considering the context. But disappointing; I was hoping for some good insights into how to deal with bullies or the bullied.

  30. Sierra Black says:

    esthermaker: that book I linked to in the article is a really great resource for preK and kindergarten teachers to reshape social dynamics in a classroom. I’ve found it super-helpful as a mom too.

  31. BlackOrchid says:

    Absolutely – “You Can’t Say You Can’t Play” is a GREAT book! I even gave copies to teachers who hadn’t heard of it!

    I wish I had advice but since I didn’t really note any of this behavior until right exactly now (with my eldest in 1st) it really hasn’t been an issue for us yet.

    I think it’s just a sticky wicket! Heirarchies happen, maybe it’s happening earlier, maybe we’re just noticing it more than our parents did (my guess is the latter). It’s good that we don’t just let it slide nowadays tho, I think.

  32. Amy says:

    Back to the topic at hand… To get my cred out, I was a total bottom of the totem pole kind of kid. In 2nd grade, I remember everyone in my class, but 2 kids (I was one) was invited to a pool party. And many more examples like that from my life.

    I read the Boston Globe article and I have problems with it. I completely disagree with kids doing stuff like this in pre-school and kindergarten being labelled as bullies or their behavior being labelled as bullies. These are little kids and they are still learning. My kids wonderful co-op preschool alway said about any child who was being a problem, “Jezebel is still learning how to be a good friend. Or how to keep her hands to herself. Or how to play nicely with others.”

    Kids of that age don’t know how what they do affects others. And they need to be guided. It ABSOLUTELY should not be ignored, but it should not be labelled, either. I have a 3rd grade boy and a KG girl. My boy has encountered some other boys who sometimes engage ing “bullying” type behavior. These boys are good kids with nice parents, they just need some extra guidance because of poor impulse control. They do not need to be labelled and excluded. So far, my daughter has not had any experience with this in KG. And if she was being mean, I think I would have heard because I am in school several times a week and I now a lot of the other parents in her class.

    I admit I may live in a bubble. My town has some of the best schools in the state and people move here just for the schools, so I think the parents tend to be very involved, which would help with this sort of thing. I also have not experienced Queen Bee behavior from other moms in the town.

    As kids get older and older, the response should get stricter. And what those Jr. High girls were doing is TOTALLY unacceptable. I can only imagine my reaction if I found out my kids were doing something like that. There would be severe consequences.

    PS. Working moms & SAHM moms rock. And daycare kids are great too!

  33. BlackOrchid says:

    I just wanted to apologize – I think my first post on this topic was too harsh. Definitely. I was probably over-reacting to GP’s disdain for “daycare kids.”

    I was really exaggerating! We haven’t had anything like the article described and my kids have been in school or preschool since they were 2. The little divas are usually friendly! I’m not kidding. I was just overdoing it because SERIOUSLY? I do not get the “daycare” hate. I just don’t.

    I might not have had my kids there but my close friends and family did and I love them and and I love their kids and I am not kidding – I have never, ever seen a trend where daycare causes anything anti-social. If anything the opposite. But that’s anecdotal of course.

    Can’t we all just get along?!?!?!?

  34. GP says:

    Just to clarify, I was not hatin’ on the daycare *kids*…if anything, I would feel sorry for them. Last post ever. Promise.

  35. JEssica says:

    GP, I am sorry now for signaling you out for your comment. I thought maybe, you just wrote quickly and didn’t really think about your comment and the judgemental quality of it. There is nothing wrong with making value judgements. I make them myself, but usually I keep the harsher value judgements out of dialogues. I guess the reason I pointed it out is because your orginal statement not only made a value judgement that would change your behavior but also everyone’s elses for your kids sake. I think the reason a couple of other people responded is because you don’t come off as empathetic in your responses. It seems to be more about you and your kid, not about the well being of other children.

  36. Christy says:

    I’ve been wondering about how to handle bullies myself. My daughter is as sweet as can be most of the time (she’s 3 1/2). I have noticed in playgroup that 2 of the girls will play together and tell her she can’t play with them. I try to step in and say “no, she can play too. we all play together.” But I notice it happening again and again. I was hoping to find some advice on how to handle these situations in the comments, but I guess I’ll have to check out the book you recommended instead. I’ve also told my daughter that if one of the kids is being mean and won’t stop, to walk away and do something else. I then observed her telling one of the boys “If you don’t stop being mean to me, I won’t play with you. I don’t want to play with you anymore.” Even though I had told her to handle the situation by not playing with him, hearing the words coming from her made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want her to come off as being mean, but if the other child is hitting/pushing (his mom does try to correct the problem and gives time outs, but it continues to happen) I didn’t want her to keep going back and then complaining about it. I also don’t want to punish my daughter by not taking her to playgroup even though these things continually happen.

  37. [...] More and more schools are hiring recess coaches, the New York Times reports. Not only do they get kids up and moving, but they cut down on schoolyard bullying. [...]

  38. [...] Mean Girls on the Playground [...]

  39. [...] Mean Girls on the Playground [...]

  40. [...] the mean girls are ruling the playground, some of their mamas seem to have a potty-mouth [...]

  41. Huh? says:

    GP – $%*!# you and your pity for daycare kids. Seriously.

  42. Huh? says:

    Ugh. If I could remove my last post I would. Knee jerk response to what is essentially a troll. Sorry.

  43. [...] make you a nice person. Top that off with a mob mentality that can be just as alluring as it was in middle school.   Once one opinionated loudmouth posts a negative comment, odds have it that it will be followed [...]

  44. Paula Scott says:

    CommentsI’m really glad to see this stuff finally coming to the light of day! girl “in groups” can, have and do scar other girls for life. It’s hard enough being a kid- without being selected as someone who is “out”, and therefore not to be counted at all. Bravo for this article- now let’s see how this awareness can change the future of countless little girls who are “out” of the in group’s favor.

  45. Kristina says:

    Hi. I have 3 kids. My older daughter (9) suffered of bullying 2 years ago. I only noticed the problem when her torso was aching right after breakfast…she was split in two in the corridor during 2 weeks…I went to the doc, and nothing, only stress…Stress? At 9? I started to question her, and finally, she had a meeting with the director and 2 other girls, at school. And then, the truth came in. One older, taller girl controlled 3 ‘friends’ of her clique by threat, physical and psychological. My daughter was afraid to be alone in the playground, she preferred to be with her clique. I told her: To be alone doesn’t mean to be lonely. Now it is better. My younger daughter is 4. She is just the opposite, she is a leader and she doesn’t mind to be alone. I try to teach her how to be gentle and kind. My son (7) is kind and gentle, he doesn’t mind to be alone instead of being with rude guys. He plays hockey durinf winter so he learns to play rough…on the ice only!

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