This may not be news to many of you parents out there but girls can be cruel. I really thought that mean girl’ behavior, a term that came to popularity after the 2004 Lindsay Lohan vehicle of the same name, started in high school, as was illustrated in the film. But no, it starts earlier, way earlier. Mean girl’ behavior begins to rear it’s ugly albeit perfectly coiffed head when kids are in elementary school, even as early as kindergarten.
I came the realization of this mean girl’ in training behavior on a recent drive home after picking my 8-year-old daughter up from school.
“So do you still hang out with Samantha?” I asked.
“No, not really. She’s hanging out with the mean girls.’”
What? Mean girls’ in second frickin’ grade, really? I was not prepared for this. I had assumed that my dear darling daughter wouldn’t be introduced to that concept until junior high at the soonest.
I asked her if she could define what a mean girl’ is.
“You know, a girl who thinks she is better than everyone else and who tells everyone what to do. And they totally act like teenagers when they are so not.”
Yup. My girl knows a mean girl’ when she sees one.
My curiosity was piqued, is this mean girl’ pattern happening so young a thing? The answer is yes and it has been a thing for quite a while.
Back in 2010, Pamela Paul wrote a piece for The New York Times entitled “The Playground Gets Even Tougher,” in which she talks of her own shock and awe of seeing the mean girl-ness being embraced at such a young age. “The girls who are the victims tend to be raised by parents who encourage them to be more age appropriate,” stated a teacher that Ms. Paul spoke with. “The mean girls are 8 but want to be 14, and their parents play along. They all want to be top dog.”
Is this a mean girl’ thing to be blamed solely on the parents? I think not. It also comes from the media kids are exposed to. There are several TV shows out there, and I’m not going to name names, that have mean girl’ characters. They are often more glamorous and more popular in the fictional society they live in than the main protagonists of the show, and although they are sometimes presented as the bad guy’ there is an aspirational quality to them. They are often the characters with the power and that can be seductive, especially when these children are figuring out their place in the playground.
Do you see ‘mean girl’ behavior in the young girls you know?
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