Are Girls Getting Meaner at a Younger Age?

brat, mean girl
Little Mean Girl?

The archetype of the mean little girl has been a staple on children’s television for years, from Little House on the Prairie‘s Nellie Oleson to Peanuts bully Lucy to wealthy brat Muffy Crosswire on Arthur. In keeping with that tradition, comedian Jack Black is developing a new animated series to air on Fox called Tiny Monsters, being billed as “South Park for 12-year-old girls.”

The New York Post recently explored the idea that little girls are getting meaner every day, and a reader poll confirms their theory.  88% of people think today’s kids are getting meaner.  According to the Post, “Theories abound as to what’s causing the cattiness, from early onset puberty to anonymous Internet cruelty to societal narcissism to the witty mean banter on Disney shows.  But one thing is for sure: It’s happening younger and more viciously — and many parents are left shellshocked by the schoolyard tales.”

Rachel Maude, author of the YA series Poseur, thinks moms are often to blame for the ugly behavior of their daughters.  “Mean girls beget mean girls,” she says, adding, “I once witnessed a mother in a Manhattan shoe store push her toddler up to a mirror, and sneer, ‘Look how ugly you are when you cry.’  If we want nicer children, we better start behaving ourselves.”

A fair point.  But what is it that is encouraging girls to use psychological attacks on one another at such an early age?  Lifestyle coach David Wygant believes “reality shows are encouraging kids to verbally outsmart each other while… teaching kids to play mind games.”  He says, “Psychological [attacks are] easier to disguise and more socially acceptable.  You’re white trash if you go for her ponytail.”

While I do think Wygant’s remark is hilarious, I can’t imagine a child being aware of such a distinction.  Thankfully, I haven’t seen much mean girl behavior among my daughter’s peers.  There was a girl in her class last year who had some behavioral problems, but that was due to developmental delays and socialization issues, not mean-spiritedness.  Things this year seem to be copasetic, but then again, my daughter is the oldest one in her class, so if anyone were in a position to be bossy, I suppose it’s her.  I haven’t heard any complaints so far!

What have you observed in your daughter’s classroom or school?  Are 4 and 5 year olds exhibiting “mean girl” behavior?  Are older girls meaner than before?

Photo via Flickr

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